Meet Georgia: An Eye for Detail and Head Full of Curiosity
Recently I sat down with Revelry’s QA Tester, Georgia Petagna. I asked her to tell me about herself, and she told me her life story with the openness and honesty of an old friend. I’ve only known Georgia for a couple of months, and what struck me first about her was a friendliness and positivity that is 100 percent genuine. Her story is as expected, one of curiosity, authenticity and fierce determination. And, a whole lot of moving around, exploring new places and amazing opportunities.
From New Orleans to Athens, Georgia
Born and raised in New Orleans, Georgia was the youngest of her siblings by a lot—her closest sibling is eight years older! Despite the large age difference, she remembers her childhood with fondness. Growing up, she spent just about every weekend with her family—immediate and extended—on the East Pearl River at their camp in Pearlington, MS.
Georgia went to the same school from Kindergarten through high school, so when it came to college, she was ready for a change of scenery. Reluctant to succumb to the school with her namesake, she only discovered the University of Georgia during a college tour of surrounding schools. She instantly fell in love with Athens and enrolled as a pre-business major. She quickly realized the classes were not for her and switched majors to journalism. It was a good fit, considering her parents called her “Curious Georgia” as a child.
Publishing, Writing, and Editing, City to City
Georgia was fresh out of college when she started her first gig in the world of publishing as an Editorial Assistant and Project Editor at Oxmoor House, the cookbook and lifestyle division of Southern Progress Corporation, responsible for magazines such as Cooking Light and Southern Living. She stayed in Birmingham, Alabama for two-and-a-half years writing, editing, and project-managing cookbooks and coffee table books. She described this work as a huge learning experience that she loved fiercely.
Eventually, she felt the pull of New Orleans and the people she loved, so she decided to return home and landed a job on the production team at Gambit, New Orleans’ leading alternative newsweekly. There she shifted focus from dealing with books to all aspects of shipping out a weekly newspaper. She orchestrated across departments to pull everything together and get the newspaper in people’s hands every week.
“I loved the team and having my fingertip on the pulse of the city,” she tells me about her hometown.
But soon enough, life whisked her away again and she and her husband were bound for New York City.
The Big Apple Years
Despite the competitive nature of the big city, her publishing background led Georgia to Clarkson Potter, the lifestyle imprint of Random House. Back in the world of cookbooks and design books, Georgia worked on marketing and PR campaigns for authors including Ina Garten (The Barefoot Contessa), Alice Waters of Chez Panisse, Mark Bittman, and designers like Rebecca Atwood and New Orleans’ very own Bryan Batt.
“Everyone thought I was crazy to leave that job. It sounds all fun and glamorous, but the corporate culture really didn’t sit well with me.” After two years at Random House, Georgia took a leap of faith and left her comfortable full-time job with benefits and set out on what she called The Year of No Fear. “I just couldn’t wake up and look at myself in the mirror and say Fake it ‘til you make it one more day.” She worked several part-time jobs nannying and doing operations for two small businesses while taking time to refocus and get clarity on what she wanted for her professional life.
After eight months of soul-searching and working 12-hour days, Georgia did what she said she never would again: applied for another corporate job. This time at West Elm’s headquarters in DUMBO. Working as a project manager on the copy team, Georgia found herself right at home. “The job role itself was a perfect fit because it required a nice blend of communication and coordination skills.” But what really set it apart was the people and the environment. “The interview process was a breath of fresh air. Everyone was so down-to-earth, and the whole office vibe felt very collaborative and creative.” Georgia loved her tight-knit team and her job, but inevitably, life pulled her into yet another magical direction when she and her husband moved to the Lower Hudson Valley for his job and they welcomed their son Pete into the world ahead of schedule.
“Being a stay-at-home parent was by far the hardest and most rewarding job I’ve ever had,” she recalls. “It terrified me, actually. It wasn’t ever my plan, but it was necessary for Pete’s health. I feel so fortunate that I was able to put everything on hold and focus on our family.”
Family Life and Coming Home to New Orleans
As it would happen, life circumstances collided perfectly in one moment to bring Georgia and her family home to New Orleans in early 2019.
