Leading Women in Product Management

Adrienne Tan

Leading Women in Product Management

Congratulations to everyone who entered Leading Women in Product Management! We start this inaugural list with 17 talented women across a range of industries and sectors.

The responses received were incredible and I was heartened to see that the talent in Product Management is outstanding in Australia and New Zealand. Women continue to drive change and challenge dysfunctional methods and staid practices. This is great news because Product Management is a key driver of innovation and fuel for our economies.

Creating this list is part of a personal journey to showcase Women in Product Management, women who work hard and make an impact without the realisation, and certainly without recognition that their effort propels organisations forward. Over the course of this process, I wanted this list to be meaningful for women on the list, women who should be proud that their achievements are being recognised by others.

Leading Women In Product Management for 2017 are:

CategoryNameJob TitleCompanyIn Her Own Words…
Community Builder
Liz Blink Digital LeadSensis“Man.... my favourite moment since founding Product Anonymous, is that look in a person's eye when they realise they have found their tribe. They realise they are not crazy for wanting things to be better or for those feelings of frustration they have had at the office, as they meet and talk with other people that have experienced the same. The real lead is when that is then paired with valuable advice to offer to help them navigate the current sticky situation they are in.

I love seeing people be proud of what they do yet remain open to learning from their peers. I'm constantly amazed by the fabulous people that work here in Melbourne and are so willing to share with each other so we can each be better.”
Product Community Builder

Amanda RalphSenior Manager, ProductFirst State Super“An active product mentor (both formally and informally) I have worked throughout my career to share and grow the product community, both within the organisations within which I have worked as well as the broader Australian and international community.

I have been a formal product mentor to emerging product leaders in Istanbul, Turkey, Sydney and France and have also mentored many young and aspiring product managers throughout my career.
In 2016 I co-founded Women in Product Australia, a place for women to openly collaborate and share their experiences as women in a professional domain still dominated by men.”
Product Leader Jennifer Flynn Vice President, Product Airtasker“In digital product management, it can be hard to remember that your customer is not just a collection of data points but a person seeking an experience. I've always focused on and challenged my team to consider their customer holistically and go above and beyond to execute the solution they need. Technical teams speak regularly to their technical debt. I think it’s important for product managers to speak up about their customer debt; Unsatisfied customers as a result of half finished features that were built because we could (e.g. the line was set up for it) not because we should.“
Product Leader Sally O’DonoghueManager, iViewABC“I took the helm at iview three years into its product life, having spent five years in the UK helping to establish the online TV services of BSkyB and Virgin Media. Since joining the ABC, Ive seen iview grow from around 3m program plays a month to more than 50m monthly plays, through great product strategy and execution, by listening and responding to our audience, and by building a multidisciplinary team of the cleverest and most passionate people.”
Product Leader Rachel MorleyExecutive Manager, Product & New Ventures - ResidentialREA“I've built and nurtured successful outcome-centric products teams in many different businesses, to help deliver a diverse range of startups, iterations on well-known brands, and new platforms/experiences for established companies.

My leadership in this space spans teams of up to 50 product and design specialists. I've traversed many businesses, domains, and types of outcomes - from several hundred million dollar product portfolios, to platforms that inspire learning or enable swifter healthcare outcomes for people worldwide.”
Product Leader Omaya RobinsonExecutive Manager, Producteftpos“My success as a product leader can be simplified as building effective cross functional teams to deliver extraordinary results. How I've been able to do this, is to use my STRONG soft skills coupled with an ability to communicate expected outcomes across the product value chain – it’s being able to convey big picture in component parts and being clear on defining what success looks like for each functional team.

My formula as a product leader is: Be Clear / Decisive + Deliver sum of the Parts + Track Successes = Building Momentum = Team Empowerment = Delivering Extraordinary Results”
Product Leader Kirsten Mann General Manager Global Design & Experience Aconex“Building product teams, who are obsessed about creating amazing experiences for people, has been my passion for the last 20 years.

