Megan Russell, Marketing & Asset Manager of AdvanceNet Labs, is a transplant from Upstate New York and a lady with a unique, nontraditional story who now works for an organization that helps nontraditional students. Only two short years ago, she was pirouetting across stages all over the world in a professional ballet company and now she is part of a team at a tech-for-good nonprofit that has created an app that serves as a communication platform for individuals in adult education programs. AdvanceNet Labs is based in Dallas, but has two employees in East Texas who come together and collaborate under the same roof at WorkHub.
Growing up Megan had dreams of becoming so many things. She kept coming back to the idea of being some sort of Veterinarian/Superhero combination. I mean why would one commit exclusively to saving animals when the whole world is typically in peril? Some little girls express their desire to grow into ballerinas, but that was Megan’s reality so it made sense that she had different dreams for her life beyond ballet. Megan paused her high school education at the age of 15 in order to study ballet full time at the Joffrey Ballet School on 6th Avenue in the Big Apple. She then spent the next seven years eating, sleeping, and breathing the art of dance.
Megan returned to school to obtain her GED after an injury halted her ballet career. She was randomly asked for feedback on an app she was utilizing within her program that was powered by AdvanceNet. Little did she know that taking some time out of her day to provide some consumer feedback would morph into a job opportunity.
WorkReady Mobile is the app that Megan focuses on primarily. Her job duties include social media marketing, outreach marketing, onboarding clients and making sure they have the training and support materials they need. She also plays a role in perfecting the user experience within the app.
“I’m in such a privileged position at my job. My opinion is always valued and heard and taken into consideration to continuously shape and improve our product.”
Beyond that, one of Megan’s favorite things about the company she works for is their agility. They truly listen to the feedback provided by both employees and consumers and can quickly and easily pivot and make changes within their mobile platform to make it more helpful and user-friendly.
“The product is important but the client management is even more important because if people are deviating from something that’s a well-known name and larger than life, you need to show your value in your product and your ability to listen to feedback and make changes quickly based on need.”
It’s also a great benefit that her nontraditional education path is known and revered by her employer instead of being something that she previously had to explain and validate. Being a pivotal part of a tool that aided in her own educational journey and feeling like she is giving back to a specific community of people that are typically underserved is incredibly fulfilling.
“Every other company assumed that I had already been to college, so having that transparency and having them regard me as highly as they do is extremely rewarding. I don’t have to hide behind random certifications that I’ve gotten for myself or feel like I have to justify my experience.”
A trait that Megan feels has served her well through the years is her avid curiosity. Whether it was applied to her personal or professional life, her curious nature has always allowed her to rise to the top of any given situation.
“I try to not think of things solely from my perspective but from as many angles as I possibly can. Talent is just pursued interest and curiosity. If you follow your curiosity as far as it can go, you will end up extremely talented and highly efficient.”
Being from New York, one of Megan’s favorite things about officing out of WorkHub is how it reminds her of the BoHo coffee shops she once frequented in the city. The modern furnishings and stylish decor make her feel right at home. The special touches that have been implemented by the friendly WorkHub staff are also deeply appreciated. Megan is a big fan of the giant wallspace that showcases WorkHub members and provides a space for the community to document and display their success stories.
“With everything feeling so off kilter in the world, it’s important to celebrate the good more than ever. I love how the wall gets us involved in celebrating not only our own personal wins, but the community’s wins and how much good we are still doing even though things seem strange and different.”
When Megan isn’t working, you may find her playing the violin, guitar, knitting, crocheting, sewing, reading, or doing projects in the new home she recently purchased in Longview with her fiance—Bradley. She is still quite the animal lover and keeps her dreams of becoming a veterinarian alive by caring for her dog, cats, and chickens. This Renaissance woman is also putting the finishing touches on her first novel that she is self publishing in the near future.
Megan is having her official wedding ceremony next summer on the steps of the Fort Worth Central Library decked out in a wedding dress that is crafted from pages of books from her favorite author, Neil Gaiman. She has informed the famous author of her tribute via Twitter and Bradley has reached out to request that he officiate their nuptials, but they are still awaiting his response with fingers crossed.
If you spot Megan at WorkHub, be sure to check in and see if she’s a published author, a married woman, or if she has acquired any new animals for her urban farm in Longview! She is always game to make new friends, and her extensive list of hobbies typically means she has something in common with just about everyone.