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Director of products: What I do and how much I make

Grant Thomas-Lepore, Director of Products and Support at GrabCAD, oversees product management and design for 3D printer software. His day involves meetings, brainstorming, and testing new features. He enjoys working with intelligent colleagues and creating products that help engineers. His salary, starting at $70,000 out of college, now stands at $120,000.

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Video transcript

My name is Grant Thomas-Lepore. I'm Director of Products and Support at GrabCAD. We were acquired a few years ago by Stratasys. I'm 31 years old, and I make $120,000 a year. So the company makes software, and we do it for 3D printers which is what Stratasys is, a company that makes 3D printers. And generally the software is targeted for mechanical engineers, for people who design and develop physical products. And they use 3D printers in the development and prototyping phases of that. As Director of Products and Support, I oversee what's called product management functions and design functions which are how you figure out what the products are actually going to do, so what the software product, what problems it's gonna solve for people, where the buttons are gonna be located, what the workflows are inside of the software. To walk you through an average day, in the morning I tend to have most of my meetings. That's because we have offices over in Europe. And so, the morning is the most overlap period. So we'll have a lot of office meetings with people in Europe covering different areas of what we're working on at that point in time. So, covering new projects, making sure that everybody's on the same page around the scope of the project and the timeline. And then in the afternoons, I tend to have meetings more locally with people in our office here. We might be doing brainstorming meetings about how a potential piece of software is going to look, a new feature of software, what the buttons are gonna be, what the colors are gonna be, what the different things are displayed on the screen at any given time. And then, we might just also be putting together roadmaps for where we're gonna go over the next couple of months. It's one of the really cool parts about this job is we have a maker space. And it's in a sort of a garage space outside of the office. And what's great is we have a bunch of 3D printers there and other tools to help you make stuff. A big part of the job is both testing and making sure the machines and the software are working correctly. But sort of a perk of the job at the same time is that we can use it for personal projects. So there's something you want to make, you can use the space to manufacture it. A recent project we had is Stratasys developing a new 3D printer. This one is particularly new design, industrial design to it. It has a camera. It has a bunch of sort of new and improved features versus some of their older 3D printers. And so, our part of that project is to make sure that the software supports it and supports the different workflows that you might have using the printer. And so, some of our responsibilities in doing that were to just test, making sure printing works, to test that the camera which was new for that printer, that you could actually view the camera in the software or in our mobile app, making sure we actually designed the interface on the printer itself. And so, there's a touchscreen with buttons on it. And that design, and making sure that that is easy to use was another part of the project that we worked on. So I make $120,000 year, roughly. And when I picked the field I wanted to go into, that wasn't really one of my primary considerations but it was something that I thought about. I knew that the salaries were relatively good in that kind of range after a few years at working in the field. And I think that my salary is fairly typical for my position. I didn't start at that salary at all. I started at 70 right out of college. And basically over my career, I've gotten raises at varying points. A big one is actually when you change jobs. It's usually a good opportunity to get a raise because you're coming into a new company and you can sort of, say, negotiate on a salary as you start a new job. I think my favorite thing about my job is working with really great, intelligent people. And we're building products that get used by millions of engineers out in the world and help them. It makes their lives easier. A really good 3D printer can save you a lot of time as you're iterating the right shape of a remote control. Right? If you can feel that in your hand, you can know that it's comfortable. And a 3D printer is a key to making a quick prototype of what a remote control is gonna be like. So that's probably my favorite part about my job.