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Meet Our Prodigies: Cara Yarzab

Prodigy Careers Blog

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  • Prodigy Culture
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Meet Cara Yarzab - Staff Product Manager. Cara re-joined Prodigy in March 2024, having previously worked at the company in a number of roles between 2019 and 2022. She is now responsible for leading product teams around developing amazing experiences, with a focus on our educator users.

Want to join Cara at Prodigy? Check out our open positions here!

Welcome back, Cara! What prompted your return?

I came back because I find the mission to be very compelling. To help people learn has been a theme throughout my career. This is a place where I can enable others to learn, and also do a lot of learning myself. I’m always looking for an opportunity to learn and grow, and Prodigy provides that kind of culture. That’s an experience you don’t get very often, and I’m very happy to be back. 

A lot of it is the people that we hire—very rarely in my career have I seen values and practices considered so well. People ‘walk the walk’ here and are kind enough to pull you aside when maybe you aren’t living those values and give you a chance to get better.

What work will you be doing at Prodigy?

I’m in product and I make sure we’re building the right things, at the right time, and for the right people. There are lots of people involved in that process, including our students, educators and parents. We need to make sure we’re building things which help them to get their jobs done. But with product management we also think about what we’re building and how it relates to our business goals too. It’s really important we balance the user value with our business value, and I work with really great people to accomplish that.

Tell us about your career background?

I started my career in textbooks. So I’ve always worked in education. When you publish a textbook a lot of work goes into it. You print it, put it in a warehouse, and then you don’t know what people do with it! So when the internet came along I was really excited by the promise of digital technology and its ability to help us understand how people interacted and used the products we built. People behave in ways you don’t expect! I realized that if I wanted to get closer to software development and its impact, I needed to go to a software company.

I went to D2L and started as a partnerships manager, but was thrown into a world of APIs and SDKs and was suddenly working closely with developers and very technical people to create great user experiences. Then I went to TVO and joined as director of product, and after a number of years there joined Prodigy in 2019. I was really interested in how Prodigy provided its experience to educators and students for free, while monetizing through optional parent memberships. I thought that was a really interesting business model.

And for a while you led a new business unit at Prodigy...

It really was a start-up within a start-up when I was asked to head-up an experiment which looked at offering online tutoring. This was pre-pandemic and we weren’t sure if kids could even use Zoom! But we had a hypothesis that this could work because we had parents and students in our ecosystem. We were curious to see if the parents already on our product would be interested in investing further in their child’s math education. We know that a great teacher is a really important part of the learning journey and wanted to provide more access to great math teachers through tutoring.

Leading the tutoring business unit was the best job ever. You don’t often get a chance to build a business unless you go out on your own. It was the hardest, best job ever, and I was lucky to work with great leadership and build an incredible team. Ultimately, we hit some headwinds and wound-down that part of the business to focus on our core product and game-based learning, but I was pragmatic and learned a lot from the experience which has helped me grow personally and professionally.

What have you enjoyed most during your return?

We want to do great things for our users and expect great things of ourselves. I’ve worked with some of the smartest, kindest, and most humble people who are all aligned around a compelling vision for the future of education. It creates a happiness at work and a fulfillment that I’ve rarely experienced in my career. I wear my Prodigy swag with pride and kids and parents stop me in the playground. 

Even though my job is demanding, I still feel like I can give 110%—but when I need a moment for a break I can step away. I have kids and aging parents so it’s important to have a degree of flexibility and people are understanding of that.

What excites you most about the future here?

We have a new three-year strategy which focuses even more on the importance of educators and our use as a review tool or assignment tool in the classroom. I’m also excited about the opportunity to expand into other subject areas, so we can help even more students love learning.

What advice would give someone considering joining Prodigy?

It’s simple—you’ll have the opportunity to learn and grow and challenge yourself in ways that will benefit you and others. You should absolutely join us!

Interested in joining Cara at Prodigy? Check out our open positions!