Name: Melodie Vernet
Digital Discipline: Product Management
Location: United Technologies Digital Accelerator in Brooklyn, New York
Melodie Vernet is a product of variety. She was born in Iran, grew up in Paris, and attended high school in Texas and Iran. At Loyola University, she studied communications and advertising and minored in political science. By her early 30s, she'd held senior positions at no less than five globally renowned organizations ranging from digital agencies to industrial conglomerates.
“I think I've always struggled to answer the question of, 'what do you want to be when you grow up?' I'm one of those people that likes being a generalist. It's what makes me a good product manager — you just have to have a little bit of a lot of skills without getting too deep into any one in particular, because you can't specialize,” she said. “I really like complexity. I like things that have a lot of nested layers to get through and a lot of moving parts. I like to break things down into components, with processes and sub-processes and flows and dependencies. It's just kind of the way I think.”
That mindset has served her well across a broad range of experiences. Her first job out of college was at a travel agency in San Francisco, where she designed and managed products for foreign tourists visiting the U.S. From there, she moved on to a project management role for an investment company in Burbank specializing in the construction and rehabilitation of laundromats. As a customer advocate for Atlassian and then as a business analyst for Entrance Consulting, she got her first taste of B2B and industrial technology.
Eventually, she landed at GE Digital as a product manager, where she led the launch of Predix Cloud Services from concept to general availability. She considers that sprint one of the proudest achievements of her professional life. It also served as an ideal primer for the work she would undertake a couple of years later at UT Digital.
In the summer of 2017, Vernet was among the first dozen hires at UTC's newly inaugurated software arm. The division didn't even have its own office at the time, with the team based out of a New York City WeWork.
“It was really exciting. We were building from the ground up, all the way from getting more people through the door, to establishing our space, establishing our processes, establishing our tools, getting new work and getting to know the business,” she said. “If you're the kind of person who likes to build something meaningful and works well autonomously with high stakes and a lot of pressure, it's the perfect place for you.”
These days, UT Digital hails from a posh office space in Brooklyn's trendy Dumbo neighborhood, but that sense of closeness and camaraderie persists. Vernet said she's looking forward to an upcoming company trip to TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco, after which her team plans to spend a few days together exploring Napa Valley.
She's equally excited about the work projects on her horizon.
“There are very few places where you can work on big data solutions around physical assets, and not just, say, a toothbrush, but an entire aircraft,” she said. “I'm really excited about what we can do in air travel. Organizations like Uber Elevate are coming to the table with a version of the future in which we could all take an air taxi to work, or drones will deliver Amazon packages, or who even knows. I think we're in a unique position to get there within my lifetime, and I'm excited to be a part of it.”