Lisa Lang has a rich history as a digital information technology and new media game changer. She has recently joined the Sourcefabric team as our new Head of Products. I was able to grab some time with her to ask her about her plans in this new role and a little bit about how she found herself working with open source technology.
You are starting a new position at Sourcefabric called Head of Products. What does that mean to you and what do you hope to achieve at Sourcefabric?
I'm overlooking the strategies and roadmaps for all existing and future products. For instance, finding new products and/or features within our current setup, but also sourcing and creating new opportunities – including all necessary business and budget plans. Besides that I'm re-organizing and building a new team around our products while working closely with all the other teams to use all the force we've got to deliver kick-ass products. In short: Reorganize. Optimize. Scale.
Who will you be working with in the organisation most closely? What are there positions and how will you be working with them?
I'll (and want to) work closely with everybody, but for the moment most closely I'll be working with Micz Flor (Director of Business), Fabienne Riener (COO), Daniel James (Documentation), Josh McLain (Support) and Adam Thomas (Head of Communications). However, depending on the different stages of our product roadmaps, it will be everyone's turn at same point.
What brought you to Sourcefabric?
I have had Sourcefabric on my radar since my work for Campus Party. Back then, Douglas Arellanes (Director of Innovation) approached me and I remember looking at the website and thinking "wow, they're doing really great stuff" and bookmarked it to keep on my radar. Late last year I was introduced to Eva Dangendorf (Project Manager) at the Berlin Geekettes which I support as an Evangelist. I looked again on the website and remembered how impressed I was by Sourcefabric's work. Just out of curiosity I clicked on 'jobs' and saw they were looking for somebody like me. It was just perfect timing as I was ready for another great and big project.
Can you explain your past work experiences? How do you feel they helped prepare you to take on Head of Products at Sourcefabric?
Many years ago, I started out as a journalist for a local newspaper. From there I moved on to photography and ended up studying communication design at the Merz Akademie in Stuttgart, Germany. During my time there I switched over to 'new media' and learned to code. Through this course I had the opportunity to score a scholarship and went to Melbourne, Australia for an internship semester. I finished my course there and started to work in an web design agency. Earlier I also worked for a public radio station which broadcasted nation-wide, produced radio shows and co-hosted live programs. It was so much fun, I also joined the local radio station where I developed a music radio show, just based on music with the creative commons license.
Then I discovered SitePoint, a technology publishing company, and I joined them as program director for the editorial team. We published around ten books a year, most of them are still available with a minimum of four star ratings on Amazon. It was a crazy time – the team was located everywhere in the world, in several different time zones; we pushed out so much high quality content with very little resources, developed new content strategies for online and print, scaled fast and partied hard. I think I've lost a good chunk of my 'Germaness' during my time in Australia. Positive attitude, hands-on, the ability to look at things from different perspectives – and the idea that you don't follow rules for the sake of them; you follow them in the spirit.
With that at my back, I returned to Germany. The initial six months internship turned into five years. But it was time to come back to Europe. Smashing Magazine invited me to work on their publishing and product strategy for the Smashing Magazine Book 3, which is now the most successful book of all for them. And finally, last year, I ran the content-side of the biggest technology event in Europe: Campus Party Europe in Berlin – we had almost 10,000 people coming through in four days, it was just huge.
It is a little funny, all these projects seemed to lead to Sourcefabric – having been in touch with web design, radio and publishing – it all comes together here and it feels like coming home.
You have been heavily involved in some tech communities. Can you outline these groups, both past and present, and how you came to be involved with them?
I love communities, meetups and the whole networking aspect around it! I'm going to a lot of events every week – Berlin is really great for that. Basically, it is just a matter of throwing yourself into it, check out who is there and talk with a lot of people. There are so many great people and amazing ideas out there, every time I discover something new. My main focus are the Berlin Geekettes at the moment, where I have the honor to be their Evangelista. I support the team where I can, helping out by raising sponsorships and organizing events. Besides that, I'm on the advisory board for Codemotion, a developer event coming up in May during the Berlin Web Week and the Social Media Week in September. My main tasks there are to connect people, bring the right ideas together and give strategic advice.
What are you most excited about tackling at Sourcefabric in your new position?
I'm most excited about the huge potential Sourcefabric contains. Not only is the team fantastic and dedicated but the products we have are amazing. Some of them are still in the very early days, but I can already see a great future ahead of them. I see myself like a little bit of a gardener – I have to separate the weed from the flowers, nurture the plants and make sure they get enough water and sun. The great part of my work is to help little inconspicuous plants to rise up to become big sunflowers.