Upwork Bolsters Product & Experience and Engineering Leadership Teams

Addition of accomplished leaders caps momentous 2021, will fuel accelerated growth in 2022

Upwork, the world’s work marketplace that connects businesses with independent talent, closed 2021 with a number of important appointments in its product & experience (PEX) and engineering organizations, catalyzing strong R&D momentum and setting the company up for sustained success along an accelerated roadmap in 2022.

“Our innovation and product velocity on each of our solutions, delivery models and the platform as a whole have never been more accelerated than where we find ourselves headed into 2022”

In 2021, the Upwork PEX and engineering teams added several key leaders:

  • David Comer was appointed VP of product, delivery models and platform solutions to oversee product development of the numerous ways to work on Upwork. Comer joined Upwork from Walmart eCommerce and spent more than a decade at eBay in product management.
  • Emily McCord joined as VP of product, domains to build and scale Upwork’s Enterprise Suite, payments strategy and products, platform and shared services, and pricing, monetization and market design. McCord held previous product leadership roles at Medable and Starwood Hotels.
  • Brandon Savage was hired as VP of customer experience and trust & safety, following 11 years leading various product management, customer support and customer success functions at Box.
  • Lily Ng was appointed PEX chief of staff and VP of R&D transformation after serving as chief of staff to the CTO at Dropbox and leading operations in the Office of the CEO at Verizon Media.
  • Vikas Agarwal joined as VP of engineering with a focus on enterprise, payments, trust & safety and application platforms. Prior, he was VP of payments at Bolt and GM for community trust & safety at Amazon.
  • Irem Metin was hired as VP of product with responsibility for Project Catalog among other priorities after previously serving in product leadership positions at Shiftgig and TripAdvisor.
  • Apurva Garware was named VP of product and general manager of Talent Marketplace, with prior experience leading product management teams focused on building marketplaces at Chegg, Amazon and Microsoft.
  • Serge Doubinski joined to expand the enterprise, marketplace and talent customer bases as VP of growth, following multiple years spent in product management at Rakuten.
  • Fran Murphy was appointed VP of community to revamp the platform, events and educational resources after leading similar initiatives for Anaplan.

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In 2022, the Upwork PEX and engineering teams expect to expand further through the hiring of VPs to lead payments, data science, data analytics engineering, business development, and design, research and writing.

“These visionary leaders set the pace for Upwork’s momentum throughout 2021 and propelled us from being a single-product line company to a multi-product line company in less than 12 months,” said Sam Bright, chief product & experience officer at Upwork. “Everything in that body of work was meticulously informed by customer needs, so much so that over 40 percent of all Upwork product releases and tests were directly influenced by feedback from our voice of the customer program.”

By increasing the depth of the PEX and engineering organizations and focusing on customer feedback and experience, Upwork was able to deliver multiple new solutions and countless features in 2021, including:

  • The global launch of Project Catalog, a curated collection of projects predefined by freelancers that clients can browse and buy from in just a few clicks.
  • The introduction of Talent Scout, a recruiting solution that connects companies with pre-vetted expert talent selected from the platform by specialized Upwork recruiters.
  • Improvements to Enterprise Suite offerings like Bring Your Own Talent, Direct Contracts, and Payroll.
  • The introduction of Virtual Talent Bench, a series of features that makes relationship building central to the customer experience on Upwork.
  • More integrated ways for clients and independent talent to collaborate and communicate, like Loom asynchronous video, scheduling meetings, and messaging enhancements.
  • Experimentation with advertising and market design capabilities like Available Now Badges for more customer control and flexibility.
  • Advancements to platform fundamentals, like improved search and match capabilities as well as page speed.

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In 2021, Upwork was recognized by the Stevie Awards as the winner of “HR Tech Solution of the Year,” claimed silver in the Best In Biz Awards for both “Product Line of the Year – Enterprise and SMB” and “Enterprise Service of the Year,” and landed a ranking in G2 Crowd’s 2021 Best Software Awards.


“Our innovation and product velocity on each of our solutions, delivery models and the platform as a whole have never been more accelerated than where we find ourselves headed into 2022,” said Saty Bahadur, chief technology officer at Upwork. “This incredible progress by our retooled engineering and product & experience teams is truly changing the way businesses and independent professionals work together.”