Becca Banyard is joined by Hannah Clark, Editor of The Product Manager and the new host of The Product Manager Podcast. Listen to hear Hannah’s career journey and to learn what you can expect from this new season of the Product Manager Podcast.
- Hannah’s background [0:39]
- Previously worked in tech, but her more immediate background is in content production. She’s been doing that since 2017.
- Her education is in the fields of journalism, media production, public relations and advertising.
- She ran her own little marketing business, and when the pandemic hit, she took on a role managing a team of bloggers, which was a natural progression into the world of digital publishing.
- Podcasting is a new field that she’s always been excited to try. And is now making her grand debut as the host of the Product Manager Podcast.
- What is the Product Manager podcast and what can listeners expect by tuning in to the show? [3:12]
- A community of product people that seeks to share their “secret sauce” for success with others working in the product world.
- The approach of the show is asking the right questions from the perspective of someone who is probably an associate or entry level product manager.
- Coming from a place of curiosity and humility—showcasing the best of the experience and value that these really smart, successful, accomplished people in the product space have to share.
- How has product management changed over the last few years? [4:26]
- Product management is and has always changed constantly, especially now with large language models like GPT-4, GPT-3.
- Product Managers are really at the heart of things. We wear a lot of hats and one of them is to be the stand-in for the customer and see products through the customer’s eyes and advocate for them. And in that way, product managers and product management in general has to change as often as the customers’ needs change.
- That means understanding these current AI technologies, their benefits and the risks.
- The problems that products are solving are also changing. The way we live now is almost unrecognizable. So the product managers really have their work cut out for them in terms of needing to be so attentive to these little butterfly effects that just change the outcomes for their products completely.
- What are some other pain points for product managers today? [6:00]
- The changing nature of the landscape.
- Prioritization is a huge thing. Product managers have product roadmaps, they have prioritization tools. There’s a whole discipline around prioritizing features and because it’s hard, it’s really challenging. There’s no easy or simple or correct way to do it. Everybody does it a little bit differently and it’s going to change depending on what your organization is.
- Product managers don’t build anything by themselves. They need engineers, designers, marketers. They need stakeholders from every corner of the business, and they’re really that point person for a lot of that communication.
- There’s a trust element too, that’s a big pain point. Behind closed doors, when you have private conversations with some PMs, there’s definitely a feeling that they don’t always have the trust of the executive team. It’s more of a systemic issue that’s difficult to overcome because there’s a bit of a power imbalance there.
Meet Our Guest
Hannah is the Editor & Podcast Host of The Product Manager. Following six years of experience in the tech industry, she pivoted into the content space where she’s had the pleasure of working with some of the most brilliant voices in the product world. Driven by insatiable curiosity and a love of bringing people together, her mission is to foster a fun, vibrant, and inspiring community of product people.
Resources from this episode:
Related articles and podcasts:
- About The Product Manager Podcast
- Why Is Product Management Important?
- 15 Statistics You Should Know About A Career In Product Management
- A Guide To The Product Manager Career Path + Roles And Skills
- What Is Product-Led Growth, And Why Should I Care?
- How To Master Cross Functional Collaboration: Break Silos, Build Trust, And Make Magic
Read the Transcript:
We’re trying out transcribing our podcasts using a software program. Please forgive any typos as the bot isn’t correct 100% of the time.
Becca Banyard: Hello everyone and welcome to the Product Manager podcast!
Some time has passed since our last episode, but we are back. I am Becca Banyard, the podcast producer here. And today is a very special day because we are relaunching the podcast and I have the absolute joy, the great pleasure of introducing and interviewing our very own Hannah Clark. She's the Editor of The Product Manager and she is now the podcast host of the show. So she's gonna be sharing about the Product Manager podcast and why you will want to tune in.
So Hannah, welcome to your show!
Hannah Clark: Thank you, Becca. I'm so excited to be here.
Becca Banyard: So let's start off with the basics. Who is Hannah? Tell me about your background, how you got to be here at the Product Manager, and what gets you excited about product management?
Hannah Clark: Sure. So I worked in tech in a past life, but my more immediate background is actually in content production. I've been doing that since 2017. My education is actually in the fields of journalism, media production, public relations and advertising, so this whole spectrum of media content, that world.
And from there I launched into this career working for marketing agencies, content production. It was my specialty this whole time and then I kinda transitioned into a freelance. Outside I ran my own little marketing business, and then when the pandemic hit, I ended up taking on a role managing a team of bloggers, which was a natural progression into digital publishing.
And hence my role at the Product Manager, an editor standpoint. And then podcasting is this new field that I've always been excited to try. And here I am, I'm making my grand debut as the Product Manager podcast host. So listeners might be wondering why somebody isn't a product manager is the host of the Product Manager?
And so this comes back to what I mentioned before about my history working in tech. So I actually did work in the tech sector for six years, so I have some pre-existing interest and knowledge about technology. But the company that I worked for was a pretty well-known, large tech conglomerate. I got this really unique opportunity to spend at Silicon Valley.
And in that time, I was able to network with some really fascinating people who are just much smarter than me, but also learn some of these nuts and bolts and internal intricacies of the tech world from startups to these big multinational level organizations. And really get an insider perspective on that product management process more from a whole spectrum, like the first iteration and ideas to what's the marketing and launch plan, to how does it reach the end user and that service strategy that accompanies that?
Just more the end that I worked with directly, but I approached this role now with this sort of a unique skillset of research and networking and storytelling combined with this understanding of the tech industry and interest in technology and understanding of how technology impacts the world.
So that's why I'm here and I really hope that comes through for the listeners.
Becca Banyard: Amazing. Thank you for sharing that. Sounds like you have such a beautiful mosaic of experience that has brought you to right where you are. So I'm looking forward to hearing all that you have to share on the show. So let's talk about the podcast.
