As summer rapidly draws to a close, we’re continuing our series of candid, one-on-one interviews with product management professionals.
In the spotlight this time is Cait Porte, Director of Product Management for Blueport Commerce and the author of Product Manager In Heels. How does Cait build relationships with clients? And which ‘Game of Thrones’ character most resonates with her? Read on…
Cait, what attracted you to product management?
I’m a natural problem solver and an extremely organized person, so I was attracted to how Product Managers uncover what’s going on with the customer and then work with development to solve those problems.
How long have you been in product management?
Six years, and I’ve loved every minute of it. Currently, I’m the Director of Product Management for Blueport Commerce, an e-commerce solution for furniture companies.
Tell us what that’s like?
We work with furniture companies to bring their inventory online, so we need to understand how their brick and mortar locations work. We talk to customers over the phone, gather feedback with surveys, complete usability testing, and go on-site to understand customer behavior. Our goal is to create the first, true omnichannel experience for furniture retail.
Do your bring your clients into the development process?
Yes! We share wireframes and mock ups with them, and open user acceptance testing early. The biggest challenge is ensuring the customer understands they are working in a testing environment — and that development happens quickly and changes frequently. Staying open and honest with our clients helps us provide visibility into where we are in the development process.
How do you decide what to build?
I do an impact / ease analysis where I work with customers to understand what the impact to the user would be, then work with development to understand how easy (or difficult) it would be to build. This process gets me talking to customers and developers, and helps to establish credibility among the teams I work with. Prioritization is the most important part of the job.
What positive and/or negative trends do you see in product management?
Product management is becoming a high-profile role, which means that people want to identify frameworks and processes for how it’s done… when the basics are actually quite simple: Talk to your customers, figure out what their problems are, and work with development to fix them.
What’s the secret origin story for your blog?
My blog is called “Product Manager in Heels” and it’s been a great platform for me to voice my concerns as a Product Manager, as a woman in technology, and as someone trying to navigate their career. I focus on product management and weave career advice into it. The product management community is so supportive, and I’ve made a lot of great connections through it.
Who’s your favorite character from TV, film, or literature?
My favorite character is Daenerys Targaryen. She’s the “mother of dragons” from Game of Thrones. In a way, she faces challenges similar to the ones I go through as a young woman in technology. She’s extremely confident and shows her leadership for her people, but she occassionally struggles just like everyone else.
For more information about Cait or to connect with her, go to: