ProductCamp Atlanta 2017 Open for Registration

ProductCamp Atlanta's annual UNconference

PCampATL2017.jpg

ProductCamp Atlanta will be held on Saturday, September 16 from 9:15 AM to 4:30 PM at General Assembly in Ponce City Market.
ProductCamp promises to be better than ever -- and, as always, it's still FREE to attend. 

  • When: Saturday, September 16, 2017
  • Where: General Assembly, 675 Ponce De Leon Avenue, Atlanta GA  30308
  • Time: 9:15 am to 4:30 pm 
  • Cost: FREE! (plus attendees get lunch!) 
  • Happy Hour Afterwards!

DETAILS

Why participate?
ProductCamp is the largest community-organized gathering of Product Management and Product Marketing professionals in the Atlanta area. The ProductCamp experience is unlike anything you’ve attended before with one-on-one dialog that is informative for attendees, presenters and sponsors. At ProductCamp there are no mere "attendees," since everyone participates in some manner: presenting, leading a round-table discussion, helping with logistics, securing sponsorship, setting up WIFI, or volunteering.

Come to ProductCamp and you'll walk away more educated and better connected than you can through online communities, have a chance encounter with your next great employee or employer, and share ideas with like-minded professionals in Metro Atlanta.

Who's Presenting?

You are!
Submit your session proposals here.

ProductCamp Atlanta is completely different from most conferences you’ve considered attending. Everyone participates and contributes to the success of the event, right down to creating, presenting and leading the sessions themselves!

On the morning of the event, we'll hear the session 'pitches' and then each participant will be asked to vote for 3 sessions that he or she would like to attend. The sessions with the most votes will be scheduled into rooms, and everyone will fly off to their favorite sessions!

The UNconference format is exciting and unique, and it works because of you! And if you aren't ready to lead a session yourself, you can still suggest sessions you'd like to attend!

 

Friends of ProductCamp Option

Back by popular demand for 2017! For years, participants have asked how they can personally support ProductCamp Atlanta,  beyond simply volunteering their time and talents. So, we've created the "Friends of ProductCamp!" This special membership gets you extra swag - like an awesome, exclusive Friends of ProductCamp golf shirt to wear to ProductCamp events, an invitation to the ProductCamp Atlanta VIP dinner the night before camp and a special "members only" happy hour networking event! ProductCamp is always free to attend, but if you want to show your support in a more personal way, consider joining Friends of ProductCamp!

Learn how to Pitch & Present @ProductCampATL 2017

Ever want to deliver a session at ProductCamp?

Have an idea for a conference talk but don’t know where to start?

Join us Wednesday July, 19th at Pivotal Labs where we’ll have past ProductCamp session speakers offer advice on coming up with session ideas, delivering a winning session pitch, and provide other tips to make the most of your session!

Pitch and Present at ProductCamp:
A guide to creating successful sessions

When?

7:00 PM
Wednesday July 19th

Where?

Pivotal Labs
(our gracious host and evening's sponsor)
675 Ponce De Leon Ave NE
Suite 7500
Atlanta, GA 30308

Why?

Learn from ProductCamp veterans and hear about what works, and what doesn’t...oh, and there’s free food, sponsored by our friends at Pivotal Labs

Register today as space is limited!

 

P.S. Pro Tips on Navigation to Pivotal 

1. There is a fee for Parking, and you will need your License Plate # to pre-pay at the kiosks or via the mobile app.

2.  Here is a map of Ponce City Market and directions into Pivotal Labs. For you directional folks it's located on the West side of the building.

Pivotal Labs and Ponce City Market

Save the Date for 2017 ProductCamp

This year’s Product Camp date and venue is . . . drum roll please . . . . .

September 16th at General Assembly!

You won’t want to miss this event, so post it to your calendar today.  

Last year’s attendance reached capacity, so be sure to register as soon as we announce that registration is open.  

 

P.S. Stay tuned for upcoming events on brainstorming session topics and tracks, how to pitch a session, and how to create a winning session for ProductCamp ATL.

And make sure you check us out on facebook , Twitter, and LinkedIn.

