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We're thrilled to introduce you to the members of our all-new Editorial Advisory Board! We've partnered with these three industry leaders to share their depth of experience and help us shape the content you read and listen to here on The Product Manager. With their diverse backgrounds spanning product management coaching, facilitation, business strategy, and product development, we're excited to collaborate with each member to deliver content that is not only relevant but also deeply insightful.

And without further ado, here they are!

Clement Kao

Clement Kao, Founder, Product Teacher

Clement Kao is Founder of Product Teacher, a product management education company that accelerates product talent through corporate training workshops, on-demand video courses, and executive coaching. Before founding Product Teacher, Clement shipped 10+ multi-million dollar products as a group product manager at multiple companies, driving successful exits worth billions of dollars in aggregate. Clement’s writing has been featured on Amplitude, Mixpanel, Gainsight, and other leading publications.

Q: How did you find yourself in your current line of work? 

A: Before I became a product manager, I was a biologist, a laboratory researcher, a student tutor, a marketer, a management consultant, a user researcher, and a data analyst. As I transitioned into each role, I didn’t really have the opportunity to learn how to code or how to design software! 

So, when I officially became an associate product manager, I floundered for months on end, especially because I couldn’t find high-quality resources. To close this gap, I sacrificed countless weekends and late nights to hone my craft, enabling me to swiftly progress from Associate PM to Product Manager to Senior PM to Group PM (all within 18 months).

While climbing the PM career ladder, I discovered that many others confronted the same hurdles I faced at the beginning of my journey. I founded Product Teacher with a firm belief in the global demand for empathetic, adept, and passionate product managers. Our mission is to empower both aspiring and experienced PMs with the tools and knowledge to excel in this pivotal role. I personally ensure that our resources are affordable, accessible, and evergreen—because that’s what would’ve helped me succeed earlier in my own product management career!

Q: What do you think is the single biggest challenge product managers have to contend with right now, and why do you feel that way?

A: As organizations increasingly recognize how central product teams are to their success, product leaders and managers are continually confronted with novel challenges that demand that they adapt and learn at an unprecedented pace. It’s no longer enough to know how to write a product spec, or know how to interview users, or know how to manage direct reports, or know how to establish a business case, or know how to refine a value proposition, or know how to analyze data.

Early in my career, I leaned heavily on asking my engineers and designers for help to navigate the complexities of product management. However, as the field matures and the stakes grow higher, specialized PM coaching is becoming the norm. As the recipient of PM coaching, and as a PM coach myself, I've seen firsthand how external coaches, focused entirely on empowering product professionals, can provide invaluable insights and perspectives. They not only offer short-term solutions but also collaboratively craft long-term strategies, processes, and cultures that shape the future of product management.

In the next 5-10 years, I anticipate that this challenge will only intensify as product managers grapple with an increasingly complex landscape. However, I also believe that embracing coaching as a strategic investment, rather than a cost, will be the key to overcoming this challenge. Companies that invest in skilled product coaches will not only retain top talent but also foster more effective product development, ultimately driving revenue and profitability. 

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Q: What’s one thing that excites you about the state of the product world today?

A: One thing that excites me about the current state of the product world is the growing recognition of the pivotal role product management plays in organizational success. In today's landscape, organizations are increasingly acknowledging that digital products are central to their growth and competitiveness. This realization has led to a positive transformation in how product teams are perceived and positioned within companies.

And, it’s been fantastic to see more and more diverse backgrounds join the ranks of product management! I’ve seen lawyers, marketers, salespeople, historians, accountants, and doctors all become successful product managers. As a general trend, more and more of the top talent within any function are starting to become product managers, and that’s absolutely wonderful.

Q: If you could eat only one meal every day for the rest of your life, what would it be, and why?

A: If I had to pick just one meal to devour every single day for the rest of my life, it would be pizza! Why, you ask? Well, picture this: Product management is a lot like crafting a pizza.

First, you've got the crust, your solid foundation—that's the strategy. It sets the stage for everything else. Next up, the sauce, the heart of it all. This is akin to user research, understanding your audience's needs, their desires, their secret pizza preferences.

Then, here comes the fun part—the toppings! Each combo of toppings is like the combination of hypotheses that we’re testing. Some days, you go for the classic pepperoni—the tried and tested table-stakes functionality that everyone loves. Other times, you throw on some pineapple (yes, I said it!), representing those bold, innovative ideas that might be a hit or a miss, but you'll never know until you try.

And of course, let's not forget the cheese—your team, the glue that holds it all together. Without them, you'd just have a hot mess. So, pizza is the perfect analogy for product management—a delightful blend of strategy, research, innovation, and teamwork, all baked to perfection.

Plus, product people are all about meetings, and we all know that meetings are a lot more fun with pizza!

Jackie Colburn

Jackie Colburn, Independent Consultant: Strategy, Design Sprints, Facilitation. Website.

