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Office Hours: I’m Tamara Hinckley, Director of Product at Pinterest and author of Half Moon Hustle. AMA!Featured

Hi Elphas!

I’m Tamara Hinckley, Director of Product for Enterprise Tools at Pinterest. Since joining 8 years ago, I started on the Biz Ops team and eventually moved into product, leading teams that help advertisers succeed on Pinterest.

Before Pinterest, I earned an MBA at Harvard, co-founded a consumer products company, and worked on Wall Street in investment banking and private equity.

I’m also a mom to two girls. My motherhood journey has been a rollercoaster, from infertility and an autoimmune disease to returning to work early with imposter syndrome and plenty of mom guilt along the way. In my newsletter, Half Moon Hustle, I share actionable insights about wellness, mental health, motherhood, and anything else that's stressing out ambitious women.

Originally from Ukraine, I’m a lifelong student of mindfulness and yoga with a love for the sun.

Ask me anything about balancing motherhood and a career, taking maternity leave, getting promoted 2x after baby, managing an autoimmune disease, mental health / postpartum depression, division of labor at home, or anything else!

Thanks so much for joining us @tamarahinckley!Elphas – please ask @tamarahinckley your questions before Friday, June 14th. @tamarahinckley may not have time to answer every questions, so emoji upvote your favorites 🔥👍🏾➕
Hi Tamara! Thanks for taking the time to answer questions :) Did you find there was a shift in work-life balance associated with the function you were in? (Biz ops vs product?) I'm sure any shift would mostly have to do with the role and its responsibilities, but was just curious if functional area was a factor at all
The nature of stress is different in each function, but I think the shift had more to do with level of seniority and the manager I worked for. At one point in Biz Ops I reported to the VP of Finance, and my job deliverables were based on timelines set by the company. So my schedule was dictated by the annual planning process or the upcoming board meeting. But my manager and I had a great relationship so I felt like I had a decent amount of flexibility and autonomy to get things done. It rarely felt stressful on a daily basis, though there were certain stressful days with important meetings. Since moving into product I've had more consistent stressful periods, and I've also had 7+ managers. The nature of the role is much more cross-functional, so it's busier in the sense that more people are coming to me with questions. And as I've gotten more senior, the questions are higher stakes. And my managers have really shaped my experience. Having micromanagers has sometimes been surprisingly helpful and reporting to very senior people has surprisingly felt unsupportive. You can't control who your manager is, so I try to form strong relationships with them and negotiate for what I need to do my best work (that might be flexibility with my schedule, coaching in certain areas, etc).
Hi Tamara,Your journey is incredibly inspiring! 1. If you could go back to the moment you joined Pinterest and give yourself three pieces of advice for balancing motherhood, career, and mental health, what would they be?2. And, just for fun, if you could have one superpower to help you juggle it all, what would it be and why?Thanks a ton!
@margogantner23 Thank you for the question! 3 pieces of advice, all centered around the theme of learning patience:1) Every 12-18 months, ask yourself what skills you want to learn. Ask your manager for the opportunity to develop those skills - you might be surprised at the projects or resources that exist that you're not aware of. Example - becoming a manager is an outcome that I was really focused on, but learnings the skills of coaching, hiring, and delegation were tangible things I could develop before I made the leap to manager (and those skills made me more equipped to make that leap). 2) With motherhood, learn to let go of control and ask for help. You can't control when/if you get pregnant, you can't control how you'll feel after having a baby, you can't control what kind of kids you'll have. Embrace the chaos that is the first year of postpartum. When it feels hard, ask for help so you're not doing it alone. You also can't control exactly how motherhood will impact your career, but you can choose to work at a company that supports working parents so you have more support at work.3) Go on a silent meditation retreat! (I did this one year after I joined Pinterest) Yes, it's 10 days of PTO, and it might sound more appealing to go on a "real" vacation, but the investment in your mental health will be so worth it. Do the Vipassana retreat (it's donation based and accessible around the world).Superpower - I want the ability to space travel so I can go to my favorite place in the world (Hawaii) every day, see my parents and in-laws frequently (they don't live nearby) and travel with my family around the world without the hassle of getting on an airplane!
Hi Tamara! No question but you feel like a kindred spirit. We seem to have a lot in common. Love it! Keep up the amazing work!!!!
Hi @tamarahinckley! I had my first baby in September and have been back at work for almost 5 months now. My spouse and I both work full-time while our daughter is in full-time daycare. I've been utilizing the educational assistance program through my employer to receive new certifications to add to my resume for future roles. I feel like I'm in the early stages of my career and still not sure what I want to pursue. I've been in my current role for 3 years and ready for a new challenge. Did you make a pivot in your career when you eventually moved to Product at Pinterest or was this more of a lateral move? As a new full-time working mother, where/when did you find the time to work/move towards your career aspirations?
