It’s that time for our 3rd installment of the 8 spot where we interview Kristin Acker, who’s one of the first members of the Zillow team and currently leads a number of product development teams working on real estate and home improvement features, as well as Zillow mobile apps.
Kristin’s professional experience spans across several companies within roles of leading product strategy and design teams. Before Zillow, she led Program Management and User Interface Design teams at several companies including Microsoft, PictureIQ, Expedia, and Pure Networks. At Microsoft, she worked primarily on consumer products such as Money, Publisher, Works, and Picture It. Kristin attended Stanford where she was a varsity rower and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Political Science. She lives in Seattle with her husband and three teenage sons.
Now that you’ve got a brief overview of who Kristin is, let’s get into the interview and get to know her better.
What made you decide on a career in tech?
I backed into it. A college friend of mine was leaving her User Education job at Microsoft to teach English in China. She offered me her job. Not many people were skilled in User Ed at the time, so Microsoft was just hiring people who could learn fast. Thinking I’d stay 6 months and move on, I took the job as a way to move to Seattle. Instead, I fell in love with tech and stuck with it.
What or who inspires you?
I just love solving consumer problems. I love surfacing information that’s been hidden so everyone can use it. I love making complex things easy. I love encouraging more girls and young women to try tech careers.
What is your go-to app?
It depends on what for. Not just for work, I use both Zillow’s real estate app to track the neighborhood and the Zillow Digs app for home improvement ideas. I use iWindsurf app to look at wind forecasts (for rowing). Audible. Kindle. Evernote. Clear task list. OpenTable. Epicurious. All on top of the usual suspects. I like the new Outlook app for the iPhone more than the iPhone mail app.
Finish the sentence: “If I’m not working, I’m…”
doing something active (swimming, rowing, playing volleyball) with my husband and sons.
What was a challenge you faced in your career and how did you overcome it?
I was nine months pregnant when my group at Microsoft was merged with another and my peer was handed the combined job. I was promised a good role when I got back from maternity leave. It turned into blessing, as it was the spark that got me to look outside of Microsoft and join my first startup. I’ve never looked back.
What do you find interesting about what you do?
Working with bright people. Working on teams. Solving important problems for millions of consumers. The constant technological change under my feet.
What’s the best advice anyone has given you?
Be your own advocate. You can’t rely on others to help your career along. You need to know what you want and figure out how to grow the skills you need to progress towards it.
What’s your life motto?
I try to live by this verse in the Bible: “Love one another as I have loved you.”
Hope you enjoyed learning more about Kristin Acker and hearing her story. You can follow her on twitter here: @kacker
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