I was thrilled to meet Jenny at the PMEC conference in San Jose. She is a Product Manager with a twist – she now runs her own business named the Marketeers Club that offers free online tools and resources for all aspects of marketing, including product management and product development. We spend 5 minutes with Jenny for her insight about Product Management and transitioning from a Product Manager to a true Product Owner.
What product management roles did you hold before you started your own business?
I was a senior product manager when I left corporate America to start my own venture. I followed the traditional path, starting out as an assistant product manager right out of business school after my MBA and moved up over time.
Can you describe your roles and responsibilities as a product manager in the FMCG industry?
I’ve worked in consumer product companies of all sizes. In large companies, my roles and responsibilities were more finite – P&L management, strategic planning, product/project management, packaging direction, pricing, research, etc. In mid to small companies, I got to wear more hats. So in addition to the traditional marketing responsibilities, I also got involved in customer meetings, ideation, product development, consumer research, sourcing, crises management, operations, etc.
What challenges did you face in your previous roles as a product manager?
I think one of the daily challenges, regardless of company size, is to constantly lead and influence the team and drive them toward our business goals. The other challenge is to balance my time between putting out fires, executing against plan and coming up with strategic initiatives. It’s easy to allow all the “busy” work to flood the work day, so delegating is important, and many times, I like to do my thinking/planning either early morning or after 5:00pm.
How has your experience as a product manager helped you in your own business?
I really believe my last 10 years in product management has prepared me for entrepreneurship. There’s a lot of similarity between product management and entrepreneurship. In PM, you own the product/product category from beginning to end – from ideation to launch to management. As an entrepreneur, the process is similar – ideation/planning to execution to day-to-day management. The only difference is that your entrepreneurial resources are much more limited, but the skill sets are very much the same. A couple of elements unique to new ventures are more creative use of resources and quicker time to market. Wow, what a novel thought – could this mentality work in a corporation – you bet – if you dare to knock down some walls.
In your opinion, what quality makes a great product manager?
Passion: You must love what you do and the product/product category you manage. You must feel like you own all aspects of the business.
Resourcefulness: This is especially relevant in tougher times. How can you make the most out of your budget? This is where the entrepreneurial mindset and bootstrapping techniques come handy. Large budgets sometimes lead to stale thinking and needless waste.
Lead, influence and motivate: Everyone is busy. As corporations cut back, those who remain in the company find themselves taking up additional workloads. As a product manager, our job is to get people excited about what they are doing and their contribution to the bottom line. Take the time to acknowledge good work. Appreciation is a powerful motivator.
Jenny thanks for sharing your professional experience and how they have translated into managing your own business. We can see your passion, resourcefulness, and influence in helping product and marketing professionals improve and become more efficient by the tools and templates you provide in the Marketeers Club.