ProductCamp & Atlanta Events May 2017

LunchES- Wednesday May 17th @11:45

Count them, 4 ATL locations for the May 2017 lunch gatherings.

If you plan on attending, please RSVP at one of the locations below:

  1. Buckhead hosted by Mark Hamilton
  2. Perimeter/Dunwoody hosted by Shilan Karia
  3. Downtown hosted by Sherra Bell
  4. Alpharetta hosted by Janine Whiteman

 

Upcoming Event Shortcuts

A curated product listing for you at Meetups.  

TAG’s upcoming events here.

Product Management Bootcamp

@ General Assembly

Friday, 12 May

9 am – 4 pm EDT

Register Here

Break Into Product Management

@ General Assembly

Tuesday, 23 May

7 pm- 9 pm EDT

Register Here

ProductCamp 2017 Volunteer Call AND . . . . Happy Hour

Join us for the annual ProductCamp ATL Happy Hour and Volunteer Call.

We'll tee up the volunteer roles, network, have a few drinks and unveil the date/location for ProductCamp ATL 2017.  But not in that order ;)

WHERE & WHEN

Wednesday, April 26

7:00 PM – 9:00 PM

@Taco Mac Prado

RSVP HERE

We can’t do this without you.  

We want to make this year better than all the rest.  

If you want to volunteer with ProductCamp and haven’t been sure how to get engaged, this is the event to go to.

Meet this year’s leadership team, hear them talk about the roles that we need to fill, and align your interests with ProductCamp needs.

 

You’ll immediately benefit by...

  • The opportunity to network with some of the most  passionate product managers in the Atlanta area
  • Knowledge-sharing and learning from your peers
  • The ability to further hone your talents
  • Getting ‘in the know’ before the rest of the crowd

 

Oh BTW, Upcoming Events

Meetup's all around ATL 

Here is a product related ATL Meetup list, curated for just for you.

 

2 Must Go To Events @General Assembly

1. Product Management Bootcamp

Friday, 12 May

9 am – 4 pm EDT

Register Here

 

2. Break Into Product Management

Tuesday, 23 May

7 pm- 9 pm EDT

Register Here

 

Look forward to seeing you soon.

P.S. Don't forget to update your profile and preferences if you haven't done so recently!

P.P.S Check us out on Facebook , Twitter, LinkedIn

ProductCamp & Atlanta Events in April

Lunches: Wednesday, April 19

Events around Atlanta: Tuesday, April 18

ProductCamp ATL Happy Hour: Wednesday, April 26

Come join us Wednesday, April 26 for a ProductCamp ATL happy hour. We'll network, have a few drinks and sharing the date for ProductCamp ATL 2017.
7:00 PM – 9:00 PM
@Taco Mac Prado
RSVP HERE

My First ProductCamp

by Beth White

First, lots of Background

I have had the fortune to work with Jason Brett at Silverpop and through our transition to IBM over the last 2.5 years.  When I first started at Silverpop, I saw ProductCamp marketing paraphernalia all over the office, I finally asked someone who immediately pointed me in Jason Brett's direction.  Jason gave me the quick nonchalant rundown of how it works.  Product people get together and pitch their presentations and dot vote which ones they'd like to sit through.  A total of 20 sessions are selected for the day’s agenda.  And that was pretty much what I knew for two years.  Always eager to go,  but one or another life event was in the way of my attendance.  But, this was the year- I was going to go to ProductCamp.  So I asked Jason how can I plug in and help?

Volunteering

Just a little taste on my inbox . . .filtered on ProductCamp

Low and behold ProductCamp had been scheduled to take place in 4 weeks. Perfect timing to ask to help out, huh? I was immediately invited to a volunteer gathering and signed up for ProductCamp email promotion execution.  Exposed to all the pre-event backend work that this event takes I am completely in awe at the sophisticated organized chaos that this volunteer team does in obtaining sponsors, content for blogs and email, website updates, social media updates, session proposals requests and speaker wrangling, dinner planning, board planning, communications, and much more.  After all the hard work by the volunteer team, the well planned ProductCamp Saturday morning had arrived.  

