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Product Manager at a Global Technology Company

Q: Where are you located?

A: I'm located in Seattle, WA.

Q: What is your role title?

A: My role title is Product Manager.

Q: In your words, describe what you actually do?

A: I manage the roadmap, requirements, and data models for a major search engine. I work closely with engineers to build new features and optimize search performance.

Q: How long have you been doing this role for?

A: I've been in this PM role at my company for 3 years now.

Q: How did you get to this point in your career?

A: I started out as a software engineer but moved into product management because I was interested in the strategy and planning aspects. I worked my way up from associate PM to my current position.

Q: When it comes to remuneration, what are your three B’s? (Base, Bonus, Benefits?)

A: My base salary is $220K. I get an annual bonus and stock options. Benefits include full medical, 401K match, and generous vacation.

Q: I’m not going to ask you who you work for, but, what industry is your company in?

A: I work at a leading global provider of computer software; hardware for computer, mobile and gaming systems; and cloud services.

Q: When it comes to work flexibility, is your work primarily office-based, fully remote, or a mix of both? Which do you prefer? Does your company allow you to be flexible?

A: I work 60% of the time from home and 40% in the office. I like the flexibility to balance both. My company is very flexible on remote work policies.

Q: What does an average week or a typical day look like for you? Can you walk me through your day? What time do you arrive and start at work, what are your main tasks/responsibilities, who do you interact with, what meetings do you attend, etc.?

A: A typical day involves meetings with my team, working on requirements docs, analyzing data on search metrics, meeting with engineering teams, and helping prioritize the roadmap. I start work around 9am and finish around 6pm.

Q: What does a typical day look like when things are going well vs a more challenging/stressful day?

A: Busy days are when we have a product launch or deadline. Stressful times are when there are outages or platform issues to resolve.

Q: What skills or knowledge are most important for your day-to-day work?

A: Important skills are communication, data analysis, technical understanding, and product sense.

Q: What are some examples of recent accomplishments or contributions you've made in this role?

A: I recently led the launch of our new intelligent image search feature which has seen great adoption.

Q: Do you have a supportive manager and do you feel valued?

A: My manager trusts me to run my area and gives me latitude. I feel empowered in my role.

Q: How much time do you spend collaborating with colleagues vs working independently?

A: I'd say 70% of my time is independent work and 30% collaborating with others.

Q: Is there anything you wish you would have known before starting this role?

A: I wish I had known how much influence PMs have over the product direction. I would have gotten into PM earlier.

Q: What do you hate most about your role?

A: The politics between teams can be frustrating at times.

Q: What do you love most about your role?

A: I love seeing our work be used by millions of people. And I like working at the leading edge of search technology.

Q: What’s the next role for you and when do you hope to achieve this?

A: In 2 years I hope to be a Group PM managing a portfolio of products.

Q: Is your next role going to be with the same company or a different one?

A: I plan to stay at my company because I believe in its mission and culture.

Q: What’s one piece of advice you could give to someone who aspires to reach your position?

A: Never lose sight of the customer in every decision. Prioritise ruthlessly. And speak up early and often.

Q: It’s Day 1 for someone in your role. What one piece of advice would you give them to succeed?

A: Here is my advice for someone on Day 1 as a Product Manager:

Build trust and credibility with your engineers early on. Sit with them, listen to their challenges, and understand the tech deeply. Don't come across as dictating requirements without empathy. Bring them along and incorporate their feedback.

Secondly, connect with users as much as possible via data, research, and talking to customer support teams. Immerse yourself in the customer's shoes and advocate for their needs.

Finally, don't spread yourself too thin. It's easy to get overwhelmed as a PM by trying to juggle too many projects. Focus on the vital few priorities that will move the needle for customers and the business. Say no to some opportunities if they don't align.

Doing these three things - building engineering relationships, connecting with users, and prioritizing ruthlessly - will set a new PM up for success in delivering value and earning respect. Stay humble, be curious, and remember that products are built by teams.

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