1. What’s your academic background/training?
My education is in Computer Science, and I also did the Stanford Executive Business program. But my real education came from having the opportunity to work for and with from some of the best product minds in our industry.
2. What did you do before you where a product manager?
I was a software engineer at HP Labs.
3. Where did you work before you set up Silicon Valley Product Group?
I was previously SVP Product Management and Design for eBay.
4. What inspired you to become a product manager?
I learned the hard way that it doesn’t matter how great your engineering team is if the product manager doesn’t give them something useful to build.
5. How did you make the move from being a developer to becoming a Product Manager.
I found someone that I thought did this job really well, and he pointed me in the right direction.
6. What do you like best about the Product Management job?
Creating products and services that are used and loved by millions of users and customers.
7. What do you least like about the Product Management job?
So many people out there have no idea what product management really is. They think it’s marketing. Little wonder the vast majority of products and services are such dismal failures.
If you love technology like I do you can’t help but want to follow developments closely. Also, many of my friends and colleagues are leading engineers and architects and I constantly learn from them.
9. Describe the Product Managers job in one sentence.
This is the person responsible for discovering and defining a product that is useful, usable and feasible.
10. What’s your dream product to manage?
Been there and done that (and extremely grateful for it). Now I love to help others create their dream products.
13. What would be the top three attributes you need to do the Product Management job?
#1. Willingness and ability to engage deeply with engineers on technology – to understand what’s just now possible.
#2. Willingness and empathy to engage deeply and directly with end users and customers to understand their needs. Especially to try out your ideas on them and not let your ego get in the way of learning, adjusting and identifying the right product.
#3. Willingness to do whatever it takes to get that product shipped.14. Product Managers come from different backgrounds: what advice would you give someone who wanted to break into Product Management who had an engineering background. How would that advice differ if they did not have a strong technical background?
(That’s a great question and one that I want to think more about and then probably write an article on for my newsletter, as many software developers talk to me about switching to product management. For the second part of that question, for people that aren’t technical, I happened to write about that in my last newsletter: http://www.svpg.com/blog/files/are-you-tech-enough.html)
15. Looking back, as a former Product Manager, what’s the one product (or product range) that has brought you the most satisfaction?
My favorite job ever was at Netscape as the Internet was just emerging. New technologies were being invented almost constantly, combined with daily interactions with developers and customers from startups and established companies all racing to learn how they could use the Internet to help solve long-standing problems. A great time to be a product manager.