Meet Ciara – a New York City native, she began working at Vistar early in her career. Ciara started off as the company’s third employee and first Platform Engineer. In this role, Ciara helped to develop a significant portion of Vistar’s core technology. Over the course of her tenure at Vistar, Ciara has established a true product team, growing from just 2 employees to 10, spanning 3 product lines. Ciara has also been instrumental in building our digital out-of-home marketplace, introducing the new concept of programmatic integrations to the outdoor advertising industry. Outside of Vistar, Ciara is a coach for the UC Berkeley Executive Education program for Product Management where she mentors early and mid-career product managers. Recently, we spoke with Ciara to learn more about her role and experiences at Vistar.
What's the most interesting part of your job?
Whenever I’m asked what I love most about my job, my answer is always the same: The people and the interesting challenges we get to solve on a daily basis. Product sits at the intersection of business and technology. We identify opportunities to create products that will bring value to our customers and drive innovation, while also considering technical constraints. This requires strong collaboration with our Engineering team and business stakeholders, as well as staying in tune with market trends. It is extremely rewarding to release a successful new product or feature. But to me, the process of getting to that final result is the most interesting part of the job: understanding a problem, gathering feedback from our customers, iterating on the solution, and then bringing the product to market.
The industry is constantly evolving, which makes the role of Product exciting and keeps us on our toes at all times!
What is the best team event you’ve had?
One of my favorite team events was a BYO pizza bus tour around NYC, where a tour guide took us to some of his favorite pizzerias and taught us the ins and outs of a few different pizza styles like New York, Neapolitan and Grandma. We have a lot of pizza enthusiasts on the team so we were bound to have a good time. I left the event very full and with a couple of new NYC pizzerias to revisit!
How have you seen digital out-of-home technology change over the past few years?
It has been incredible to be a part of an industry that has evolved so dramatically since I started at Vistar over 7 years ago. The concept of programmatically delivering ads to out-of-home screens was new back then, so the most notable change I have witnessed is the adoption and growth of programmatic technology on both the demand and supply side of the industry. Other areas that stand out are the evolution of data products catered to the unique aspects of out-of-home, and the advancements to supply integrations to facilitate real-time ad delivery and dynamic creative experiences.
Tell us a fun fact about yourself
My parents are from Ireland (if my name – Ciara Kennedy – didn’t give that away) and I spent every summer as a kid in Ireland with my family. My fun fact: I was an Irish dancer for 12 years growing up and I’m still known to break out a reel or jig on rare occasions!
What's your favorite thing to do when you’re not at work?
I’m a big foodie so I regularly explore new restaurants and test out adventurous recipes at home. We are lucky to live in a city where there is never a shortage of new food options to check out.
I also love podcasts and start every day with at least one. A personal favorite (in true product form) is “How I built this”. Recommendations are always appreciated!
What is one thing you wish you would have known prior to joining Vistar?
Before I joined Vistar, I had no background in advertising or advertising technology. Back then I probably would have said that I wish I started with a stronger foundation in those areas. However, in many ways, coming in without this knowledge, allowed me to approach the needs of the out-of-home industry with a unique perspective. It has motivated me to absorb as much information as I can from my colleagues and industry resources, but also to take the time to understand what is most important to both marketers and media owners in out-of-home so we can continue to evolve our products to meet those needs.
Interested in working for Vistar?