What is the Product Manager podcast and what can listeners expect by tuning in to the show?
Hannah Clark: So the tagline of the show is, "We are a community of product people that seeks to share our secret sauce for success with others working in the product world", which is true, but having had these great conversations with product managers on the show and working with them directly in the Product Manager, the blog.
Something that I've really come to understand about product management is the importance of asking the right questions. And there's a huge emphasis on it in the discipline, and I'm seeing more and more that there's really a huge emphasis on that here. So I see the approach of the show as really that main piece of value and the approach that we are taking is, asking the right questions from the perspective of someone like me who has probably an associate level product manager, amount of knowledge, like an entry level person.
I know the basics, but also a journalism background. And in doing so, we're taking no knowledge for granted. We're coming from a place of curiosity and humility and so doing, showcasing really the best of the experience and value that these really smart, successful, accomplished people in the product space have to share.
Becca Banyard: So with the experience and the knowledge that you have already in product management and with the research that you've done, how has product management changed over the last few years?
Hannah Clark: This is a great question because product management is and has always changed constantly. And especially now with large language models like GPT-4, GPT-3, it's probably going to be different again before we're finished recording this episode.
But Product Manager is really at the heart of things. We wear a lot of hats and one of them is to be the stand in for the customer and see products through the customer's eyes and advocate for them. And in that way, the Product Manager and product management in general has to change as often as the customers needs change.
So right now, that means understanding these current AI technologies, their benefits, the risks, and there are huge risks. In fact, if anyone listening is an expert in the risks of AI, please reach out. We would love to talk to you. And that's both from a user's perspective and an internal perspective. How can it benefit the user and how can it benefit product manager in their day-to-day?
And then there's other major industry trends like product led growth that have all these huge disruptive impacts on how the business is conducted just in the tech industry in general. So on top of that, the problems that products are solving are also changing. So the way that we live, if you look back, two, four years ago, the way we live now is almost unrecognizable.
So the product managers really have their work cut out for them in terms of needing to be so attentive to these little butterfly effects that just change the outcomes for their products completely.
Becca Banyard: Aside from the rapid growth and all the change that product management has seen, what are some other pain points for product managers today or some pain points within the rapid changing nature of the job?
Hannah Clark: Of course the changing nature of the landscape. I hesitate to even call it a pain point cause I really think it's part of the fun of the job is just having to stay on top of that stuff. It's probably what draws a lot of people to the profession, but a lot of the pain points within the profession itself are probably what they always have been, maybe in a different shape.
But at the heart of things, prioritization is a huge thing. Product managers have roadmaps, they've got prioritization tools. There's a whole discipline around prioritizing features and because it's hard, it's really challenging. There's no easy or simple or correct way to do it. Everybody does it a little bit differently and it's going to change depending on what your organization is.
So that's just a whole space on itself. There's the aspect of cross-functional collaboration, which is the lifeblood of product management. So this isn't gonna be news to any product managers listening, but product managers don't build anything by themselves. They need engineers, designers, marketers. They need stakeholders from every corner of the business, and they're really that point person for a lot of that communication.
And let's put it this way, if you're a creative person and you get invited to a networking event for data analysts, it's a different communication style and vice versa. These are all people who, within their silos have a specific or different way of communicating or understanding priorities or goals or problems.
And so the Product Manager, they really have a tall ask to communicate effectively with all these people and reach a unified goal. And then there's the user aspect of it, the user research. So of course there's so many tools to gain user insights, so many tools, so many. And they're chronically imperfect.
There's a strategic piece to parse these insights and just get great samples of meaningful information that you can turn into, a product feature or adjust the product features that you have to better fit the market. This is maybe a controversial one, but there's a trust element too, that's a big pain point.
I don't think a lot of product managers are comfortable putting their name behind this on LinkedIn. But behind closed doors, when you have, private conversations with some PMs, there's definitely a feeling that they don't always have the trust of the executive team. So you have this double-edged sword of pressure to act on, hunches from the C-suite, but then there's also accountability when it doesn't work out.
So there's a lot of frustration around that. And that's, I think, more of a systemic issue that's more difficult to overcome because there's a really a bit of a power imbalance there. So that's my hot take.
Becca Banyard: Thank you so much for that hot take. I look forward to hearing future episodes where your guests address some of these pain points and give tips for how to overcome them and address them.
So with that in mind, who can we expect to hear from in your first few episodes on the Product Manager podcast?
Hannah Clark: Oh, I'm so excited to share these with you guys. So Drew Lesicko of SoulCycle came on the show. He talked about staying relevant in the long term by really leaning into your unique selling proposition. He's also just such a cool guy. It was a great conversation.
We had Chris Butler of Google's Core Machine Learning group. To say he's a fascinating person would be a huge understatement. He left me almost speechless with his ideas or own decision making. We had Lucie Buisson of Contentsquare. She has interesting background as the head of product at Contentsquare, and she had some really cool insights on maintaining your culture as you scale, which is such a fraught time. And building relationships with customers at the UX level and not necessarily at the expense of privacy, which is very cool.
So we just had so many great conversations so far, so many to come. And all guests that have just humbled me so much, and I really think that they'll all honor your listening time with the gifts they have to share.
Becca Banyard: Absolutely. There is so much to be excited for that's coming up in the pipe. Hannah, that's all we have for today. I'm gonna pass over the reins to you. I'm gonna pass the torch of the podcast to you. You are now the host, so why don't you close this show out?
Hannah Clark: Thanks, Becca. It is such an honor and such a privilege. And to everyone listening, thank you so much for tuning in. You can listen to the episodes I just mentioned and many more by subscribing to the Product Manager podcast wherever you get your podcasts.
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