This is part of our ongoing series profiling some of our community members at Product Makers. If you’re interested in reading others, check out our previous Featured Makers.
This time we’re featuring
Starting in Product Management
How'd you get started making products that matter?
Users! I was originally managing a technical support team and was, by proxy, the "voice of the customer/user" by reporting feedback to developers. Eventually, a senior manager and I decided to start a product management team in the organization.
What's one piece of advice you wish you'd had when you started working in product?
Don't take everything personally. While it's great to get invested in the product that you're working on, not all decisions are personally "against" or "in favor" of you. Allow the users and data to guide your hand, but never feel slighted when things end up being against your initial belief.
Product management today
What do you like the most about your work?
Getting to see the bigger picture. In product management, you're often looking at the entire map of an organization - from users to executives and everyone in-between. It's absurdity at its finest, at times. But I wouldn't change it for anything in the world.
What do you like the least about your work?
Disconnect in expectations. We've all dealt with users or stakeholders who have had wild expectations, no matter how well-intended we were with managing them. It's a constant obstacle but has become an expected "norm" for me.
What are you excited about in the year ahead and your product?
We have been stepping up our game in the entire organization! From rolling out new, exciting features to building out our internal organization to better serve our customers/users - we're tackling it all. We're starting to look at how we can best utilize things like OCR and Machine Learning/Artificial Intelligence - very exciting for the industry at large.
Tell us about something you shipped/launched recently…
We've recently expanded our mail merge capabilities in a way that leaps above our competition. Mail Merge through word processing applications has been around for ages; however, we've started making it more streamlined and easier to understand even for those beginning to use mail merge features.
Who do you most often collaborate with when planning, executing, and bringing new things to market?
Users and Developers. Users will always be the "North Star" as to just how well the market may receive a new feature or enhancement. Our development team is extraordinarily talented in conceiving and delivering solutions. I collaborate with them to ensure that the solution we deliver to our users is technically viable and solves multiple use-cases.
How does Productboard help you in your role?
Productboard helps me identify the features or enhancements that users want us to tackle first. Insights have been a powerful feature that I have used as quantitative data to drive decisions, especially with low-hanging fruit that gets us large wins with customers.
A bit about David outside of product management
🤔 (thinking emoji)
What product would you absolutely love to work on?
I'm a sucker for anything related to machine learning and artificial intelligence. My background in development and mathematics makes me a natural fit. I've also had a side project of my own that I've been working on since around 2004 (off and on), so it's definitely a passion project/topic.
What's a product you'd love to fix and make better?
JIRA/Confluence. I've been using Atlassian products for over a decade at this point and would love the chance to start making some changes on either JIRA or Confluence. Confluence could definitely use some enhancements that are focused on product management and technical writing.
Who's a person that you most admire and why?
The VP of Product Management in a former role, Navya Pandiri. She's truly the epitome of being a product advocate and an innovator. I wouldn't be in product management if not for some of the opportunities she gave me over the years.
I do my best thinking when I'm…
Playing the bass! Playing music is a dual-purpose function for me: "the mind-clearer" and "the eye-opener." Generally, I can develop pretty interesting concepts or solutions to problems or obstacles (not just product-related ones) when I'm in that "happy place" of music.
Outside of work you'll find me…
Programming, playing video games/board games, or playing music. I take the occasional hike, but I generally enjoy doing more outdoor activities during the Autumn/Spring seasons.
Insights on the Product Makers Community
@scott.baldwin cook for your product team?👨🍳
Wait... Scott is the Product Leaders Chef?! The more you know! I think a morning brunch/breakfast would delight the entire team.
How has the Product Makers community helped you thus far?
The Product Makers community has introduced me to a great community of product leaders and makers. It's great to have other product people to discuss obstacles, best practices, implementation tactics, and so much more. I've learned a lot just from reading replies and hope that my own replies are helpful to everyone else.
What do you get the most value from in the community?
The varied ways that people go about solving the same "problem(s)." While our jobs are all about coming up with creative solutions to obstacles/problems, we also have our own "bias." Seeing how other people in the community solve similar things I've dealt with (or am dealing with) has helped me tremendously when thinking of how to implement things in my product and organization.
Is there anything you would like to see happen next in the community?
Would I be out of line to suggest a podcast or weekly/bi-weekly/monthly discussion? While I do think we talk quite a bit, at large, in the Product Makers community - having a medium to discuss more popular topics that several community members could weigh more on could be beneficial too.
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