April Underwood: How to Communicate Smarter

September 27 - On The Dot

All right, ladies, it’s time for some real talk. I’m in a bad mood. On days like today, I want to hole myself up in my living room and be annoyed in peace. It’s tough, though, when you have work that needs to get done.

Like joy and laughter and love, the propensity for bad moods is something we all share. That’s why I’m thankful for email. I can sit at my computer and type my words very carefully. Not a single soul will know whether I’m rolling my eyes as I type and swiftly deleting rage emojis before pressing “Send.”


You know when you hear a number about how much time you spend doing something—like how you spend one-third of your life asleep—and you’re totally shocked?

You’ll feel the same way when you hear about today’s Women in Numbers figure. Women spend 100 million minutes more per month interacting via email than the industry average. One hundred million minutes more! Compared with guys, women spend seven minutes more per month on our smartphones browsing email. Good thing I have unlimited data!

WOMAN TO WATCH: April Underwood, Vice President of Product at Slack

If you haven’t heard of the app Slack, you must be slacking. (Sorry, I just had to make that joke.) If you’re like me, someone sends you a message and you decide to check it later because you’re busy. But then you can’t remember how they messaged you. Was it through social media or email or by carrier pigeon?

This is where Slack comes in. It’s a marvel of a messaging app that makes things super easy for us busy bees. It syncs email, Google Docs, Twitter and more than 100 types of communication you might use at work into one interface. And April Underwood is the enterprising vice president of product at this booming business, where she identifies which new features to introduce and sorts through other apps to determine those that might complement Slack’s technology.

Through Slack, you can organize your conversations by project, topic or whatever your heart desires, as well as reach colleagues via direct messages. It’s easy to drag and drop files. (Gone are the days of having to give co-workers color-coded floppy disks.) Oh, and here’s my favorite feature: You’re able to easily search your entire archive, so you can finally find that long-lost important conversation about sauvignon blanc food pairings.

April is nothing if not a real techie genius. And that mastery has always come naturally to her. Case in point: When April was a kid, she created a software project to catalog her baseball cards. When this smarty hit college with a chemical-engineering scholarship, she wasn’t feeling it. So, she took a different direction and went to work in Internet tech support. April learned how to code—a super useful skill in the Internet age—because building web pages was less stressful than dealing with angry customers.

April’s career continued along that path. Before landing at Slack, she worked with some pretty major tech companies like Travelocity, Google and Twitter. She also keeps herself busy as a founding partner of an all-women, angel-investment company called #Angels.

Slack is now valued at about $4 billion and has an active daily user count of 2.7 million and growing, so, we’d say April is doing something right. Though a lifelong list checker, she says working at a company without a pre-planned instruction manual has led her to find joy in the creative process of building projects from scratch.


We’re sure April Underwood would agree with businessman Paul J. Meyer about his assessment of communication. He said:

“Communication—the human connection—is the key to personal and career success.”

This is Melinda Garvey signing off until next time. Remember, ladies, empowered women empower other women. Share On the Dot so more women can have a voice.

To learn more about our conversation, check us out at OnTheDotWoman.com and talk to us @OnTheDotWoman on Twitter and Instagram. We’d love to hear your voice.

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