Jackie Colburn has deep expertise in technology and digital product, and is passionate about helping teams design experiences that improve people’s lives. Her customized workshops provide the structure required to quickly align and accelerate a plan or idea, whether working with startups or Fortune 50 clients. Before launching her Facilitation and Strategy practice in 2017, she spent ten years in product leadership at two digital product firms, guiding groups through the development of new business ideas and bringing them to market. She’s also a speaker, coach, and co-author of the Remote Design Sprint Guide. Her work has been featured in Inc. Magazine, and recent client work includes projects with organizations such as Target, Allina Health, and Marquette University.

Q: How did you find yourself in your current line of work? 

A: I stumbled into the world of digital product by accident. I studied psychology and honestly thought I’d become a therapist. Through a temp-gig at a digital product studio, I learned that there was a world where understanding people, creativity, and innovation came together. It felt like I was coming home and quickly thrived in this work environment. I took on various roles, including ops work, project management, product strategy, team leadership until I ultimately found my specialty in facilitation.

Q: What do you think is the single biggest challenge product managers have to contend with right now, and why do you feel that way?

A: It's not easy, nor is it straightforward. The nature of your work is dynamic, constantly changing, and requires understanding everything from the complexity of new technologies to design principles, as well as the interpersonal dynamics of people.
This is not new information, but the complexity is increasing. With this increase, it can feel even more overwhelming for individuals to sustain their work and maintain their sanity. I believe that future Product Managers will need to be even more intentional about taking care of themselves to prevent burnout and maintain their interest and aliveness in their work.

Q: What’s one thing that excites you about the state of the product world today?

A: I am excited about the potential for democratization and access, allowing people to build new products through generative AI tools. Additionally, I am excited about the efficiency that can be unlocked by these tools, which can provide more time for creative work.

Q: If you could eat only one meal every day for the rest of your life, what would it be, and why?

A: You might think I'm lying, but I'd love a salad that I've made with a variety of leafy greens, some cooked kale, nuts, hummus, sliced fresh cucumbers and tomatoes, and some ferments like kimchi or cortido. I am a salad lover and love the way I feel when I eat something fresh and green, so keep 'em coming and put me on a desert island with a garden.

Phil Araujo

Phil Araujo
Phil Araujo, Freelance Growth Product Manager and Innovation Manager, Mentor & Consultant. Website.

Phil Araujo is a PM and advisor with 12+ years in product roles. He helps founders, PMs, and techies level up & build confidence, enabling them to deliver the right thing the right way at the right time. From his journey as a Product Manager to Consultant and now a Creator, he has developed effective systems and a structured approach that have been tried, tested, and trusted by over 800 students and clients.

Q: How did you find yourself in your current line of work?

A: I started with a degree in computer science but soon pivoted to business and entrepreneurship. My career kicked off in Canada as an expert consultant. I was naturally drawn in as the startup started heating up, with new ventures launching left and right. Along the way, I noticed a huge communication gap between organizations' technical and business sides. That led me to refine my role as a bridge between these two worlds, steering my career toward product management.

I've had the privilege of working in many industries—IoT, government agencies, HR tech, banking, and insurance, to name a few. Leading remote teams of 10 to 25 people has been part of my journey. These days, I wear multiple hats as a digital transformation, innovation, and product consultant, guiding companies to build and deliver the right things in the right manner at the right time.

Q: What do you think is the biggest challenge product managers have to contend with right now, and why do you feel that way?

A: One of the biggest hurdles is the nebulous understanding of the product management role. The job description can vary wildly depending on geography, industry, company size, and even the founders' perspectives. Given their divergent roles and responsibilities, two people with the same title might work in different galaxies.

As with any industry nearing maturity, we're witnessing a transformation. Traditional roles like Product Managers and Business Analysts are going through an existential crisis. There's often an overemphasis on the product or a misunderstanding of data's impact, which neglects the broader business landscape. These limitations can create significant gaps in reaching organizational objectives.

Gathering insights from my mentees and trainees, it's clear that stakeholder management remains a tough nut to crack. When you're in the thick of it, articulating your point of view can be a struggle, and you might have to pivot your roadmap based on new client needs or emerging priorities. The ghosts of tech debt and legacy systems loom, affecting our daily grind. In this role, building trust across the organization is paramount. Success demands a resilient disposition and a particular kind of character. We're shaped not just by our immediate environment but also by larger contextual forces—the organization's culture, the people we interact with, and the state of the world at large.

Q: What’s one thing that excites you about the state of the product world today?

A: What excites me about the transformation we are going through is the digital revolution of AI happening worldwide. It will give many more opportunities in many fields, such as education. There is also a need for a new type of "Leadership". A new type of leader that will hone the digital aspect of a business. 

All the new roles will serve as proactive change catalysts, bridging the gap between tech and business. I've seen this shift firsthand in my career and have worked to facilitate this transformation in others. It represents a move towards harnessing the full potential of what a Product Manager can be in this digital age.

Q: If you could eat only one meal daily for the rest of your life, what would it be, and why?

A: That's a good question. It will be great french fries with a steak. It's one of my go-to meals. And then you can't forget the nuggets.

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Curious about becoming a Board member yourself? Get in touch.

By Hannah Clark

Hannah Clark is the Editor 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.