First Impressions

At Ponce City Market, I entered General Assembly, a fun industrial space for gatherings just like ours. A dedicated registration area, main hall, breakout rooms, and lots of AV equipment.  When I entered the registration area, I was surprised to learn what little I saw behind the scenes volunteering.  I saw a swarm of 20 people setting up and getting ready for the 350 registered attendees.  The main hall in General Assembly had chairs awaiting 350 butts, and by 9 am they were filled. The entire area was a buzz, speakers registering, writing in new sessions. Introductions to new people, and getting to know the vibe of lots of Product people in one room.  We are interesting and elusive creators and it was an amazing energy I've never quite experienced.  A feeling of excitement for the future.  

The Session Pitches

Jason kicked off the morning and the session pitches began.  Speakers where like circus leaders pitching the desire for you to attend their session in 30 secs.  If you timed out you got the horn. Otherwise known as Jason Brett’s sound toy from hell.  38 sessions, 38 passionate pitches.   I also pitched my write in session.  One of three women pitching.  3 session proposals, pitched by 3 women out of 38 session proposals. (Next year ladies I challenge you to speak up and speak out.  Women represented half of the attendee’s, we should represent half of the speaker session proposals, so bring it!).  I was up against some serious speaker veterans and  I was towards the end the 35th session pitch.  I attempted a short and sweet sell on release planning with an old wedding saying anecdote. We wrapped the pitches up and then the dot vote.  All 350 people dot voted on their 3 favorite sessions.  While I barely assisted the mad dash of volunteers creating the schedule on sessions selected, Jason kept the crowd going. Sponsors spoke and in an open mike night style real jobs where being pitched by attendees.

The Kick Off

The Kick Off

The Dot Vote

The Dot Vote

Sessions Gun Shot

Then we were off!  The 2016 session schedule was posted! Fueled by Sublime donuts and Jason's deli breakfast options and a ton of coffee we all broke out. The sessions and time matrix had been posted and all divided.  BTW, My session didn't make the dot vote cut, and now I know way more for next year's session proposal!

On the fly session agenda

On the fly session agenda

 

My Schedule

My schedule ended up as a haphazard selection, rooms were packed, and lots of networking in between:

8:00

10:35 - 11:30

  • Session # 21
  • Ideate, Improvise, and Iterate
  • Presenter: Brandy Nagel
Our company name SmoothTequilla, logo for bonus points, and some brainstorming on value props.

Our company name SmoothTequilla, logo for bonus points, and some brainstorming on value props.

11: 40 - 12:20

  • Session # 12

  • Session name: The Mom Test

  • Presenter: Jeff Costa

Jeff Costa

Jeff Costa

 

LUNCH! Man that took work above, more networking over a Blue Moon pizza lunch

1:15 - 1:55

  • Session #35

  • Session name: Purple Squirrels and other Lies

  • Presenter: Steve Johnson

Steve Johnson

Steve Johnson

 

2:15 - 2:55

  • Session # 1

  • Session Name: I want to be a Product Manager!

  • Presenter: John Mansour

John Mansour

John Mansour

PHEW!

I was exhausted a saw an opportunity to exit stage left at 3:30, as I had a family prior family commitment.  I know next year, not to like my family so much ;) I highly suggest to go to all networking events before and after this event. So, I missed the finale, but I know that Steve Johnson won best session and David Eckoff won best presenter.

You'd think by the end of the event things would wind down.  Nope not for this chick.  The beat of the ProductCamp volunteer group keeps going.  Bringing this innovative group, us, together.  Lastly my parting words, IMO, this event not only accelerates your learning, empathy, increases your ability to change your life but also connects you on a whole new level in our product world.

What did you think? Was this your first year or have you been before?  What sessions did you go to and what did you think about them? What were your takeaways?