“We did a lot of soul searching,” she tells me about their return to New Orleans. One thing Georgia knew was that she was ready to get back to work. “Brian is married to my cousin and he knew I was looking. He really encouraged me to look at Revelry. He had such great things to say about the company, and it sounded like a good potential fit.” So she started tracking the job boards. When a Quality Assurance Tester job was posted, it caught her eye.
“I was excited to learn something new. I didn’t have a lick of experience in tech, but I’d done plenty of QA in previous jobs, so this felt like a good launching pad,” she tells me, remembering her thoughts about transitioning into a brand new field. Overwhelmed at first, Georgia kept right along. She compared the first few weeks to being in a foreign country, but she was encouraged by all of the positive interactions she had with fellow Revelers. “Everyone seemed like real, good people to work with who genuinely enjoy being at Revelry,” she tells me (and I agreed). “Personally, job satisfaction has just as much to do with the people I work with on a daily basis as it does the actual work I’m doing. I’m lucky to have landed in such a great spot with so much room for growth.”
And we’re so lucky to have you, Georgia, with all the experience you bring, and your positive, awesome attitude! Now it’s time for some of our essential Revelry Q & A’s.
What stood out about Revelry that drove your decision to join the company?
The people and the culture. I feel so grateful to be a part of it. When I started, I felt like such an imposter (and sometimes I still do), but to be surrounded by such a supportive welcoming group of people has made all the difference.
Which of your daily work tools is your favorite?
I’ve loved using Slack. It’s a great communication tool, especially for keeping things out in the open, which we’re all about here at Revelry. That was definitely an adjustment to get used to, but I realize now it’s a much more efficient way to work. Work smarter, not harder, as they say. Zoom is another one. I need my daily dose of human interaction even if it’s just a video conference call!
What mobile device do you use and what apps are on your home screen?
I have an iPhone 7 Plus. Apps on my home screen: Instagram, of course. Spotify. ClassPass. Libby, which I should really start using more. Amazon Prime. AccuWeather. A whole category of Finance apps—YNAB has been a game changer for our family budget. Headspace. And Google Photos. I love the Memories feature. It’s like hopping in a time machine when pictures of our time in NYC or baby Pete pop up.
What non-digital product could you not live without?
My morning cup of coffee. I love the ritual, and I love starting off the day being reminded of my dad. His family started French Market Coffee, and he worked in the business for a long time. He knew everything about coffee, and he was always concocting new blends at home, trying to make the perfect cup. My mom still makes his signature recipe every morning, so I make sure to get a cup every time I stop by the house.
Who inspires you? Why?
My dad. He was and remains the most genuine person I’ve ever known. True to himself to the core. He told it like it was. He wore his heart on his sleeve. He was the best storyteller and the best listener. When he asked you a question, he listened intently and truly cared for your answer. It didn’t matter who you were—his brother, his friend, the UPS man, or a stranger in line at Dorignac’s. He treated everyone as his equal. He had his flaws, of course, but he was such a bright light, and he was my best friend. I miss him!
What’s your favorite Slack channel at Revelry?
#watercooler, of course. And #revbeats. I love discovering new and old music and hearing what everyone else is into.
What’s your favorite emoji in the Revelry Slack?
Ha! Lately it’s been(:celeryman:). For those that don’t know it, picture Paul Rudd doing The Carlton Dance. I’m not sure where it’s from, but it just makes me laugh. (Neither of us knew so we ended up searching and finding out it was from a skit from the Tim & Eric Awesome Show. You learn something new every day.)
What’s the best thing about your job?
I think it’s pretty obvious—the people. And the culture, in general. And the challenge. It can be overwhelming to learn something brand new, but you don’t grow when you’re comfortable.
Has your background in publishing helped you in your current job?
In order to be successful at QA testing, you have to be detail-oriented and you have to be able to communicate well. All my years in publishing gave me a lot of experience with that. I get to use my eye for detail on a daily basis, checking for any errors, inconsistencies, and room for UX improvement. When I come across a bug or see the opportunity for feature enhancements, I get to use my writing skills to clearly and concisely explain what’s broken or what could be better.
Welcome Georgia! Bringing an eye for detail and creativity to the world of tech!