Senior Product Manager
The cool thing about product management is the great opportunity for career changers like me.
Working at Project A may have been destiny. When I was a high school student in the small city of Biberach an der Riß, I worked with Uwe Horstmann, one of the founders of Project A, for my school newspaper “Die Funzel”. Later, I majored in Philosophy & Economics at the Universities of Bayreuth and Bologna, graduating with a Ph.D. at the University of Bremen. However, my tech affinity led me away from an academic career in philosophy and widened my perspective on possible jobs. I first worked for a small consulting company and then later gained essential start-up experience as a product manager for Home24 and Zalando. Knowing Uwe and some other people there, I heard that Project A was founded.
In April 2012, I just wanted to stop by to say hello and get an impression of their workspace – but this quickly turned into a job interview.
I would say, it was a perfect fit from the beginning, and I was offered a job immediately after my visit - which included 3 rounds of interviews. That is how I started as a product manager for Project A. My main task is to interconnect all necessary steps and parties during the product development process, overseeing that process from the first idea to its final realization. Depending on the project, the tasks of my daily work vary a lot. One crucial point is collecting and systematizing ideas from the whole team and “translating” them into tasks for programmers and technicians. This includes coordinating and structuring the workflow. On the technical side, website structures, database models, or the specification of interfaces are important issues. From a creative point of view, I have to take into account the website’s appearance and user experience. Other fields such as Performance Marketing and Business Intelligence need to be considered as feedback channels when the product is finally “live” and the first customers are using it.
A good coordination of all teams and the provision of all necessary information are two general requirements to be successful in product development.
Of course, teamwork is an essential factor here.
Besides coordinating all the teams and team members, I work hard to create products that customers love. How do I do this? We use a very lean process here: In its initial state, a website is limited to its most important and value-creating features. These key features need to be perfectly executed and carefully thought through to ensure a great user experience. At later stages, additional features can be implemented to extend the functionality of the website. I am constantly exchanging with other Project A experts to find out which features of a product will be likely to pay off, while also talking to the venture’s founders, making sure that their interests are fully covered. When the first customers appear, it is of course most important to talk to them! Despite all this multitasking, it is important to stay focused even during stressful periods.
I am surrounded by dedicated and intelligent people and I especially enjoy the cooperative atmosphere.
Because I change projects every half a year or so, my job continues to challenge me. What I like about product management is the great opportunity that it offers for career changers like me. However, you will definitely need a strong sense of communication and organization as well as an open mind in order to quickly grasp new concepts and developments, especially in terms of technology and design.
Simon's Blog Posts
Take a look at Simon's posts on our Techblog:
Don't Be Fooled by Your Testing Tool - Take a Second Look!
Fixing our Design Process