Spotlight - Tina Rusnak, Director, ADP, Agile Coach and Author talks of Common Mistakes of Product Owners in Agile

By Tiyash Bandyopadhyay

Tina Rusnak is Director, Agility Transformation at ADP, and has had a variety of roles from caterer to QA Manager to Agile Coach. She has also been part of Agility Transformations at 2 large tech players - ADP and Intuit. She is also the author of the book 31 Agile and Scrum Coach Tips available on Amazon. Read on for some lessons from the Agile Journeys of these companies along with some very fun and useful tips from Tina for Product Owners below

You have had a variety of roles in software companies – from QA to Call Center Manager to Agile Coach. Tell us a little more about your journey.

I started my career working for the Department of Veterans Affairs Regional Counsel in Brooklyn, NY. I was headed to law school until I fell in love with technology, so instead of studying law, I began teaching the lawyers about their dial-up connections., electronic law books and online billing. After 10 years, I joined a very small start-up in Kennesaw, GA, which we sold and that was really exciting. It was the first online & mobile lead tracker for car sales. I later moved into technology consulting, a stint as a personal chef and caterer, then moved into QA and now coaching. I guess I have the habit of bumping into unexpected opportunities where at the core of it all there’s a need for improvements, big change or improved efficiencies. I’ve do have some entrepreneurial blood in my veins, so whether I’m on my own as a consultant or working in corporate, I look for the projects that have a “start-up” feel and when agile showed-up, it was a perfect fit.

What sold you on Agile? What was it about the methodology that you liked most?

I fell into agile while I was QA Manager; when I learned there was a process that could save my QA team from being pummeled at the end of every project I was “all-in”. Building software that no one wants or uses, delivering tools late to the markets was not what I was about. When I understood the research on waterfall vs. agile and my own experience, there was no going back.

I learned really quickly that Agile was actually not a process and that is what I really love about Agile. It is a mindset. It is all about people, the people who build software and lead teams, the people the teams serve and really it’s about building communities that serve each other.

Scrum, Kanban XP, even waterfall – these processes are all fun to teach , coach and use, but without actually being agile these all seem to fall short. I’ve seen lots of scrum teams who were NOT very agile and lots of waterfall teams who were very agile, yep, that’s right.

Talk a little bit about your book and the experience in publishing it.

My original intent for this first agile book was to create 365 days of tips, although I’ve probably given thousands of tips, I just could not get it done, so one Saturday I just decided to go for the “MVP” and get “31 Days of Agile & Scrum Tips” out. It’s actually a journal where each day I give some insight, asks some pointed questions and give the reader an opportunity to journal their answers. It can serve as a great reference to look back for new coaches, SM’s or leaders. “Look where we are today compared to just 31 days ago!” If you’re really dedicated and focused, in 31 days you can bring some great changes to your teams and organization. I also wanted to learn the publishing process on Amazon, so I’ll be ready to get my next agile book published quickly and easily.

Tina Rusnak

You’ve worked with a lot of product managers. Tell me some things they do wrong in agile.

Product Managers and Product Owners have one of the toughest jobs when it comes to working in agile environments. Being the decision maker, the one who has to cut scope when time is up, is not a very comfortable position most product owners like to be in, after all who wants to be the one to tell clients and partners “No” or “Not now.”

For many new PO’s the reality of fixed date, fixed teams, flexible scope is a challenge. “I need it all! I’ve been asking for this item for 3 years!” In many cases I see, it can take a few releases for PO’s to understand the agile value proposition which is : “You get what your clients want now, not last year and you get to see it working and it’s ready to deploy now, not 12 months from now. It’s cool, because this is really what everyone wants – build the right product at the right time & cut the waste.

Another mistake I see many new PO’s make, especially if they are new to Product Management is that they have a hard time “owning” the product or even being fully empowered to make decisions. New PO’s will often ask, “Am I also responsible for release management, documentation and working with support?” While the answer is “yes”, PO’s need to be supported by their teams, their leaders, peers and other roles like project or program managers (if they have one). It’s not realistic to think that one person can handle the outside marketing, research, user and client meetings and work closely with the team on a daily basis; for small products or start-ups it’s possible, but medium to large scale organizations, this model falls apart.

Related to that is not making time for the team a priority. This is so critical, especially in the early stages when the team and the product owner are learning, not just about the product, its direction and what customers want & need, but also about each other.

