Do You Have a Pulse? Identifying The Traits That Make Great Product Managers

D1818ae0a2ffe2f97c19dcb71d29c403?s=47 Jonathan Wong
September 19, 2020

Do You Have a Pulse? Identifying The Traits That Make Great Product Managers

Talk on hiring product managers for The Product Folks.

D1818ae0a2ffe2f97c19dcb71d29c403?s=128

Jonathan Wong

September 19, 2020
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Transcript

  1. Do You Have a Pulse? Identifying The Traits That Make

    Great Product Managers
  2. Hello! I am Jonathan Wong ▪ Senior Director of Product

    at ONE Championship ▪ Ex-Rakuten Viki, Ex-Microsoft ▪ Spent 15 years doing different things in tech – but first love is still building entertaining products for users ▪ @armchairdude on Twitter, @armchairtheorist everywhere else 2
  3. It’s hard to hire experienced PMs in Asia Especially if

    you are not Facebook, Google or Amazon 3
  4. Hiring is often a trade-off decision Performance ceiling vs. Time

    to hit ceiling 4 Time Performance Inexperienced hire with amazing potential Solid experienced hire So-so experienced hire Try to avoid
  5. Which PM candidate would you hire? Let’s play a game!

  6. CANDIDATE A Q1: Which PM would you hire? CANDIDATE B

    6 • Early career (3 years exp.) • Former (failed) entrepreneur • Loves K-dramas • Prepared for PM interview for 6 months • No PM experience Note: These photos are of people that do not exist - https://www.thispersondoesnotexist.com/ Opening: Junior PM at Rakuten Viki • Mid career (5 years exp.) • Worked in tech MNC for whole career and learned a lot of valuable experiences • Wanted to pivot to exciting world of startups • No PM experience
  7. MY ANSWER 7 Opening: Junior PM at Rakuten Viki CANDIDATE

    A CANDIDATE B • Early career (3 years exp.) • Former (failed) entrepreneur • Loves K-dramas • Prepared for PM interview for 6 months • No PM experience • Mid career (5 years exp.) • Worked in tech MNC for whole career and learned a lot of valuable experiences • Wanted to pivot to exciting world of startups • No PM experience
  8. CANDIDATE A Q3: Which PM would you hire? CANDIDATE B

    8 Opening: Mid-level PM working on monetization • Mid career (7 years exp.) • Previously worked in big 5 consulting firm • Favorite part about being a consultant is meeting new people and making new friends • Some limited PM experience through consulting work • Mid career (6 years exp.) • Previously worked as an engineer building monetization features • Want to become a PM because he couldn’t get along with all the PMs he worked with before – thinks they are terrible, and he can do a better job
  9. MY ANSWER 9 Opening: Mid-level PM working on monetization CANDIDATE

    A CANDIDATE B • Mid career (7 years exp.) • Previously worked in big 5 consulting firm • Favorite part about being a consultant is meeting new people and making new friends • Some limited PM experience through consulting work • Mid career (6 years exp.) • Previously worked as an engineer building monetization features • Want to become a PM because he couldn’t get along with all the PMs he worked with before – thinks they are terrible, and he can do a better job
  10. CANDIDATE A Q2: Which PM would you hire? CANDIDATE B

    10 • Mid career (8 years exp.) • Engineering background • PM experience in logistics and ecommerce domains • Strong presenter; frequently speaks at events • No experience in blockchain • Mid career (7 years exp.) • PM experience in a large MNC bank working on banking apps • Has an MBA • Thinks crypto is interesting, but so far hasn’t invested in it yet • No experience in blockchain Opening: Senior PM for DeFi crypto product
  11. MY ANSWER 11 Opening: Senior PM for DeFi crypto product

    CANDIDATE A CANDIDATE B • Mid career (7 years exp.) • Engineering background • PM experience in logistics and ecommerce domains • Strong presenter; frequently speaks at events • No experience in blockchain • Mid career (8 years exp.) • PM experience in a large MNC bank working on banking apps • Has an MBA • Thinks crypto is interesting, but so far hasn’t invested in it yet • No experience in blockchain
  12. P.U.L.S.E. Traits that make great product managers (even if they

    have limited PM experience) Because this is a product management talk, here is yet another acronym…
  13. P is for Purpose Why is sense of purpose important?

