Product Management: Communication,Bravery, and LeadershiP | Ep.192

Aleksandra Bass joins Sima on the podcast today. She is the Vice-president of Product Management at Momentive (makers of Survey Monkey).

Aleks has had an exciting career! In today’s episode, she talks to Sima about her career journey, what she does at Momentive and various aspects of product management.

How Aleks got to where she is in her career

It took a bit of luck, some passion, and a lot of hard work for Aleks to get to where she is today in her career. She was passionate about how people think and make decisions, so she studied psychology. When she realized that applied psychology was not the right fit for her personality, she sought business applications for it, and market research was an area where she could use her psychology background to help business answer some core questions.

Making changes

Aleks worked for a research agency in Los Angeles and loved it. Unfortunately, she saw very little getting done with the data, and it frustrated her. So she switched from research execution on the agency side to becoming part of an in-house research team for an organization. Then, she transitioned again and went into a product marketing role while still doing her research role.

Technology

Then technologies started surfacing that allowed people to program their surveys without having to know how to code. So, Aleks brought some of those into a few organizations and began to do the in-house research herself. In doing that, she forged a relationship with Qualtrics. So she stepped fully into a product management and product marketing role.

What Aleks does day-to-day at Momentive

Aleks has one-on-ones with her team to stay in the loop, understand their frustrations and pain points, and help them. She has regular check-ins with her cross-functional partners and ensures that there is alignment with product marketing. She also makes sure that her team is paying attention to the metrics and the broader strategy, certain initiatives get resourced correctly, and everything makes sense and matches with the structure on which the organization has decided.

The top three metrics for a product management group

From Aleks’s perspective, the top three metrics that the product organization needs to impact through its work in partnership with design and engineering are:

  1. Acquisition
  2. Retention
  3. Expansion

The right skills and personality types for product management

Aleks believes that the number one skill and personality type that makes or breaks the effectiveness of product managers is their ability to communicate and collaborate without ego. To have the right kind of impact, they need an understanding and respect for the cross-functional partners they work with. Being brave enough not to react to the negativity they encounter and still share and get feedback on their ideas and thought processes is another helpful attribute for product managers.

Introversion versus extroversion for product managers 

Aleks has noticed that there seems to be a bias toward extroversion for those in the product manager role. She feels that her team is pretty balanced between introversion and extroversion. She would encourage more introverts to consider product management because they tend to listen more and have equally effective results.

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