This post is part of a series highlighting the talented team of UpTrending. We believe in hiring the best and brightest in all areas of expertise, and it shows in the wide range of personalities and skills we have on our team. But our team members are more than just talented professionals – and you deserve to know them a bit better.
This month, we get to talk with Ashley Mittiga, a member of our Project Management team. Ashley has been an UpTrender since early 2015, and before that, spent time working both in-house and in agency environments.
Give us the 15-second version of your job.
I manage people and I grow gray hair.
Part of my job is not being able to have control over certain variables. As a project manager, I try to put the pieces of the puzzle together in record time. I am constantly trying to think ahead and predict how things will go and avoid chaos and trouble – but sometimes it just happens, no matter how well you plan.
And when it does, it means delivering bad news to somebody, be that a client or team member. I’m getting better at that part, but it will always be a struggle with me – I don’t like delivering bad news. Who does?
Sounds exhausting. How did you find yourself in this role?
I fell face-first into it. After getting a marketing degree and a masters in business, I thought I would be a big city slicker and work in the fashion industry. Somehow, something didn’t go as planned and I ended up working in HR for a tree service.
Fast forward to present day, and I feel like I blinked and I am here in this position. Not entirely sure how I landed here, but I think I may have found something that I really love to do, and that has silenced my inner desire to be the next Rachel Zoe.
Sounds like serendipity to me.
The funny thing about being in the project management field is that I don’t actually think anyone goes out seeking one of these jobs. Every project manager I have ever met somehow just “fell” into the position. It’s not glamorous, but it takes a very specific skillset – a ton of patience, the ability to deal with things that are often out of your control, and the ability to be incredibly creative when approaching situations.
So what brought you to UpTrending?
I actually stalked UpTrending for a while before I even knew they had a position available. After reading about the team, seeing the work, and learning more about the industries they focus on, I decided to be that creepy person who blindly reaches out and says, “Hey, want to work together?”
Ignoring the premature aging, what’s the best part of your job?
Starting a fresh project is almost like getting to start a new job every time. So my job is always fresh and new and no day is ever the same. I love that my days fly by and I forget to eat lunch or look up at the clock.
What’s your unique approach to project management?
I think I approach every new project like a first date, except good or bad, we still have to go on a second one!
Every project has its own personality. Every team works differently together and every client wants things done differently. The key is being able to get acclimated to all of those variables and finding a process that works. I can usually switch gears quickly and change it up if a process isn’t working right for a particular project.
What is a way that your job delivers personal and professional satisfaction for you?
On my second day at UpTrending, I started a new project. I feel like I didn’t really know what I was doing, so thankfully the client was absolutely amazing and made the struggles, the long days, the crazy deadlines, the multiple daily meetings, and the weekend phone calls all worth it. At the end of two months, I remember being awake for 24 hours and turning the switch for both sites, which we launched on the same day. It felt like the countdown to the ball dropping on New Year’s Eve.
There are also just times that give you a good feeling. Those usually happen when a client comes back with praise about the team, or when something we did causes them to hit their target goals. I get excited when clients love designs or are generally just really happy with the results of something our team did. I reward myself with some wine every time that happens!
Sticking with satisfaction, as an UpTrender, you can live anywhere in the United States. But if you could live anywhere on the globe, where would you land?
I think it would be Ireland or Italy. Although, I have never been to either one, so whether or not those are the spots for me, I’m not sure.
I think a more accurate answer would be I would love to live anywhere out in the country, like on a vineyard or a farm. But I am also afraid of the dark, so I would spend the daylight hours there and then I would have to sleep in an apartment in a gated community with a security guard.
What’s a common misconception or myth about Project Managers?
The belief that we just sit around and tell people what to do all day – basically, that we are paper pushers. Luckily, nobody prints anymore, so I think that rumor is dispelled.
Also, I can see where it would be easy to assume that we just put our feet up all day. At times, I wish that was the case! In reality, what we do is really hard to put into something tangible. A lot of what we do is behind the scenes. We basically organize the daily chaos and make sure the client doesn’t see any of that.
Speaking of unseen things, what is something most people wouldn’t guess about you?
I can’t stand to watch anyone eat alone – it ruins my meal. I wanted to start a “call a friend for lunch” program where lonely people could dine with other lonely people, but then I realized it’s a little creepy. I guess that’s what dating services are for.
Give some advice to everyone out there who works with a Project Manager like yourself.
The only key to working with me is communicating with me in every aspect. Knowing all of the details throughout a project helps me better communicate with the client, stand up for my team members when I need to, and get to know what is going on with my team on every level.
Also, teach me things I don’t know that can help me. I always want to get better. I always want to be resourceful to my team, so I know that requires me to always be on my toes and to always be learning.
If you think working with Ashley (and the rest of our awesome team) sounds good, check out our job opportunities. We’d love to have you become our next Featured UpTrender!