Spotlight: Colin Murphy

COLINRole:  Product Leader for eTextbooks and our eReader application

Hire Date:  August 2012

Fun Fact:  While he was a college student Colin spent a Semester at Sea. He traveled by boat from Vancouver all the way to Florida.

“When you think about what Chegg is actually doing – helping students learn and study – it’s pretty easy to be excited about.”

What have you done in your first 9 months here?

A lot, actually, which has been great for me. Chegg is the largest company I’ve worked at and since I’ve worked at much smaller companies, I’m used to the dive in, swim, figure it out and get things done mentality. I was afraid that coming to a larger company would come with more structure and that I’d be a cog in the wheel, which isn’t the case here.

Day 1, I was diving into actual products. I’m working on the eReader application that students are using to read their eTextbooks on their Mac, PC, mobile device or iPad, and the day I started was in the middle of rush and our largest day ever for the eReader application. This product was dropped in my lap – which was amazing!

Since then I’ve been working on some cool things and have been taking advantage of our on site user Research Lab. We’ve had about a dozen students come in and use the eReader and got a lot of great feedback from those students. It was very important to students that the eReader experience is similar to the core experience of reading a book – like flipping the page or having high quality readability for example – so we’ve been focusing on the core foundation and making it a great experience for students.  Having real feedback from students is awesome and we’re working on other ways to get in depth and continuous feedback, which is really interesting to me.

Why did you choose to come to Chegg?

For a couple of reasons: I had worked a lot at B2B companies and the last place I worked at was all about enterprise software, which is interesting, but I started feeling less excited about it. When you think about what Chegg is actually doing –helping students learn and study – it’s pretty easy to be excited about. Chegg is in a unique situation where it has had a massively successful business with textbooks and has dominated that market but they realized the growing opportunity in the new developing areas, around digital services.

I was excited about working with students versus businesses so I look into opportunities here.

Did anything surprise you about working here?

The fact that it does feel more like a smaller start up has surprised me in a good way. And then the eReader team is like even a smaller start up, which is awesome because you get to push things out faster and get feedback quicker. Plus, the office is awesome! It’s good for bringing students into our Lecture Hall or Research Lab to do usability testing.

Have there been any crazy or fun things that have happened to you since joining?

I’m working with the eReader team in Israel and I’ve learned a lot about the culture in Israel, so that’s been fun. Another thing is when I updated my Facebook profile to state that I was now at Chegg, my cousin pinged me and said that she buys all her college textbooks at Chegg and just bought an eTextbook that day. So it was really cool that she was using the very thing I’m working on right then. It’s not surprising given Chegg’s reach, but it gets me more excited when I hear from people in my life using Chegg and loving it.

Anything else you want to add about what it’s like being a fairly new Chegg employee?

I had talked with a lot of people I knew about Chegg while I was going through the interview process, so I was able to get connected and received a lot of info before coming here, which gave me a good picture of the company before hand so I felt like I had a good idea of what it was all about here. Since coming here, it’s been even better than I thought. The team has been awesome and I feel like the ball is in my court, so to speak. Chegg is ready for me to take on as much as I’m able to, so as long as I can do it and want to take things on, there really aren’t going to be roadblocks. Plus the product organization is awesome! I may be biased but you have to work with almost every single other group here, which is only one of the reasons I love being here.

What excites you most for Chegg’s future?

I’m most excited about seeing what this whole space (education) looks like in 5-10 years. We talk about it all the time around the office – that there are so many better and awesome ways for students to learn and it’s about tempering that excitement and putting the foundation in place to get there.  The whole industry is moving towards learning outcome, so we do a lot of thinking about what the right content is and the right study aids are that will help students do better in class. Seeing where education technology goes and trying to be a big part of that is exciting to me.

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