Another common misconception new PO’s make early on is that they are not very interested in the “technology” the team uses to build the working software. I coach my PO’s that they don’t have to become tech experts, but since they are the decision makers about what gets into the team backlog, they need to be open to those conversations with development and learn what’s necessary to make smart choices. It’s like a kitchen upgrade. Sure you want that Wolf range and sub-zero fridge, but your contractor just told you your floor can’t handle the weight and you’re electrical wiring is 20 years old, you’ve got some decisions to make, best to make it as educated as possible.

What are some of the most effective agile strategies that you have seen? What are some of the most common challenges?

 The most effective strategy is to take it slow. You need executive buy-in and I don’t just mean a signed check to start coaching and setting up scrum teams, leaders truly need to understand what’s coming, it wont be easy and there will be lots of tough decisions to be made a long the way. Also, having a solid change management program in place is vital along with HR support. When you implement Agile it affects everything and everyone, from performance management to continuous integration to sales and marketing. A key challenge is to keep teams and local leaders motivated and supported; coaches can definitely help in this area, but these folks on the front lines need to see & understand the value of agile and scrum and what’s really in it for them to make the investment in change.

It’s easy and fun to go to a scrum training class, but the learning truly happens in the sprints.

 Where do you see Agile and product management going in the next few years?

 It’s definitely still evolving, especially in scaled enterprise environments. Large, legacy products need to keep-up and move quickly to stay competitive, scrum can help, but it will only take you so far. I definitely recommend performing a technology assessment before starting-up scrum teams so both leaders and product management understand  the gaps and create a strategy and budget.

Without a strong supportive infrastructure, product management may feel they’re being held hostage.

The partnership between Product management and product development is critical; both need to be focused on the same outcomes and goals, and work together through the changes agile presents to have ultimate success.  As a coach, I see this as the direction we’re headed, but there’s still a lot to learn about scaled agile environments. 

What are some of your favorite business and personal apps and tools?

Most teams and organizations I’ve coached use Rally, recently purchased by CA.  I love the iPhone app, I can check all my teams from anywhere. I also keep my Audible app full of inspiring “reads”. Some of the titles I recommend to other coaches to help keep their mindsets open to learning are “Just Listen” by Mark Goulson, “Mastery” by Robert Greene, “The Obstacle is the Way” by Ryan Holiday and just recently “The Dip”, by Seth Godin. I love this one especially because it can inspire you to help your teams work through their pain and get to the next level, but it’s ultimately up to them. I also enjoy the Feng Shui Kua Compass, it’s great to see if the energy of any physical space is setup in a positive format. If you are thinking of creating an agile workspace for teams, have a look at a few Bagua office maps, it might help and its fun! Skype, Zoom and Dropbox are lifesavers when I’m on the go. My latest favorite app is “Headspace”. In just 10 minutes you can meditate, take a break and get back to work reenergized.

You can find Tina's Book  

31 Agile and Scrum Coach Tips on Amazon and contact her on Linkedin or  Twitter

ProductCamp is all about learning from community and we are always looking for people from the Atlanta Product Management Community to feature on our blog. Let me (Tiyash) know on LinkedIn if you would like to be featured

 

Spotlight - Veteran Financial Services Product Manager Chuck Carr on the Difference between a Product Owner and Product Manager

By Tiyash Bandyopadhyay

Chuck Carr is a veteran Atlanta area technology product manager, having worked in companies such as Turner, AT&T, Fiserv, Intuit and FIS. Here Chuck shares his perspective on product management as a career, influencing others and the difference between a product owner and a product manager, based on his session on the same topic at ProductCamp with co-presenter Mark Knapp.

Why did you choose to speak about the difference between a product owner and a product manager at ProductCamp?

Four years ago a speaker at Product Camp introduced me to the Agile software development methodology and the Product Owner job title. At the time I didn’t understand the distinction between Product Owner and Product Manager. Leading a team of Product Managers and Product Owners and after experimenting with different staffing configurations, we realized that the product manager and product owner were each substantial and distinct roles – and best served by 2 people. I met my co-presenter Mark Knapp at ProductCamp and realized we had a meeting of minds on the topic and thought it would be useful to share.