    • Sense of Purpose: Knowing exactly why you want to be here, and knowing that this company is the best fit for you • Purpose → Passion → Curiosity and Motivation • On-ramp for inexperienced PMs will be steep, so curiosity and motivation is critical How to identify candidates with this trait? ▪ Q: “You have many options in the job market today; why do you feel that this role is the best fit for you?” ▪ Q: “In any company you would work for, what are the company values that are the most important to you?” ▪ Q: “What motivates you when it comes to product management?" ▪ Ask candidates about their job history and why did they choose to join each company they worked for 13
  14. U is for Upbeat Why is being upbeat important? •

    A PM is the glue that holds a team together, and usually the only cheerleader for the team when everything looks grim • Team morale is a team multiplier, and it always starts with the PM How to identify candidates with this trait? ▪ This is usually an easy trait to identify just by interacting with the candidate during the interview ▪ Q: “Can you share with me your best tactics to motivate your colleagues and teammates?” ▪ Q: “Can you tell me when was the last time that you were really excited at work?” ▪ Q: “Can you describe your ideal workplace?” 14
  15. L is for Logic Why is being logical important? •

    Logic and process drives everything that a PM does • You don’t have to have experience, but you must be able to interpret data, stick to process, and have a logical framework to think through problems How to identify candidates with this trait? ▪ Ask questions around prioritization of tasks ▪ Ask questions around market sizing ▪ Q: “How do you evaluate the success or failure of a feature?” ▪ Q: “Would you launch a feature if it increased KPI (A) by +20% but decreased KPI (B) by -30%?” 15
  16. S is for Streetwise Why is being streetwise important? •

    PMs oftentimes are the one in the team that must drive action, remove obstacles and get things done • Most PMs also have no authority, so must leverage influence and other means to motivate others to action How to identify candidates with this trait? ▪ Q: “Can you tell me about a time you had to persuade someone in authority to follow your suggestion?” ▪ Q: “What’s the first thing you’d do if we hired you?” ▪ Q: “What do you do if your boss ask you to do something that you think is a terrible idea?” ▪ Being a former entrepreneur is also a great leading indicator for being streetwise 16
  17. E is for Eloquence and Empathy Why is having eloquence

    and empathy important? • Eloquence: Being able to effectively let other people understand your position and point of view • Empathy: Being able to effectively extract and understand other people’s position and point of view • Both traits are critical for PMs How to identify candidates with these traits? ▪ Communication skills are easy to identify just by interacting with the candidate during the interview ▪ Q: “Can you describe a time where you had to resolve a conflict between different team members?” ▪ Q: “An unhappy customer emails you about a package that was lost by the post office and wants a refund. Company policy limits refunds to defective products. What do you do?" 17
  18. Frequently Asked Questions 18

  19. What about technical experience? • Technical experience is not a

    pre-requisite in becoming a great PM • Advantages of having technical experience: • Communicate better with engineers • Empathize better with engineers • Reduce “round-tripping” during discussions with stakeholders • However, certain product domains may greatly favor technical experience – e.g. API products, multimedia products, etc. 19
  20. What about domain knowledge? • Domain knowledge may be important

    or even critical for certain product domains – e.g. blockchain products, industrial products • Most product domains, especially B2B SaaS or B2C do not need domain knowledge • Things that are more important than domain knowledge: • Good, documented institutional knowledge • Logical mindset to digest and interpret data • Curiosity 20
  21. What about product sense, product intuition, product mindset, etc.? •

    What is product sense? The ability to make correct decisions even when faced with considerable ambiguity (Shreyas Doshi, Stripe Product Leader) • Three key aspects of product sense (Doshi): • Domain knowledge • Empathy • Creativity • Having a strong logical framework and process to help source, validate and improve ideas are just as important 21
  22. What about an MBA? • Good to have, but not

    mandatory • MBA programs offer two main things: • Business frameworks and case studies • Networking opportunities • Both could be useful for PMs, but neither of which are critical in becoming a great PM • Can consider candidates with alternative qualifications too: • Former entrepreneur • Other advanced degrees 22
  23. Helping the new PM be successful 23 Assign PM Buddy

    Conduct Frequent 1:1s Practice Situational Leadership
  24. In Summary Hiring is often a trade-off decision Experience provides

    a faster ramp, but having the right traits provide a higher ceiling Prioritize traits over skills or experience Identifying the right traits in candidates using the PULSE framework Understand what traits and experiences are critical for your product domain, and what are good-to- have Making the hire is only the beginning Help the new hire to be successful through frequent 1:1s, PM buddies and situational leadership 24
  25. A great product manager is like the oil that makes

    everything go well and a bad product manager is the sand that makes everything stop. 25 Jon Stross Cofounder of Greenhouse.io
  26. Credits Special thanks to all the people who made and

    released these awesome resources for free: ▪ Presentation template by SlidesCarnival ▪ Photographs by Unsplash 26