During this time, I’ve crossed the spectrum of product innovator, leader and community builder. I’ve found in most of my product and digital transformation roles, I’ve had to champion and educate traditional stakeholders and get them to realise every interaction and touchpoint with an experience influences your brand perception, it is not enough to simply get customers to engage with your proposition.”
Product Leader Claire Sawyers Head of Product BlueChilli“I have introduced best practice Product Management tactics to the BlueChilli startup accelerator and portfolio of 120+ startups. As our SheStarts Founders take on the world, every day our challenges and stories are being shared with the world via our webisodes series.”
Product Leader Katherine BarrettProduct Manager carsales“I count my success as laughs had and features removed. Since embracing my minimum viable adult and decluttering obsessed statuses I have shared my love for decluttering and decommissioning products and features internationally, domestically and all through carsales.

I love leading my team, my peers and my customers through the challenges of deleting features and products. Measuring my customers speed to success and my teams bad jokes lets me know when I'm hitting my goals. Cleaning house (to be transparent) and cleaning code (to delete features) makes me really happy and I hope to keep sharing my love of these things amongst product peeps for years to come.”
Product Leader

Magda CortezSenior Product ManagerGumtree“I'm naturally curious and love solving problems by building sustainable products that resonate with customers. I enjoy decoding customer feedback, user journeys and data to understand Why?, then ask What if? and What’s next?

My recent achievements include reshaping the purchasing path on Gumtree, applying natural language processing (a form of artificial intelligence) using chatbots and maximising data for product personalisation.”
Product Leader
Danielle HarmerHead of Product, AllhomesDomain Group“I strongly believe that in Product "less is more", and that when the fundamentals of Agile and Product Management are combined with the right mindset, any product can be successful. My advice is to be ok with failure, learn from successes and failures, and strive for continuous improvement and customer satisfaction. Test, retest, and then test again as sometimes "gut feeling" isn’t always the best. I also believes that the best user experience can be achieved by combining data and user feedback and that neither should be mutually exclusive.”
Product InnovatorRakalene CondonHead of API and Partner IntegrationsCoreLogic“For me, delivering great product that meets a customer need and seeing the success in the market is the ultimate measure of what great Product Management is about. The Product that I'd like to highlight as part of this application is the CoreLogic APIs - a technical product that delivers our great data and insights to our internal and external customers, allowing flexibility in how they use and consume data.

In 2016 I achieved over 80% YOY growth in the direct revenue to the product, with a relatively fixed level of cost. Other key outcome and quality measures for a platform such as an API also increased significantly: we grew our external customer base by over 100%, our uptime and SLA performance was over 99.9%, overall traffic through the platform grew over 200% and our issue/service numbers grew in the single digits.”
Product InnovatorKate EdwardsFounder & CEOKONTENTED // SNACKABLETV“KONTENTED identified a gap in the content consumption market place, which is currently littered with either poor quality short form or UGC (we call this digital litter) targeting young people / millennials OR really expensively created long form content targeted at traditional TV or film consumption markets. There was nothing in between.
Enter SNACKABLETV an entirely subscription free OTT or streaming platform targeted at 13-30 year olds and only distributing short-form content. We focus on episodic content to ensure that the target consumer can still 'binge watch' which we know is the key consumption behaviour for young people. Four months in and we have amassed an audience of just under 3 million young people, created over 350 episodes of content in 5 countries and we're only just getting started.

We ambitiously and very publicly have announced that we plan on being the Netflix of short-form content and have designs to launch in the US in early 2018.”
Product LeaderVal BrownExecutive Manager, Consumer ExperienceREA“I currently lead a team of more than 120 people in Australia, bringing together the functions of product management, design and engineering to create intuitive and personalised experiences that help individuals make great property decisions.

