On April 14, 2020 an online conference "Product Management Day" was held at GSOM SPbU. Product managers of large companies spoke about the specifics of their profession, the skills of a successful product manager and what had changed in their work and in companies in connection with the pandemic. The discussion was moderated by Margarita Gladkova, Academic Director of the Master Program “Business Analytics and Big Data” at GSOM SPbU.
At the beginning of the meeting, the participants tried to determine the difference between the product manager and the project manager, explaining that the project manager is responsible for the project and team work, which have a goal and a final result, while the product manager deals with the product specifically and systematically. He thinks about what the product should be like, and whether he will be satisfied. “In our company, the project manager monitors how the product is created and how to make this process more efficient. The product manager solves the issue of bringing the product to the market. He is interested in how the product will look, how to sell it. He is responsible for ensuring that the end user learns about the product, becomes interested in it and starts using it,” Tatyana Vasilyeva, Product Manager at JetBrains, said.
For a product to be successful in the market and outperform competitors, a product manager must be able to analyze data, conduct market research and a / b testing, and work in a team along with designers and developers. “The main task for the product manager is product research, which is closely related to planning and goal-setting in the company. Each goal can be reached in a variety of ways, and so the first thing I do, together with the analyst and designer, is researching and figuring out what problems users have and how we can solve them. The task of the product manager is to ask himself questions: am I doing it right, am I solving the necessary tasks? And at the intermediate stages, to communicate with the consumer, and never forget who the company is creating the product for,” Julia Troislit, GSOM, MiM 2016 / CEMS program alumnus, Product Manager of Avito Delivery, shared her thoughts.
User requests in a pandemic situation are changing rapidly, it is quite difficult to predict and analyze the vector of its changing. “People live in the moment and do not plan anything for a long time ahead. The main task for product managers in a crisis situation is not to get confused and quickly reorient, while maintaining stress resistance,” Anna Vasilyeva, an alumnus of MITIM 2014, Joom's product manager, said.
The current market situation affects the activities of companies and product managers in particular. Some companies adapt to a new format more quickly than others. In Avito, according to Julia Troislit, the quality of work and the team’s involvement have not changed after transferring all business processes online. Anna Vasilyeva said that Joom has many branches around the world, so the habit of interacting online has developed over a long period and the transition to online therefore did not cause much difficulty.
The travel industry has suffered from the crisis more than others. Tatyana Tretyak, GSOM Bachelor program alumnus of 2013 and Booking.com product manager, said that the work of the product manager in the company has changed greatly in connection with the situation. In recent weeks and for some time in the future, customers will come to the site of the world's largest hotel aggregator in order to cancel their reservations. The task of the product manager in this situation and for the near future is no longer booking, but to ensure that cancellation of purchases and refunds go as comfortably as possible so that it does not affect customer loyalty. At Avito, where users are used to meeting with each other in person, the main task of the product manager is to adapt Avito's delivery to the current situation, and tell more users about how to use it and why it is convenient and safe.
Successful product managers do not always start their career in product management. Many people come to work with a product from analytics, development or design departments of the company. For employment in product management, it is important for any specialist to understand the specifics of the company and the industry as a whole, but most of all the employer will be interested in the candidate’s analytical abilities, his or her ability to interpret data and make decisions based on it. This is exactly what GSOM teaches in its “Business Analytics and Big Data” Master program. “Candidates for a product manager’s position need to show that they can conduct research and look for solutions to a problem. In my opinion, GSOM alumni have the necessary skills, the main thing is to use them wisely,” Maria Misyuk, MITIM 2014, Wrike Product Manager, said.