Hi @tamarahinckley! Thank you so much for offering to answer questions on this platform. Your journey is truly so inspiring. My question is how did you manage the pivot from investment banking/PE to product? I want to navigate a career in product management after my MBA but also have tangential interests such as corporate strategy and venture capital as well, and don’t know if I should commit to one path now or have the flexibility to pivot into these fields later in my career.
@allisonchoi Thank you! I went to business school to transition from finance into tech. I started on the Biz Ops team in a finance/strategy role because I already had the finance experience, so it felt like a natural move. Than I moved into product somewhat by accident, when a project I was leading from the strategy side needed someone to execute it (and that ended up being me). So my journey into product was about being in the right place at the right time.In terms of advice for committing to one path, I think its natural to move around a bit in the first ~decade of your career, especially right after an MBA. I would pick the path you're most excited about right now, because you'll be more successful if you're optimizing for your current role rather than treating it as a stepping stone to something next. For product specifically, beyond entry level roles, I don't see many people becoming PM's from VC or strategy backgrounds. But it is more common to move into venture or investing later on, after having a successful product career. And I know someone mid-career who recently moved from product to strategy. So I think starting in product gives you more optionality.
Hi @tamarahinckley! Thank you for sharing. I’m interested in hearing about your interview experience, how you screen potential candidates into your team, or any advice you can give? I’m currently interviewing for an AM II role with CPG accounts at Pinterest which is a jump from my level and switching into the Tech industry from Retail. This company seems like a dream and I would love to join as a Pinployee 📌
Hi @tamarahinckley Thank you for stopping by this week and sharing your platform with us. It was great and inspiring to see you be so honest. In the Half Moom Hustle, the new accounting system you put into place to help with the new family workload at home. It was easily communicated and very realistic in terms of being implemented. Thank you for sharing it. Are there any tips for presenting this idea to one's partner? I view Pinterest as a platform with less of challenges than other social media platforms in terms of what people may experience. :) What do you see in your day-to-day culture that supports that difference? What networking tips do you have to grow in one's journey in product management in the age of AI? Thank you again for stopping by. Have a great week! Lisa
Hi TamaraI have always had interest to cross over to product from operations. I recently saw the apprentice product manager position and applied, I would love to work for a company like Pinterest. Can you please let me know how I can improve my chances of getting an opportunity like that as someone that has no product experience? Thank you !!
Hello Tamara, thank you for sharing your journey and insights with us! Kudos to you for the amazing things you have accomplished and the hurdles you have overcome, it's really inspiring!I would love to know your favorite wellness tools/resources, if you're open to sharing. Definitely a victim of imposter syndrome as well, especially when I'm the only woman in the room.Also, how do you handle stressful situations? How did you build up your in-person networking skills?
@allisonk Excited to share my favorite wellness tools:1) Morning pages (from the book "The Artist's Way") - A daily journaling practice that I do in the morning and has helped me become more creative. Recommend if you're feeling stuck, uninspired, or in a rut. The book has helpful prompts to guide you in nurturing your inner artist. 2) Movement - I love the Peloton app's Flash 15 workouts! They offer 15 minute virtual classes (strength, cardio, yoga) which I can fit into my busy mornings and the instructors are SO motivational. I always feel energized after a class (and no, you do not need the Peloton bike to do this, the app is completely separate).3) Meditation - I don't do this as much as I'd like but when I have time, I love the Calm app and their "Daily Calm" meditations. Quick, bite-sized sessions to help me get grounded. 4) Yoga nidra via the Insight Timer app - Yoga nidra is like a power nap, sometimes I do a 15-20 minute session in the afternoon to get my energy up (especially helpful after a rough night with the baby). 5) Gratitude journal - Last thing I do before going to sleep (by 10pm) is write 5 things I'm grateful for. Pick any journal, you don't need anything fancy. This helps me cultivate a mindset of gratitude.Re: stressful situations, I prepare with a guided meditation or go for a walk outside to clear my head. I get less stressed about meeting with senior people and more stressed with making small talk with peers. One thing I'm trying is to force myself to make small talk in low-stakes situations (chat with my Uber/Lyft driver, the concierge at the hotel, the random person in the elevator). Every time I do this it helps me build the muscle of talking to strangers, so then when I need to "network" the setting has changed but I'm already equipped with the skill.
