It’s no coincidence that I am where I am today.
I look back on my interests and career, and reflect on my personality and it’s pretty cool that product leadership is growing into such an influential force for so many successful businesses.
It’s the perfect match.
My career started in technology as a software developer. It felt too good to be true. I’d scored a job that paid me to do my hobby, I loved it. I honed my craft, learnt from some amazing colleagues and a worldwide community of people inspired to share what they knew. I spoke at tech conferences, wrote a tech blog, even became a Microsoft MVP. I gained a deep appreciation of the realities of turning ideas into software that not only worked but kept working. I experienced the attractions and dangers of developer idealism. I learnt how to measure the length of a piece of string!
But I also learnt I was interested in more. I cared just as much for the people I worked with and the customers we were building solutions for as I did for software we were building. I discovered the human element of software creation and design, that being a good listener, empathetic, pragmatic, resilient and articulate were as critical to the success of a product as the code itself. I learnt that people asked us for outputs - features, documents, releases - but ultimately we were always measured on outcomes - customer feedback, revenue, acquisition, churn. I learnt that knowing this didn’t stop people from continuing to ask for outputs.
By 2009 I was working for Xero as their first Product Manager. Until this time, I was mostly involved in bespoke, one-off solutions, constrained in all directions by scope, budget and time. Working for a true digital B2C product company was incredibly liberating and while I soon found out that many realities remained the same, I also gained new skills and insights; prioritising the incomparable, how to say no without saying no, working with key stakeholders, failing fast but safe, scaling product leadership from just me to 100s of leaders across multiple offices worldwide. Quite the ride.
As my product career grew it became clear that while this role was well recognised in the US and Europe, it was only just getting off the ground in New Zealand. There was an increasing awareness amongst business leaders of the terms Product Manager or Product Owner, but very low understanding of the roles themselves, what they actually did or how to find them. At the same time, the number of people interested in pursuing a career in product leadership was growing. In 2015, I started the first New Zealand ProductTank Meetup and we now have over 1000 members interested to share our learnings, grow the community and become more effective product leaders.
Which leads us to today.
The opportunity ahead of us, and what drives me, is to learn from what’s happening around the world, to understand the impact specialised product leaders can have on business success, to support them to be the best they can be with a thriving community of peers and to encourage a diverse range of leaders to embark on product careers that matter.
So that’s what I’m all about and I’d love to work with you to help you and New Zealand grow together.