Issue 36

Techsylvania 2015 - On the Product Managers in IT

Călin Biriș
Digital Director @ Loopaa

When I arrived to Techsylvania, at the Students' Arts Center, everybody was still in the break between the panels, though I was a little late. I met some of my online colleagues and we exchanged a few words on the event. They appreciated a lot the quality of the content they had received in the two days and told me that their expectations had been exceeded.

I hurried up in order not to miss the panel. The following people entered the stage:


The speakers began to talk about the role and the qualities of a successful Product Manager in an IT company. I will reproduce below some of their interesting answers:

What is a Product Manager and what does he actually do?

• he needs to figure out the rules of the game and he has to be aware of the importance of winning;

• he is a salesperson who has to sell his projects both internally, to the members of the team, and to the other interested parties;

• the Product Managers establish a hierarchy of priorities and have to make decisions regarding what to develop and when to develop (a new feature);

• within a bigger organization, a Product Manager has to build inertia and gravitational force around the idea that he wishes to develop. They can do this thing by testing the hypothesis and projects in an incipient phase, trying to get a good feedback among the potential clients;

• a product manager is a "translator" between the CEO and the members of the team. Basically, he has to communicate the desires of both parties on each other's language, giving them a shape to motivate both parties to get involved.

What are the qualities of a Product Manager?

What should we look for when hiring a Product Manager?

• he/ she is a resourceful person

• he/ she has strong beliefs in order to sustain the things he/she believes in, but in the same time, to the contrary, he/she lacks ego and does not wish for recognition. I would have put it differently. I believe a Product Manager needs to be a good salesperson, he/she has to know how to convincingly communicate an idea, but he/she has to be willing to negotiate and accept different opinions;

• he/she is a good psychologist, capable to understand the human behavior of his/her team mates as well as that of his/her clients;

• he/she is not afraid to make mistakes. A good Product Manager takes this risk, learns from mistakes and is always ready to start all over again;

• he/she has technical skills, or at least he/she understands them;

• he/she is a person you like to have a conversation with;

• he/she has had successful projects before;

• he/she does not forget about the clients' power in validating the new ideas and projects. He/She always tests hypothesis;

• he/she always relates to data.

Questions from the audience

How should a Project Manager provide feedback?

• a Product Manager never gives personal feedback. He is not the boss, nor does he make annual assessments of the staff. His role is to evaluate situations, specifying what functions and what doesn't, providing the conditions for solution within the team;

• it is important for a Product Manager to generate an environment that is favourable to making decisions in the team and to the collaboration between the members.

How do you work with a remote team?

• a team having its members at a distance from one another can function well on the execution level, provided that everyone is clearly told what to do;

• this work method does not function / is not recommended for startups or wherever there is a need for quick decisions;

• the good way to build remote teams which can work well together is to give them the opportunity to get to know each other from the beginning and in person, face to face;

• finally, the solution can be found in the book entitled ReWork.

Time flew away. I couldn't believe how fast. I enjoyed the panel. The speakers talked from their experience and this could be felt. I wished I could have remained at this event, but I wasn't able to do that. I am glad we have more and more important names on the scene of the events in Cluj. I wonder who is going to come to the next edition of Techsylvania?




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