Show and Tell : Kate Mattison

A Q&A with IXL’s Director of Products

In a new series of blog posts, we’ll be introducing you to members of the IXL team. Through fun Q&As, you’ll learn how our employees bring IXL to life, and how we spend our time away from the office.

We’re kicking off this series with an interview with Kate Mattison, Director of Products. Read on to learn about how she helped launch IXL and the best present she’s ever gotten!

The Basics

Name and title: Kate Mattison, Director of Products

Has been at IXL for: 7.5 years

Hometown and current city: Born and raised in Portland, Ore. Currently lives in San Carlos, Calif.

Life at IXL

What did you do prior to coming to IXL?

I got a Ph.D in math from Stanford University. I was studying algebraic topology–it’s really abstract math. My work was related to string theory in physics.

What do you do at IXL? Give us a taste of what a typical day at work is like for you.

I started off at IXL as a product analyst and designer. I created math problems for the launch of IXL, and worked on the other features like reports, standards, and awards. I now oversee all of the content development at IXL – the people on my team design the math and language arts problems on IXL. I spend a lot of my time helping those designers figure out how to solve problems. For example, if they’re working on a skill and they don’t know the best way to ask the question or how to have students interact with the problem, I help come up with solutions.

What do you like about working at IXL?

I love that we get to teach millions of students every day! I also love the people who work here – they’re such a fun and enthusiastic group of people to work with. They’re all very talented and dedicated to what we’re doing, and that makes coming to work every day a really good experience.

Life beyond IXL

What do you like to do in your free time?

I really like to hang out with my 2-year-old son. He loves trains, so we go watch the Caltrain [commuter train] a lot, and find reasons to ride it! I like to hike, and try to go once or twice a week at the great open space preserves in the area. I also cook with my husband. We like to make pork tenderloin with roasted vegetables, especially in the fall.

How would your best friend describe you?

I’d like to think she would say I’m trustworthy, funny, and hardworking.

Lightning round! Answer as quickly as you can:

  • Coffee or tea? Coffee! My husband and I are pretty into coffee – we really love Philz Coffee.
  • Cupcakes or regular cake? Cupcakes
  • PC or Mac? Mac
  • Phone call or text? Text

Just for Fun

This question tests your problem-solving skills: How would you survive a zombie apocalypse?

The best strategy I’ve heard is to get all your supplies on the second floor of your house, and then destroy the stairs so the zombies can’t get upstairs – but unfortunately, I live in a one-story house! I think assembling a team with people who have different roles would be great. I’d like to think I’d be the planner, and my husband would be the guy who could take any broken-down machine and make it work again. We’d also need a medic, and someone who’s a good shot.

It’s the holiday season, so let’s talk presents! What’s the best gift you have gotten?

This is cheesy, but my son was born on New Year’s Day, so he was a pretty good holiday present!