What is your official title?
I am an Associate Product Manager at Stryker Medical. I work on the marketing team in new product development – it’s a blast and keeps me on my toes!
What’s an average day in the ‘Zoo look like for you?
I am up and out the door a little before 7:30am everyday to get to work. From there, it’s days filled with meetings with my internal project teams, it’s talking with caregivers to get their feedback on the products we develop, and everything in between. It’s fun, because my days have a lot of structure to them as far as the elements that make up my day go, but I have the ability to move those pieces around as I please. I love to travel, so days when I get to be out in the field talking to different hospital personnel about developing products that will make their lives better is one of my favorite things to do. After my work day is through, I like to go home and do something active, like go for a run or a bike ride. I am also very blessed with wonderful friends and family, so getting in some quality time with them is also a must!
What kind of projects are you currently working on?
Working on various projects is my life at Stryker, but they’re new products in development, so have to keep those a secret! Outside of work, “projects” for me would include things like being a member of the Greater Kalamazoo Girls on the Run Marketing Committee or other random volunteering events. I am also a member of the Board of the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo, so I get so spend time with a great group of people figuring out how to best support and activate our local art culture. And how could I forget Kzoo Uncaged, the coolest ongoing project in my life!
What do you love most about Kalamazoo?
It just feels like home. I know that sounds a little cheesy, but honestly, at this point in my life it really does. I grew up in the area (Portage – go Mustangs), and as a teenager, you’re kind of itching to get out and “find yourself” or “really experience life”, and I’m happy to say I had a chance to do that at Miami University and in Boston after I graduated. But it wasn’t until I decided that I wanted to move back here, at least temporarily, to figure out what was next in my career that I really felt at home. My family is near, I have a wonderful group of friends, I live in a community that cares about the place we live and each other’s well-being, and you can drive about 15 minutes in any direction and run into a body of water – I mean, come on, how cool is that?
What can be done to improve our beloved Kalamazoo?
I think we are well on our way to making improvements in Kalamazoo. One of the biggest things I wanted to see when I first moved back was affordable housing downtown, and I think we are definitely making strides in the right direction, and providing more housing options. I think we do a great job at rallying around each other for causes we believe in, but maybe what I’d like to see is a little more follow through with the wonderful ideas that are brought to the table by the people in this community. We are the ones who need to step up, and I think sometimes we tend to sit back because we assume others will do it for us, but I think we are taking steps in the right direction!
What has been one of your biggest learning moments?
Ha, my entire life is full of learning moments! Every experience provides new lessons, and I think just taking that approach has been helpful to me, especially when those learning moments stem from not so fun situations. I’ve learned to take the good with the bad, and that it’s OK to not always have the answer right away. I used to get hung up on doing everything perfectly, and the beautiful thing about that is that perfection is perceived, or at least now it is to me. I luckily have wonderful friends and family members who so graciously shared their concern with me that I was missing out on some really good stuff getting hung up on things that didn’t matter. One thing I’ve definitely learned is to be appreciative of those moments – the not so fun conversations you have with someone who genuinely cares about you and wants the best for you – they aren’t doing it to upset you, they’re doing it for all the right reasons.
What have you been jammin’ to recently? What’s on the iPod?
What haven’t I been jammin’ to is the real question! Music is such an awesome way to self-express, and if I could I would have theme music playing around me all the time like they do in the movies. I love country music, so pretty much any country artist, acoustic, folk, jazz, classic rock, you name it. I love me some Mumford and Sons and Matt Nathanson, and recently I’ve been listening to some classical instrumental pieces on Pandora, which add a nice calming back drop for me during the work day.
What is next up on your reading list?
I have a full on stack at home. I just finished reading Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg. It was excellent, and would recommend it to anyone, male or female. I’ve got Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson going right now. What an interesting man he is. I like to go back and forth between a “businessy” book and a “fluff” book so things don’t get too serious 🙂
How do you take your coffee?…or do you?
I started drinking my coffee black out of sheer laziness. When I first started drinking coffee my freshman year of college, I added all the fix-ins, until I didn’t want to go to the store for creamer and sugar. I learned to love and appreciate the taste of good coffee, just like my parents.
What is your favorite app to use?
I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was an avid Facebooker and Instagrammer, can’t deny it. I use Evernote and Voice Record for all of my Uncaged interviews, so those apps are getting a whole lotta use. I’m an avid Candy Crusher, enjoy Strava to record my road biking adventures, and Shazam all of my new favorite tunes to download.
Do you have a “go to” spot in Kalamazoo?
I love going to sit at Waterstreet Coffee Joint downtown to read, do some work, or just listen to some music and enjoy the atmosphere. I also am mildly obsessed with Food Dance, and maybe have done presentations about my love for it. If I have friends or family in from out of town, it’s always the place I tell them to go.
When you were younger, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Love this question. I was a big time dreamer as a kid, and what I wanted to be when I grew up changed pretty regularly. I first wanted to be a secretary, because I loved typing on my kiddie typewriter and answering and transferring calls to my brother sitting across the room from me. I then wanted to be a teacher, like my mom, a children’s book illustrator (very specific, I know), a professional figure skater, and then back to a teacher, which is what I originally wanted to do entering my freshman year of college. Since then, it’s changed a lot, and I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, but I’m OK with that – I’m just enjoying the ride.
What is the best reaction you’ve gotten to the name “Kalamazoo”?
So when I lived in Boston, one of my friends there told me that her mother used to tell her when she was little that if she was bad that she was going to get sent to Kalamazoo! She always thought it was a made up place until she met me…by far my favorite “Oh, so there really is a Kalamazoo” story!
Keep up with Carrie by following her on twitter at @c_heathbar.