Reflections on my first 6 months at Stenograph

In March of 2020, I joined Stenograph as a Senior Software Product Manager. What a strange time to start a job—as the country and world were getting set to deal with a pandemic, and my first day at work (and many to follow) would be from my home office. As I met my new colleagues at Stenograph and began to meet the community of court reporters, scopists, editors, and proofreaders, it was a challenge to be limited to doing so virtually. I had worked at international companies before, with team members that I met only virtually, but this had such a different feel to it—I had only met four of my Stenograph colleagues in person, and that was during the interviews!

Great people who care A LOT about what they do

I’ve been so impressed with my colleagues here at Stenograph and our customers, because they share a common value that I’ve always held dear—I have to “dig what I do,” and I have to feel like I’ve done the best I can do. I’ve met court reporters who approach their craft as an artisan, like a craftsman finds their own shortcuts and processes to produce a flawless piece of furniture or piece of art, I sensed that same pride in sharing of macros and briefs. At the same time, those at Stenograph who support the industry also have that sense of pride in finding ways to make our writers, software, and services better all the time.

A time of change that has been inspiring

Not only is the work-from-home challenge presenting a time of change, it’s presented this industry with times when work assignments were scarce, and then waves of more work as remote reporting became “a thing.” My colleague, Cindi Lynch, and others helped provide advice for setup to support the industry with remote reporting. It was inspiring to see the sharing of best practices through social media, as everyone figured it out together. The industry has stepped up to the challenges and found the positives amongst the challenge—even that participants in a proceeding are less likely to talk over one another in this format!

For me, this has been especially poignant, since I was hired to help Stenograph through a bit of change—managing our core products, and primarily CATalyst—as we extend capabilities in workflow beyond what it has done before. While CATalyst has been the industry’s choice for preparing for a job, translating the steno, and perfecting the transcript, we are pushing it to do more. Soon, CATalyst will be an environment where you can manage communications with agencies, schedule jobs, submit your finished work, and manage invoicing/payments all from one place.

But what does a Product Manager do?

As I’ve met with many of you, I’ve been asked about my role here at Stenograph. I’ve been a Product Manager for a long time, and I’ve heard it described so many different ways. I usually summarize it by saying that I do whatever my product needs. And, the majority of the time, that means listening—to our customers, to those who are not customers (yet), and to the market. I’m curious, and I want to learn what you do when you use our products, but I also want to learn what you do with the rest of your day. Maybe there’s a way that our product can fit in better, or solve a time-consuming task. That’s the quintessential goal of someone in my role.

I look forward to the day when I can meet more of the Stenograph customers in person, but in the meantime, I hope to “see” many of you at the STARCON later this week, or meet you by phone and email until the world resumes a more in-person way to connect.

Lucy can be reached at lsmith@stenograph.com

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