For this installment of our People of Atypon series, we sat down with Dina Abulfailat, Product Manager for Literatum’s Digital Objects feature.
Fast Facts: Dina joined Atypon 5 years ago and works out of our Amman, Jordan, office. She enjoys basketball, coffee, and chocolate-nut ice cream; her favorite book is Elif Shalak’s The Forty Rules of Love.
When Dina was little, she wanted to go into the medical field, like her dad, and be a pediatrician. But as she got older, she concluded that technology and software development “were going to rule the world”—so she graduated from university with a degree in computer graphics and animation and never looked back. And when the job market didn’t offer animation opportunities, she realized that she was also well prepared to work in UI/UX and software development, thanks to thoughtful mentoring from her university advisors.
In 2017, Dina started her career at Atypon as a UI/UX Quality Assurance Engineer, testing and evaluating first the design and user experience of the websites we build for our customers, and later Literatum’s unique Digital Objects technology more specifically. With encouragement from Atypon’s Nick Taylor, then product manager for Digital Objects, Dina pursued training and certification to become a Scrum Master—and for some time played both Scrum Master and QA Engineer roles in the Digital Objects Squad. As a result, she learned the ins and outs of the product and all the processes associated with it, in depth and from every angle.
What do we mean by Digital Objects? Also known as publisher-defined content types, Digital Objects is the technology that lets you manage any type of content as easily as journal articles. From blogs, editorials, and exams to databases and videos—all are first-class content objects for tagging, targeting, discounting, promoting, bundling, and selling.
Dina never stops wanting to learn new things, so at the same time she was reading widely about digital content management and technology trends, as well as taking courses in digital product management, design thinking, product innovation, and agile methodology. Her efforts paid off—for her, for Atypon, and for our customers—when she took on the role of Product Manager, Digital Objects, last October.
As a product manager, Dina works with Atypon’s internal teams to manage the software development workflow. She also works with customers to understand their needs and pain points, evaluate and clarify requests, and translate them into user stories that we deliver on. “Working with clients is always fascinating,” she says, “especially because Digital Objects is very dynamic, so it’s always interesting to see how different clients are using it and how we can further adapt it to their needs.”
Dina credits her late parents’ passion for education for pushing her to pursue a great career and continuous learning. She learned from her dad—who got his medical degree in Barcelona while living with severe asthma—to be goal-oriented, and from her mom to seek out more knowledge about anything that interests her, to aim high, and to keep pursuing her goals. She’s quick to shout out the colleagues and professional mentors who have helped and encouraged her, including Nick Taylor; Firas Haddad, then product owner of Digital Objects; and Patrick Hargitt, Literatum’s Product Manager, who she says is “always there to guide and support me in my new role.”
We asked Dina what one piece of advice she’s found most valuable. “A very good friend once told me that if a decision was hard and scary to make, then it’s the right decision,” she says. “The longer you stay in your comfort zone, the harder it is to leave it.” That advice, together with the enthusiasm she learned from her parents, has helped her to move forward and never get stuck—not only at work, but also in life. For example, here’s the story of how Dina acquired her beloved cat, Ash:
I used to be scared of animals, especially cats and dogs—I would even change my route if a cat or dog was walking down the street, and wouldn’t leave my house if there was a cat near my front door. But two years ago my family got a cat without consulting me, and although I wasn’t pleased, I didn’t say anything: my nephew was so excited, and deep down I wanted to get over my fear.
Pretty soon I started to love her and care for her, and now I’m officially her parent! Ash is the gray version of Garfield the cat: all she does is sleep and eat. She’s very domesticated—she’s frightened of the outside world. And it only takes one look into her big charming eyes to fall in love.
Dina also loves to travel (her favorite destination is Cuba), which is why, if she could have just one superpower, she would want to be able to fly. “Imagine traveling without having to worry about visas, ticket fees, or long lines at the airport. All you have to do is fly and enjoy the voyage—that would be awesome!”
Right now, Dina is focused on her Product Manager role, which also includes sitting in on meetings of our brand-new Digital Objects Community Interest Group (CIG) as a resource for clients. “I’m excited for this new opportunity,” she says. “I’m excited to see what new challenges and experiences this opportunity the CIG will present, and I am very thrilled about what we have planned for the product!”