The Product Manager is responsible for the business case, the product roadmap and high level business and product requirements.  He or she also owns many customer-facing and sales channel responsibilities and ensures that what is delivered to market is what the market will support and purchase. The Product Owner is embedded with the development team and drives the tactical execution of the product plan and the delivery of a high quality product on time. He or she is responsible for requirements at a Product Backlog Unit (PBI) level. In Agile, the PBI or product backlog item is a unit of work small enough to be completed by a team in one sprint.

Considering all of the end-to-end tasks required in each of the roles, we concluded that people just can’t be in 2 places at once -  In Agile, the PO is embedded with the development team and must be accessible practically all day, every day. If the PM is out representing the company at a tradeshow or visiting a client, he or she just inherently can’t be always accessible to the development team.

One of the goals of Agile was to bring this market and customer facing person into the development process. If they are 2 different people, doesn't it defeat the purpose? How does the product owner make sure he is in sync with the market?

That's a good question.  I always encourage overlap. I’d never want the PO to be so disconnected from the market that he or she loses touch with the customer. Nor can the PM be so disengaged from execution that the vision or timeline becomes impractical. About 10-15% of the time, the PO should be external facing and vice versa for the PM.

Chuck Carr

You are a career product manager. How have you seen product management change and not change over the years?

My first PM role was with Bellsouth/AT&T. It was a highly matrixed company. I learned there that leveraging the expertise of others was a requirement for success. Also I had a boss at that time who established a culture that the Product Manager was the CEO of his or her product and is accountable for revenue and profitability. For me, those haven’t changed.

What has changed is that conditions are more fluid – the pace of change has accelerated. Responding to change has required us to become more flexible and literally take a more ‘agile’ approach.

You took a chance and worked with Atlanta startup Vitrue for a while…

Yes, and what a growth experience! Vitrue, which since has been acquired by Oracle, was the leading provider of social media publishing software. There I learned how businesses harness the marketing potential of social media to build and manage their brands and how to measure and maximize interactions across Facebook and Twitter. I was able to bring some of that Vitrue experience to Financial Services although I think the industry is still figuring out how to fully realize the potential of social.

Payments is such a hot field – exploding in mobile and online. What are some of the things people are missing, that you know as an insider?

You’re right; it’s an exciting time. We see consumer needs and preferences evolving very quickly along with rapid advances in technology. We talk a lot about incumbents and new market entrants and prospective disruptors – how Apple and Facebook and PayPal and Square may disrupt the relationship between consumers and their current banks, credit unions and brokerages. Ongoing change and disruption are likely inevitable, but definitely financial institutions are innovating and working hard to stay relevant in this digital age and to stay connected with their customers.

What advice do you have to someone looking at Product Management as a career option?

Personally, I continue to love the challenge of product management. There are definite career progression opportunities, extending to senior leadership roles.  As a PM your scope spans the strategic and the tactical; you touch everything from business plan to product ideation to product development to marketing to sales. You do get to be CEO of your product, although the need to develop collaboration and communication skills is paramount.

One of the key skills for product managers is influence. What are your tips in developing influence?

I have seen different styles. I subscribe to a collaborative style and like to engage a broad set of stakeholders early, soliciting inputs about the opportunity and constraints at hand. I’d suggest building consensus and support for your initiatives along the way.  Also, stay nimble – allow yourself and your plan to be influenced by new information and the inputs and good council of others.

What are some of the software tools or Apps that you use regularly for work and would recommend?

Axure Interactive Wireframe Software, Loop 11 Online User Testing Tool.

Get in touch with Chuck at @Chuckatlanta on Twitter and on LinkedIn

ProductCamp is all about learning from the product management community and we are always looking for people from the Atlanta product management community to feature on our blog. To be featured on the ProductCamp blog contact me (Tiyash) on Linkedin. 

 

Day of info and parking for ProductCamp 2015!

