June 10, 2024

From power user to product evangelist: A Q&A with Assembled’s Product Community Manager

Whitney Rose

Assembled just hit a significant milestone: 100 employees. In honor of the company’s journey from three Stripe alums in 2018 to triple digits in headcount six years later, we’re spotlighting early hires and the unique paths they’ve created for themselves at Assembled. You can find all their stories here.

Sam Dehart is Assembled’s Product Community Manager — a dream job she advocated for and created herself. In this interview, Sam shares how she ended up getting hired to be the company’s first SDR (but never actually booked a meeting), what it took to define her ideal role, and why she’s so optimistic about Assembled’s future. Her answers have been edited for clarity and concision.

Q. Sam, when did you first get introduced to Assembled?

A. This is an interesting one! I got introduced to Assembled around March or April of 2020, but funnily enough, it was as a buyer back then. We were exploring tools for our workforce team at Imperfect Foods and did an RFP with several vendors. Assembled won us over, and that's how I first met the team.

Q. What were your first impressions of the product and the team?

A. Some helpful context: When I was a workforce manager, my team ballooned from 40 to 80 people, and I was pulling my freaking hair out trying to manage everything in a spreadsheet. When we brought on Assembled, I was finally able to stop spending all my time in the weeds and get a handle on the bigger picture.

I often compared it to being a firefighter with a blindfold on, just frantically trying to put out whatever fire was in front of me. With Assembled, the blindfold came off and I could finally see and manage the fires effectively.

As for the team, it was small and scrappy, and I had direct interactions with Ryan (Wang, co-founder and CEO), John (Wang, co-founder and CTO), and Jen (Ong Vaughan, first business hire and former COO). Seeing my feedback translate into product changes was super cool and made me feel even more excited about what Assembled was doing.

Q. How do you see the work you do now at Assembled relating to your experience as a customer?

A. Obviously, as we've grown, it's no longer a case that customer feedback leads to immediate changes. But the spirit of building for our users is still very much alive. I love taking customer feedback and having direct conversations with our product team. It's satisfying when feedback leads to changes. And, even when it doesn't, the discussions are always enriching.

Q. How did the conversation about you joining Assembled as an employee start?

A. I was the one to initiate. I saw that a position for an AE (account executive) had opened up on the team and, having been a door-to-door salesperson before Covid, I thought I could hack it. My first conversation was with BZ (Brian Sze), one of our co-founders, who was intrigued by the idea of a transition from workforce management to sales.

I felt like my ability to build relationships with people coupled with my knowledge of the product and space would make me a good fit. Understandably, there were concerns around my lack of experience directly related to the AE role. But they still wanted to bring me on, so they created a new role for me: SDR (sales development representative). They knew they’d need one eventually, so they decided to give me a shot.

Pretty quickly, I noticed that where we really needed help was with implementation. And since no one was actively working on implementation, I organically ended up taking it on. So, I was hired as our first SDR but never actually booked a meeting — I became our first implementation manager instead.

Q. What about Assembled's mission drew you in?

A. I’m kind of an oddball because this is my first tech job. I had no idea about equity or tech culture or any of the usual things that push people to work at a startup. For me it was simple: I loved the tool and how it made my job easier. As a workforce manager, I used to spend 40 hours a week doing these nitty gritty things just to keep the roof on the house. So Assembled was such a game-changer for me, and I was always excited to talk about the team and sing their praises. Then it occurred to me that I really wanted to be a part of what was happening. I believed in what they were doing and I wanted to do it with them.

Q. How many people were working at Assembled when you joined?

A. I was employee number 12 and one of the first customer-facing hires. It was a small, scrappy team where everyone wore multiple hats. If you worked at Assembled back then, you were either coding things or you were talking to people — and everyone was taking support tickets.

Q. What's the wildest change you've witnessed at Assembled?

A. We now have almost 100 employees, and it's strange not to know everyone personally like I used to. I show up to Assembly week, look around, and realize I do not recognize a lot of faces. In the early days, everyone was involved in every aspect of the business, but now we have distinct functions and more structure.

Q. What’s your proudest accomplishment at Assembled?

There are a lot of things I’m proud of, but the biggest one is that I’ve been able to forge my own path here — and feel supported along the way. I'm now the Product Community Manager, a role that didn't exist when I joined. I was actually telling people two years ago that being in this role at Assembled would be my dream job. But it didn’t just materialize. I had to be really strategic and vocal when making the case for why the role should exist and why it should be me. It wasn’t like other roles where we already had a framework, I had to prove that it was worth investing in through the different projects and programs that I’ve run.

Q. What's the biggest challenge you've faced at Assembled?

A. The biggest challenge has been adapting to the quickly growing structure of our company. In the early days, I could suggest something to the product team and it would be implemented right away. Now, I need to build business cases and navigate more complex decision-making processes. It's been a valuable learning experience in persuasion and data-driven arguments, but it was pretty cool back in the day to say, “Hey, can you build this?” and see it come to life a couple of weeks later.

Q. What's your advice to anyone who wants to join Assembled?

A. Two things: 1. Be proactive in identifying and addressing needs within the company. Don't be afraid to step out of your lane (without stepping on toes) to solve problems. And 2. Embrace our feedback-oriented culture; it can be jarring at first but we’re all better for it.

Q. What gets you most excited about Assembled's future?

A. When I first started, we had like 20 customers. Some of the companies that were our biggest customers back then aren’t even in our top 50 now. That order is constantly changing as we continue to work with bigger companies — brands that everyone knows. I love when I’m hanging out with friends or acquaintances and someone will mention a cool brand and I get to say, hey, they’re one of our customers. So, I guess I’m excited to watch us continue to grow and change the way people do workforce management.

Assembled is still growing! Check out our open roles.

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