I have worked in product roles in the following places:
This was where I got bitten by the Product bug. I used to work as a Deployment Specialist for enterprise project management tools, such as IBM’s Rational Portfolio Manager and Microsoft’s Project Server. When the project management consultancy I worked for decided to build a project management web application, I was chosen to be the Product Owner since I was the “tools expert”.
I worked on the project from the very beginning, helping craft the product vision, selecting technology (we chose Ruby on Rails), hiring the early development team, setting up the development process. After the project got going, my work focused on drawing mockups, writing user stories and prioritising them with input from multiple stakeholders, and helping the team keep the iterations running smoothly and features being delivered according to plan.
Smiley Media (Smileyfish)
This was my first full-time remote position. Since then I have only worked remote. Smiley Media was an ad network, and I was brought in to work on a new product called Smileyfish. We built a “social discovery” website that was meant to be a place you went to to meet new people. I worked as Product Manager as part of the Product team with four other Product Managers and a Director of Product.
Smiley Media was my first contact with a truly “data driven” company that had optimization as a core practice. I worked on a bunch of really interesting projects, such as:
- Improving metrics for our transaction email – about 70k per day. This included coming up with content for the emails, layout, copy, as well as an admin panel to monitor our performance.
- Creating a system to detect and deal with fake users.
- Creating a “gamification” layer on top of the website.
- Handling the internationalization of the entire website.
- Overhauling the development process to bring in automated testing, doubling the frequency of releases.
Unfortunately, the Smileyfish project was cancelled. When that happened, we worked on a series of MVPs, in an attempt to find a sustainable business model for Smiley Media’s next project. These included a video advertising platform and a novel payment method focused on mobile.
Product Management Freelancer
When Smiley Media work started to lessen, I started taking on work as a remote freelance contractor. This gave me the opportunity to see how product teams operated in some different companies:
- Continued working on MVPs for Smiley Media as a part-time contractor.
- Helped set up a culture of optimization at Cuponation, a Rocket Internet company based in Germany.
- Did some business development for a UK company called Mondago that wanted to bring their IP telephony products to the Brazilian market.
- Started working as “process coach” at JobScore.
I started working for JobScore as a part-time freelancer, and after a few months moved to a full-time position. My initial engagement was as a “process coach” after the development team grew from three to twelve engineers in a short time period and the existing process broke down. When I moved to full-time I took on the role of “Software Engineering Manager”, overseeing the work of all of the engineering team.
My work was focused on team management, prioritisation and making sure things shipped. There was a lot of coaching junior team members (particularly those who became “tech leads”) on how to turn specs into good stories in Pivotal Tracker and on how to run projects. I also helped with product work, writing some specs and creating mockups using Axure.