DETAILS

IMPORTANT PARKING INFORMATION

Since General Assembly is located at Ponce City Market, parking is not free and can be limited. We know, we know. But you're getting awesome content, networking, coffee, breakfast and lunch for free!

General Assembly has suggeststed these options:

  • GA Under Ground Parking indicated in the image below
  • You can park on the street along Glen Iris or North Avenue
  • You can park across the street at Whole Foods (We cannot guarantee that your car will not be towed)
  • Marta from the North Avenue Station
  • If you choose to park around Ponce City Market, you will have to prepay for parking at a kiosk within the lots or inside. You'll need to know your license plate to prepay with their system (We know...We know...it's weird.)

You can find more information about parking here


Spotlight - Michael Ordan Talks About Working at CareerBuilder

By Tiyash Bandyopadhyay

Michael Ordan from Career Builder talks about working with remote teams, getting user feedback and remembering while doing so that ' You are not the user'. 

Tell about your current role at CareerBuilder? (What does a typical day look like or what kind of products you manage)

I started working with an international team when I first joined the company in March. The team was spread between Munich, Paris, London, and I was in Atlanta. I was working on a new standalone product called Coach by CareerBuilder, which was designed to help provide career insights and value to people not just actively looking for a job. I was the only member of the team in the US so I was constantly interviewing users and incorporating the voice of the user into the team’s product decisions. Recently, I was given a new challenge of leading discovery for the consumer side of CareerBuilder. I am working on tackling new problems jobseekers may have and am actively looking to push the needle forward for CareerBuilder while keeping a pulse on the market. 

How did you get started in Product Management?

My first job out of college was as a technical recruiter in Manhattan. I was always talking to developers, designers, and product managers and became very interested in how product development came together. After learning more about product management by speaking to experienced product managers in New York City I decided I wanted to pursue it as a career path. Shortly after I made this decision, General Assembly announced their first full time Product Management Immersive program and it was a no-brainer for me to apply.

Tell us a little about your time at General Assembly. Why did you decide to attend and how did it help you?

I decided to attend because I spoke to a lot of developers and designers that graduated from General Assembly while recruiting and heard incredible things about GA. It also definitely didn’t hurt to see these new developers and designers secure fantastic new jobs upon graduating as well.

 

My time at General Assembly was nothing short of spectacular. The classroom environment led by two product managers from Google and Microsoft made it very easy for me to be inspired. My classmates and I also became such a tight knit family. We were 20 highly intelligent product managers that always set out to push each other to improve and learn more.

This experience, combined with collaborative projects with the UX Design students and Web Development students, proved to be a very valuable learning experience. In addition to the countless collaboration opportunities we had, we also were all assigned a startup to work for as a product manager for the final 3 weeks. This got us a taste of what it is like to really work as a product manager for an actual company and was great to speak to in the countless interviews I would eventually go on after graduating.

So when you moved to actually implementing some of the ideas that you learnt, what did you find most surprising– what struck you most?

One of the most surprising things to me was definitely how much product knowledge I was able to share with my teammates and other coworkers while not having a ton of experience. Many people fall into product management from a different role and never had the luxury of learning from two top product managers / directors from companies like Google and Microsoft.  I was surprised at how prepared I really was to be a product manager in a company as exciting and well known as CareerBuilder.

You talk about being the only member of your product team in the US.  What are you learning as some of the best practices of working with remote teams?

Working with remote teams can be very challenging. It is crucial to be able to actually form a real relationship with your teammates. When your team is not in the same building as you it makes it a lot more difficult. The most important piece of advice I could ever give to a remote product manager is simple. Meet your teammates as quickly as you can and get overseas for a week or two. I always spoke to them via Slack and Google Hangouts but it didn’t compare to actually meeting them in Munich and London. As a product manager relationship building is paramount. After my team was able to actually have a beer with me and talk about everything but CareerBuilder, we became much closer. Those decisions you need to help influence quickly become a lot easier to influence if they genuinely like you.

What are some of the challenges you see in product management?