I am also the executive chair for REA Group Product Council which is responsible for making investment recommendations across our whole global product portfolio. Our focus includes the optimisation of resources, budget and time to deliver on our corporate strategy. My role has been to lead the charge in forming the group, establishing the mandate and operating rhythms.
One of my recent projects was to lead a team in excess of 50 people (across product, design & engineering functions in Melbourne and Xian, China), to focus on our mobile app capability, and specifically deliver a new compelling and personalised realestate.com.au app across both iOS and android platforms.”
Product Leader

Emma StabeyHead of DigitalSeek Learning“I am now responsible for the Digital team within SEEK Learning, with my greatest achievement to date being given the opportunity to lead more than 20 talented and passionate digital specialists to build the new Seek Learning business following on from the changes in Government legislation for vocational education brokers

Every day in my career where I am working with great teams to develop delightful and useful products that provide people with the chance to fundamentally improve their working lives, is a successful day for me. Add in seeing people within my team achieve their goals and develop and it's quite difficult to ask for anything more!”
Product Leader

Laura CardinalGeneral Manager, Product DevelopmentXero“Early last year, I began sharing my personal journey with the community in a talk titled “Hello, I have Vagina”, In which I opened up about some of the challenges I’d faced throughout my life and career due to my own self-limiting beliefs and fears I’ve had of not fitting in or being different. What I learnt from doing this was priceless. Being vulnerable and sharing this part of my story seem to make it ok for others to not need to be perfect or “fit in” and I realised that we all could benefit from hearing and sharing more of these.
Getting to know, accepting and believing in myself has been the number one factor of success in my career and I’m proud to champion my own leadership style in an industry that is sometimes dominated by old school management techniques. I love helping other product leaders become the best version of themselves and champion their own style too. It’s amazing to discover what you’re capable of once you believe in yourself and allow your authentic self to be visible.”
Product Leader
Nandini TsarenkoProduct ManagerCricket Australia“Within my day to day at Cricket Australia, success in this environment is about finding the right balance between technical limitations, timelines and building the best user experience within budget. Often this requires changes in scope and starting small to deliver a true MVP. Learning through controlled experiments and finding out about our customer behaviour is the biggest win for me and allows me to provide the greatest value to my stakeholders.

Outside of digital, I am also bringing this thinking into the way we design out match experience. To increase our ticket sales we need to iterate on our events and services, reduce pain points and deliver a competitive product. “

About The Judging Process:

Like any product discovery, this process unfolded as I received feedback and learnt more. The initial intent was to have 52 leading women on the list but responses were smaller than I had expected. What was important was that the process was both fair and meaningful. I iterated along the way and today, there are 17 amazing women on the list.

People (through LinkedIn and the Brainmates blog) were asked to nominate women who had made an impact in Product Management. We had 93 nominations from Australia and New Zealand, of which 7 were ineligible to enter as they were working outside of Australia and New Zealand. To qualify to be considered as a Leading Woman in Product Management, our nominees completed a short application form. We sent out 86 application forms and received 51 responses.

As part of the application process, applicants were asked to submit their LinkedIn profile and describe their successes.

The judges were asked to independently review 51 applications and select 30 women who made an impact either as a Product Leader, Product Innovator or Product Community Builder. The women who were selected by all three of the judges made the list.

About The Judges

Like our applicants, the judges also have a diverse background.

They are:

  1. Kym Niblock, Strategic Advisor, ex CEO Spark Media and Lightbox
  2. Trent Innes, Managing Director, Xero Australia
  3. Jen Marshall, CEO, Brainmates

A common statement from the judges was that it was difficult to select 30 women. In the words of one of our judges, “Wow that was tough! SO many great, great people doing great things”.

And for those whose names are not on the list, please remember that your community thinks the world of the great work that you do. Your organisations would be worse off without your input, wisdom and effort. I can only hope that my impact in Product Management is as great as yours.

I will continue to create a new Leading Women in Product Management list each year and I hope you come along the journey with me.

Adrienne Tan

Adrienne Tan | Author

Adrienne is Co-Founder and CEO of Brainmates and Co-Founder of Leading the Product. She has been championing Product Management since 2000, earning international recognition for raising the profile of the Product Management profession. In this capacity she regularly consults to the Asia-Pacific's top businesses and speaks at business and Product events around the world.

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