Today, we have another great conversation in our continuing series of one-on-one interviews with product management professionals.
This time, we’re talking with Kellie Jones, Product Manager at Ultimate Software. A self-described extroverted introvert, Kellie enjoys talking strategically with customers, building business cases, and working with developers to transform ideas into reality.
What’s the most valuable lesson Kellie learned as a PM? And if she wasn’t a PM, what would she be doing with her life? Read on…
Kellie, how did you become a Product Manager?
I took a “temporary position” as a call center rep for an accounting software company and worked my way up from Support to Quality Assurance to Product Management. I was a domain expert, but never intended to become a Product Manager.
You didn’t intend to become a PM?
I thought Product Managers needed to be outgoing, and I’m more an extroverted introvert. But I loved solving customer problems and a director of product management said I’d make a great PM. She said driving the process would be a lot of fun, and she was right!
What do you like most about being a PM?
I love that it stretches all aspects of my brain. I get to talk with customers about how we can make their jobs easier and add more value to their organizations, then talk geek with the development team on how to solve for these needs.
What do you like least about being a PM?
Managing the fire drills that come with any technology solution. These tend to distract from spending time on the right things and make days a little insane.
What’s the single biggest mistake you’ve made as a PM — and what did you learn from it?
My initial tactic as a new PM could be described as, “I am Product Manager; hear me roar!”
And that went over really well, right?
It was a disaster! I learned that selling the vision of what you’re trying to accomplish — and why it’s important — is critical. Everyone wants to understand the value of what they’re working on and have the opportunity to buy into it.
How do you see product management evolving?
Over the past couple of years, product camps have flourished and it seems like this momentum will lead to a more widely accepted definition of product management. Today, the responsibilities of a Product Manager seem to vary from company to company. By developing more widely accepted standards we should see more consistency and better results.
If you didn’t have to worry about making a living, what would you like to do for the rest of your life?
I would most likely be a Math teacher (more problem solving). That would allow me to work hard and be challenged for the majority of the year and free up my summers to visit all the MLB parks and attend product camps throughout the country.
Thanks, Kellie! If you want to connect with Kellie, please follow her on Twitter @kelliej.