One of the biggest challenges in product management is definitely the stakeholder management part of it. It’s like trying to build a house when 10 other people are telling you what they want the house to look like from 10 completely different points of view. Being able to empathize with each of them and constantly reflecting your messaging to each stakeholder with their point of view in mind is one of the toughest parts of product management. I learned this very quickly while working here at CareerBuilder and this is an incredible skill to have.

How do you then incorporate the voice of the customer into the product process?

Always talk to your users or customers. I am always interviewing users or specific types of jobseekers to make sure we design for them in mind. Interviewing users, surveying users, conducting usability tests, and creating personas to always point back to when product decisions or feature prioritization comes up is how you make sure the voice of the customer is heard throughout the product process. The last nugget of wisdom to remember during this process is one I’ll never forget. You are not your user.

Get in touch with Michael on Linkedin

ProductCamp is all about learning from the product management community and we are always looking for people from the Atlanta product management community to feature on our blog. To be featured on the ProductCamp blog contact me (Tiyash) on Linkedin. 

Introducing General Assembly

Hey folks,

I wanted to take a moment to introduce you to one of ProductCamp Atlanta's newest sponsors, General Assembly.

General Assembly has been present in the Atlanta community for just over a year now and their impact can be felt all over Georgia, just as it can be felt in the other cities GA calls home. I hope you'll take a moment to check them out and welcome the entire GA team to Atlanta!

To introduce them, GA has put together a little FAQ and I thought it made sense for us to post it here. Note that ProductCamp Atlanta does not endorse any educator or company, but we do want to highlight our amazing sponsors and keep our Product Management community up to date with all of the great education options right here in Atlanta.

-Jason

Q: What is General Assembly (GA)?

General Assembly's mission is to empower people to pursue the work they love by transforming thinkers into creators. With 14 locations around the world, GA creates educational experiences in the areas of tech, business and design. Atlanta is the latest campus to launch in our expansive global portfolio and we offer a host of engaging courses year-round within the ever-expanding Ponce City Market Development. 

 

Q: Why is this course relevant today?

These days, everyone seems to have an idea that may be “the next big thing,” but very few people actually have the knowledge or skill to bring a product to life.Product management lies at the intersection between business, design, and technology, allowing you to gauge whether a product is viable from a business perspective, desired by your customers, and technically feasible. Whether they’re developing their own product or working within a larger organization, Product Managers work with key stakeholders, designers, and developers to ensure that the final product meets both customer and business objectives.

 

Q: When is the next course and who is the Instructor?

Our next Product Management course begins June 23rd and will be led by Mussadeq "MK" Khan. MK is a tech entrepreneur and a product guy. He has takenproducts from just an idea to full blown revenue generating businesses. MK has started 2 software companies and at the moment is on his 3rd one, each in a different vertical. His latest startup Ritzy is in the restaurant space where they help people who love to eat at great restaurants, find tables at peak hours without the wait. MK has spent the past 18 years managing, developing and marketing software products for large enterprises as well as startups. He founded Prominus in 2002 to help small hospitals manage their receivables. In 2008, MK founded Verdeeco, a cloud based analytics solution that electric utilities used to manage and analyze data to gain operational efficiencies.  Verdeeco was acquired last year by Sensus, a smart energy company in Raleigh, NC. MK also advises entrepreneurs and mentors startups. He is also a mentor and charter member for TIE

 

Q: Who will I be sitting next to in this course?

Product management students tend to come from various backgrounds: entrepreneurs, project managers, designers, and developers. These students are often looking to apply product management skills to their current jobs or to switch careers into the product world.

 

Q: What practical skill sets can I expect to have upon completion of the course?
By the end of the course, you will be able to:

  • Clearly describe the role of a product manager
  • Effectively determine key risks and assumptions of a given product in order to test them
  • Identify different business models in order to determine which one is more effective for a given product
  • Create wireframes, MVPs, and basic prototypes in order to test assumptions
  • Utilize usability tests and other user research tactics
  • Speak fluently with developers in regards to technology and technical constraints
  • Measure a product’s success and track its lifecycle

Want to learn more? Reach out to the Team here: atlanta_admissions@generalassemb.ly