Employee Spotlight: Austin J. Hagen

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Position: Project Manager
Time with eTERA: 2 years
Areas of expertise: Case Management, eDiscovery, Training

What do you do you and why?

I’m a project manager, which means that I interact with the client on a daily basis. I help them with training, searching documents, developing efficient workflows and putting together policy and budgets. I like being challenged. Technology and law are always changing and there is always more that we can do. Really, every day can be different. Even if you’re working on the same case, you never really know what might come.

What’s your favorite part about what you do?

Overcoming challenges and obstacles – I love solving challenges by creating an efficient and effective workflow.

What’s a challenge you dealt with recently?

A recent project for a large product manufacturing company had complex production specifications and complex set. It was a lengthy process that entailed a number of different searches and required a number of quality control checks. Some of those were easily automated and some of them had to be manual… At the beginning of the project, it was really trial by fire – we would try something and realize we could do it another way.

What’s one thing you wish everyone knew about your job?

Oftentimes when you think of project management, you think of a linear process. In typical project management, you receive your budget, develop processes and procedures and then, for the most part, you would stick to that. With eDiscovery, while you can try to create processes and procedures, you really have to be very flexible. The project scope can change from day to day or even hour to hour. You could be developing a workflow and a couple hours later something changes in the case that requires you to completely change what you were doing. I’ve always been in electronic discovery, and I enjoy that challenge.

If you could lunch with any historical figure, who would it be?

Maybe George Washington… It would be fascinating to get his thoughts on leadership, what it was like to live during that time and what it was like as a founding father.

Where’s the furthest you’ve been for a project/for personal travel?

For work, I spent two weeks in Japan.

Personally, my wife and I spent our fifth wedding anniversary in Iceland. We were there in October, which was a little rainy and cooler, but the culture and the land were so awesome that we didn’t mind walking around. We spent some time exploring the hot springs, visited a glacial bay and spent some time getting to know the locals.

What’s one thing you wish would change about the project management process?

One thing I would change, although I enjoy the challenges that arise from scope changes, would be a shift in that… Just to make the job more manageable. This is just an ideal. The scope relies on legal rulings and proceedings, so it would be pretty difficult for the industry to adjust to where that would be feasible.

What word or phrase do you overuse?

“Sounds good”… and more recently, “living the dream.” Both are just phrases that I recently noticed that I picked up.

What’s one thing you’re glad eTERA didn’t know about you before you were hired?

Sometimes I like to do process improvement coding. I’m not a programmer but I do understand it on some level. Sometimes I will create scripts and such to help the team out, but it’s definitely not something I want to do full-time.

What’s the best lesson you ever learned from a mentor?

You can always lead. Even if you don’t have a formal management role or title, you can always be looked at as a leader – someone that your peers feel comfortable going to for help or feedback. One thing I really enjoy about working at eTERA is that I have the chance to be involved in the development of best practices, workflows and standard procedures. I can come up with those scripts or ideas on what we can do better without having a formal leadership title. In a smaller, growing company I have that flexibility and opportunity.

In general, I’ve always tried to emulate leaders who go out of their way to treat people with respect even if they don’t agree with what others do or say.


Posted by Emily Burdeshaw, Campaign and Content Manager. Austin (or Emily) can be reached at marketing@eteraconsulting.com.

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