Hello Tamara, thank you very much for your thorough answer and sharing the tools that work for you! I've heard a lot of recommendations for "the artist's way" so I just ordered a copy. I will try out those apps too!Small talk is pretty draining, I feel you. I like your talking-to-strangers "training" to work that networking muscle. :)
Hey Tamara! Just dropping a comment to say hello to a fellow Mom In Tech (and Product). Looking forward to the good feedback and networking on this AMA!
Hey Tamara,What an inspiring story! Thank you for taking the time. What is one piece of advice you'd give your pre-motherhood self?My partner and I see babies coming in the next two years and as a person that loves my work as a PM, I anticipate the new chapter bringing a lot of change.
@cassandrajaime I've been noodling on this question all week! My biggest advice is to create a system with your partner for managing your household chores (check out the book Fair Play if you haven't already read it). After baby came, the biggest change in our house was the arrival of baby-related chores that now needed to happen. Those responsibilities took a lot of time and focus away from work, which made me overwhelmed and nervous about how I'd keep growing in my product career. And since I took maternity leave while my partner didn't, many of the baby-related chores initially fell to me. We went through the exercise of mapping out the chores and re-dividing them to get to a more even split, and now things are more manageable. But I wish we had this system set up BEFORE kids, so that we could just build that on that foundation instead of having to create it from scratch.
Hi Tamara! No questions, just wanted to say hi to the fellow girl mom from Ukraine (I have an 11-year-old)! Love your journey!
@olenamytruk Privit! So nice to connect with you :)
Likewise!
Hi Tamara! Thank you for taking the time to be on Elpha and participate in an AMA! Your openness is incredibly valuable.Can you share specific strategies or routines that have helped you balance the demands of your career at Pinterest with the challenges of life in general, especially while managing an autoimmune disease?
Hi @beckyaldaz - after getting diagnosed with my autoimmune disease, I revamped my whole lifestyle to optimize for my health. My strategies for feeling my best:1) Sleep - in bed by 10pm, aim for 8 hours (not always possible with baby but I do my best). On days where baby was up all night, I take a nap mid-day (usually a yoga nidra via Insight Timer).2) Nutrition - I'm 100% gluten-free, mostly dairy-free, and try to limit processed foods. For caffeine I do matcha instead of coffee. And limit alcohol to once or twice a week at most (it's a treat, not a habit). 3) Toxins - I'm very conscious of what goes into my body and the environment in our home. I use the EWG Skin Deep database and the Yuka app to check for toxins in my toiletries, makeup, etc. We use glass containers for storing food instead of plastic, have a water filter, and use steel or food-grade silicone for anything that our kids use (cutlery, water bottles, etc).4) Stress - Exercise is the biggest way I manage my stress. I aim for a workout 3x per week (strength classes via the Peloton app) and a 15 minute walk outside on the days off. Stretch goal is one yoga class per week (30 minutes at home). Plus I turned off most notifications on my phone and *try* not to check email there (still working on this!).Hope these help - if you have an autoimmune disease and have more specific questions, I can share more resources (shoot me a message!).
Hi Tamara, wish all is well. My name is Yilin Lyu and I am 24 years old new grad from CMU, MS.Data Analytics/Data Science . For long term development, when is a good time to have kids so you can enjoy motherhood with a healthy body well achieve career success. I am currently working on my startup and aiming for consulting/ product management after a year. Thank you :)
Hello & Thank you for being here to share your insights! Your journey is incredibly inspiring. I have some questions regarding entering the product shift career field through the Pinterest apprenticeship program. What steps can I take to make my application stand out? Also, how can I increase my chances of securing a position at Pinterest? What key strategies does Pinterest employ to stay innovative and ahead of trends in the product development landscape?In your experience, what are some common challenges product teams face during the ideation and development phases, and how does Pinterest address these challenges? As the Director of Product, what qualities do you look for in candidates applying for product-related roles at Pinterest, and how do you foster a culture of growth and learning within your teams?
Hello @tamarahinckley! Thank you for taking this time to answer questions. I recently applied for the Product Researcher Apprenticeship at Pinterest and have done research in mindfulness and yoga myself (I too have a deep love for the sun)! My question for you is with being yoga and mindfulness forward while juggling with mental health, motherhood, and your position as a director, where do you find peace in your day to day or week to be the truest and most authenic Tamara and what practices do you find yourself using to become grounded again? ✨ Thank you so much again and have a splendiferous weekend ✨
