Family Portraits: Matt Tonokawa

Jan 31, 2022


Family Portraits is an employee spotlight series, highlighting the incredible people at GoPro around the globe. In this series, you’ll meet employees working on teams ranging from Product and Engineering to Legal and Operations, all of whom we’re stoked to call our GoPro Family.

Our inaugural Family Portrait kicks off with someone who had quite an inspiring journey to GoPro and has helped pioneer and champion our remote work philosophy. From his first memories of using the HD HERO2, to his internship interview experience at GoPro, and his full relocation to Hawaii – Product Manager, Matt Tonokawa (pronounced toh-noh-kah-wah) sat down with us to shed some color on what his experience has been like as a part of the GoPro Family. 

Matt works as a product manager on the Mounts + Accessories team and while he has been at GoPro for just over three years now, his journey to landing work at GoPro goes well beyond his tenure. Matt was in his first year at college studying mechanical engineering when he first saw the HERO2 launch video. 

“The first thing I did when I got back home to Hawaii for summer break was purchase a GoPro at a local surf shop. I immediately fell in love with the experience of capturing moments with friends and family. I took my camera everywhere; to the beach, hiking, traveling, concerts, sporting events, family dinners - everywhere that I went, it was in my pocket.” 

Over the course of college Matt kept a notebook with sketches of GoPro cameras and ideas for accessories. In an effort to find a career that aligned with his personal passion, Matt interviewed for an internship at GoPro which he was not selected for. Instead, Matt was offered an opportunity to beta test new GoPro products and kept in close contact with one of his interviewers who eventually referred him to a role on the Product team.

“Fast forward three years, and I find myself at my first day at GoPro [headquarters in San Mateo, California] on the Product Team, managing the productization of similar accessories!”

GoPro’s underlying mission is to be a force of positivity, celebrating all things awesome in the world and inspiring people to live active lifestyles. We encourage employees to live their desired lifestyle while being able to show up to work as the best versions of themselves—whether in a GoPro office, their remote workspace of choice, or a bit of both. Matt’s daily work is no exception, utilizing his personal connection with the brand to influence the products he helps produce, all while being a remote employee. 

“I enjoy how immersed I am in the development of the products and their resulting impact on the people who use them. Outside of conceptualizing new products and forming feature requirements, one of my favorite things to do is watch product reviews on YouTube, even if there are negative ones. Not only does it allow me to consume a user’s feedback directly, it gives insight into the specific use cases and environments that the products are being used in. They are often quite entertaining as well!” – There’s no doubt about that! 

The longer Matt has worked at GoPro, the more he has embraced the culture and atmosphere. “My experience at GoPro and conversations that I’ve had with coworkers here about their experience truly makes it feel unparalleled. It’s not often that so many employees of a company, across all teams, are passionate users of the products it creates. It forms an awesome work culture and an environment that is united by the desire to make the best products possible.”

While he loved the office culture at our Headquarters, Matt always felt like his long-term goal was to get back to Hawaii, which was only intensified with the COVID-19 pandemic and a requirement to work from home. 

“Before COVID-19, I knew that I wanted to plant my roots back home in Hawaii. I didn’t share this with many people but I never knew what the possibility of going back to Hawaii was with GoPro – would I have to change roles? Would my time at GoPro have to end to move home? When the pandemic hit, I was living and working from my San Francisco apartment …. [but] I found myself longing to be home in Hawaii,” Matt reflected. 

He wasn’t alone. While a few people in the organization were proactive and temporarily moved elsewhere while offices were closed for safety, Matt was seeking something more permanent. He decided it was time to discuss the possibility with his manager. At this point, GoPro’s approach to remote work was still in development, and the People Team was still trying to determine how to support employees moving remote permanently. Matt was one of the first to voice this desire to make it happen. “It was really cool to hear Nick [Woodman, GoPro Founder and CEO] champion the greater message of supporting employees working remotely.”

Since his relocation back to Hawaii, Matt shared that an obvious benefit is the shift in his schedule. To align with his teammates, Matt kicks his day off around 6-6:30 AM HST to align with the Pacific Time Zone. He’s offline around 3 PM HST and then has several hours of daylight, allowing him to hit the beach, surf or spend time with family. Matt is clearly embracing all of the benefits of remote work while living his best life.

Interested in joining GoPro or learning more about our remote work philosophy? Check out our Careers Page here.  


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