AfterShokz Team Spotlight: Kristen Szustakowski
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AfterShokz Team Spotlight: Kristen Szustakowski

We’re kicking off our monthly AfterShokz Team Spotlight! We love connecting with our ShokzSquad on a personal level, and wanted to give you all an opportunity to learn a bit more about what happens behind-the-scenes at AfterShokz HQ! First up, we sat down with Kristen Szustakowski to chat about her experience as our Customer Happiness Director.

AfterShokz: Give us a quick intro, Kristen! Tell us about yourself and what you do at AfterShokz. 

Kristen: As the Customer Happiness Director I make sure our #ShokzSquad is having a good time! This includes advocating for in-demand product features, ensuring our policies are friendly, enhancing the employee experience, and more. My role touches a lot of different facets of the business.

Aside from what I do for AfterShokz, I’m a wife, a mom, a runner, an amateur knitter, a literary enthusiast, and a podcast junkie. 

AfterShokz: What do you love most about working at AfterShokz? 

Kristen: The inspiration around every corner. The amount of passion that fuels each team member is unmatched at any other place I’ve worked and it collectively motivates us all to continuously do better personally and professionally. It makes AfterShokz a pretty magical place!

AfterShokz: So we know the AfterShokz team loves to have fun. What’s the craziest thing you’ve experienced during the workday? 

Kristen: This is a tough one, because there’s a lot of silly antics day-to-day! Recently our Content Manager, Courtney, visited Arizona and brought back a scorpion sucker for our Retail Marketing Specialist, Donnie. I was under the impression that nobody actually eats these things, but apparently Donnie does. So as he’s chomping down on this scorpion sucker, our Marketing Director Aryal, who had the misfortune of having her desk positioned directly behind his, starts giving a horrified (but very humorous) play-by-play over the team’s Slack channel. They had all of us following along, “reacting” to each message. It was a pretty amusing 20 minutes of our day.

AfterShokz: What’s one thing the ShokzSquad would be shocked to learn about you or about AfterShokz?

Kristen: I think how incredibly deeply everyone at this company truly cares - about our mission, our product, our customers, and one another. Just to give one example, a few months back our Customer Happiness Team Manager, Megan, was working with a customer on chat who just received her headphones. Being new to Bluetooth technology, this customer felt a little unsure, and just wanted someone at her side while she set it up and learned the different commands. Because our office was moments away from closing for the night, Megan brought her laptop home, made dinner, did the dishes, all while continuing her conversation over chat with this customer so she wouldn’t have to wait until tomorrow to use her headphones. These types of scenarios aren’t that uncommon. 

AfterShokz: A little birdy told us you’re training for your first marathon. Tell us more about that! How has training been going? How are you feeling about race day?

Kristen: YES! Turns out, when your coworkers run marathons and your customers run marathons, it makes you want to run marathons too!

Training has been fun, but definitely different compared to my half marathon training last fall when my routine was, well, routine! All my runs were on the same route, at the same time of day, all season long. This training cycle I’m in the process of relocating with the AfterShokz HQ from Syracuse, NY to Austin, TX so scheduling runs in between travel and house showings, in addition to all the usual scheduling obstacles that come with family life, has been a challenge! It requires a lot of time management, some creative solutions, and endless support from my husband to make it work.

Training for my first marathon while simultaneously planning a move across the country may seem a little crazy (and I am) but it was intentional. Running keeps me confident and level-headed; signing up for a race was a way for me to ensure I would bring the best version of myself into this transition, personally and professionally. There have been some unexpected benefits too! I’m realizing my legs do work after 8 am (was always an early morning runner) and that I am able to run outside shady residential loops of my neighborhood (I’m a creature of running path comfort!) I think I’ve always been a little superstitious when it comes to running in general, and this season has taught me that just because I’ve always done something a certain way doesn’t mean it always has to be done that way, or that it’s the best way to do it. 

I think race day will be tough but 100% worth all the work. I’m looking forward to having my boss and friend, CMO Kim Fassetta, by my side, and seeing my husband and daughter at the finish line! 

AfterShokz: What three words best describe your work style? How about your style for approaching life?

Kristen: My workstyle is coffee-fueled, communicative, and planned. My life-style is optimistic, curious, and kind.

AfterShokz: Not all work scenarios are sunshine and rainbows all the time. What’s a challenge you face working at AfterShokz?

Kristen: Filling your mug to the brim, only to realize it’s the peanut butter coffee. Nah, in all seriousness, communication can be a little tricky around here. I mentioned our team members are driven. Not just driven, but always driving — planning new strategies, finding new partners, implementing new technologies, hiring new faces… we get it done. We get so much done in fact, that sometimes we forget to share with the rest of the team what we’re working on and what we’ve accomplished! At the new Austin HQ, we’ll have an open-office layout, so I’m excited for the natural collaboration and transparency that will come with that!

AfterShokz: After the marathon, what’s next? What are your plans to close off 2019 with a bang?

Kristen: I am dying to try a triathlon! I actually swam in high school and still consider that to be my best sport. Since AfterShokz just released the Xtrainerz, our waterproof MP3 headphone, it seems like the perfect time!

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