@dymondr love this question! I recently did my first in-person yoga class in ages and realized I feel most at peace when I'm on the mat. Practicing yoga at a studio on a regular basis is hard to fit into my busy schedule, so I try to do more virtual classes at home. Doing a restorative class at night before bed is what grounds me after a stressful day. I feel most authentic when I'm writing to myself. I used to be so nervous to write about fertility, pregnancy, and motherhood publicly, worrying about what people would think or whether I had anything interesting to say. Now I try to tell myself that I am writing for me. It doesn't matter who reads it, if it goes viral, if people disagree. If the words are flowing out of me because I have a story I want to tell, then I will do it (and I may never publish). The book "Big Magic" helped me embrace this approach and I think it has helped me connect to my true self while also leading to "better" (more authentic) writing.
Hi @tamarahinckley!! I’m working on starting a tech /media company bringing better fertility, pregnancy and postpartum care to mothers. My background is marketing so I’m new to product development but joined a tech accelerator to help make it happen. I’d love to hear any advice you have around bootstrapping bs fundraising to launch a business and any key learnings from starting your consumer products company. Thank you!! Monica
@MonicaRGrippo LOVE this idea and am curious to hear more about what you're building! Caveat - the company I launched was part of a class in business school which provided some capital and lots of resources, so it was a very unique environment to start a business.In general, I'm pretty biased towards bootstrapping if possible so you can retain full control and ownership of your business. Raising money makes sense for certain business models that require capital to scale more rapidly. I would think about the following as you decide between bootstrapping vs fundraising:1) What do you need the capital for? If you have high margins, can you get creative about acquiring customers sustainably without additional cash needs? A bootstrapped business will force you to be disciplined around how you grow.2) How big of a business do you want to build? Bootstrapping a billion dollar business might be tricky but building a multi-million dollar business is definitely possible.3) Do you want investors? You will need to answer to a board and be responsible for other people's money. Raising money will also dilute your ownership stake. Hope this helps!
Thank you for joining us @tamarahinckley! My question is as someone who has landed their first career changing role, when is the best time to plan your next moves?
Hi Tamara, I am currently a software engineer with more experience in the frontend than in the backend and I am quickly accepting the truth that programming is not fulfilling for me. I enjoy brainstorming with fellow humans way more than solving problems with a machine. I am currently exploring the avenue for product management and I am wondering if that transition would help me get further from the engineering lifestyle. How would you (and anyone in the chat is welcome to share their experience) describe your day-to-day life in different phases of your roles within a product team ?
Hi Tamara, It was wonderful connecting with you this year at WIP and have been following your journey, which is truly inspiring. I’ve been working in the automative industry for the last eight years and experienced a lay off. I’ve taken time to recalibrate and looking to transition my career as a product manager in tech. I discovered the Apprentice Product Manager at Pinterest. I’m excited about the opportunity and applying. I would love any advice you can give to someone who is applying to the apprenticeship and what your experience is working at Pinterest in product. Thank you!
Thank you so much for giving us this chance to ask you questions! I'm currently figuring out my transition into product leadership from product design. My goal is to become director level within the next few years. That makes me curious about your journey into becoming a product director and if you have any advice for someone coming from a predominantly freelance background?What was your motivating factor in becoming a leader there, especially while having to juggle the stress of children and work at the same time?Are there any life-changing lessons you've learned from the people who guided you, that you would be willing to share? Pinterest is a company I've found myself very interested in and am very curious about. Do you have any insight you're willing to share about what you look for in your product team?
Hi Tamara, as a mom with a demanding job, are you able to separate work and family life? Did you have to put in more time at work to get your two promotions? I'm struggling with getting ahead at work and taking care of my family. Wondering how other moms are doing it.
Hi Tamara,Hearing your insights and story has been nothing short of inspiring!I have applied for the 2024 Pinterest apprenticeship as a Product Manager to continue my early career in Marketing after a year and a half at Google. How important is inclusivity to you and Pinterest as a whole?Thank you for your response in advance!
Hi Tamara,Thank you for sharing your story. Balancing personal and professional life takes incredible dedication and effort. When did you move to the USA?
@edytad I moved to the US in first grade, not speaking a word of English. My dad's job brought my family here. I think growing up as an immigrant has really shaped my work ethic and values!
Hi @tamarahinckley it's inspiring to hear your story of perseverance as a fellow immigrant. I have heard nothing but great things from people about working at Pinterest, and I recently applied for the Pinterest Product Management apprenticeship. I come from a special needs education and project management background, what were some of the things you wish you knew before switching over to Product Management coming from a Biz Ops background? Also, I would love to know any tips/advice on maintaining + prioritizing self-care as you build your career. TIA!