You don’t have to be a recent graduate or aspiring Product Manager to get certified. Many find that they’ve stumbled upon product management later in their careers, and get certified as a way of consolidating their knowledge.
Eduardo Seminari is the founder and CEO of PEEXELL, a digital solutions agency in Brazil which provides ecommerce customers with apps, websites, and virtual stores. He has previous co-founded several companies, worked as a UI designer for Sony Ericsson, an Information Architect for Ci&T, and a Business Development and Marketing Manager for Clickon.
Rather than go from Product Manager to CEO, Eduardo took our Product Management Certification after he founded his company. In this alumni story, we got to sit down and chat with him about the importance of adapting to change, the product scene in Brazil, the importance of good UI, and his experience getting certified as a Product Leader.
Learning to Adapt to Change
Having worked across many aspects of business, including UI design and marketing management, his career has taken many different forms.
When I started as a designer, I started before internet. So it was a long time ago here in Brazil…branding, logos, paper materials, you know, flyers, et cetera, folders, magazines. And then I realized with the internet that I had to change to multimedia, to websites and then mobile. So what I realized was that…I had to keep improving. Searching for new ways of delivering ideas. Ideas were the central part of it, but I think that change and looking for what was happening was the most important thing I learned. So for me to adapt or to change, it was pretty easy.
[My business partner at the time] stayed offline. We worked together for six years and then I said ‘you know what, I’m going to change.’ But he didn’t want to. He said ‘let’s stay like that. It’s fine, we’re making money.’ But I said that I think it’s better to change.
It’s human nature as well, adapting to change. We’re not still in the caves.
You need to focus on what you’re doing, but also keep looking ahead. That’s the advice I give to everyone. Because you never know what’s going to happen in the future.
That attitude of ‘adapt or change’ is what served him well when the 2020 pandemic hit, and affected businesses and lives across the world.
Nowadays that’s what’s happening. That’s what’s happening right now with this pandemic. We all have…to be flexible enough to change. So I sought that, and I needed to have the tools to do that. So I started learning more about development to increase my experience.
At the beginning I was part entrepreneur, but then I jumped to the market as well. I started to work for Sony Ericsson and other technology companies here in Brazil. Then I also started studying marketing because I wanted to get more of a strategic feeling.
Like many modern professionals, rather than aim for a Product Manager position, Eduardo found that that’s exactly what he had already been doing.
I had to deal a lot with clients, customers, B2B and B2C, but what I wanted was like have more strategy to what I was doing. And then when I came back to being an entrepreneur and I started my own business, one of the things that I realized was that I had shifted to a product management position. Because I was dealing with the commercial part, I was dealing with bringing ideas to the client, designing the solution, preparing the whole flow for development and driving the development team…delivering …doing all these steps.
And then when I saw the Product Management course from Product School, I said, ‘Oh my gosh, that’s pretty good.’ Because I was doing that already. But I wanted to be sure of what I was doing.
The Product Scene in Brazil
Brazil has a booming tech and product scene, but basing a company there is not without its own unique challenges, as Eduardo knows very well. The challenges he faced in serving an emerging market would go on to shape his ethos as both a business owner and as a product professional.
Although Brazil is a huge country, it’s still a third world economy. We have quite a large (wealth) gap and a lot of poor people. And most of the products being designed here in Brazil are focused on that. Because there are a lot of people that…I wouldn’t say “need help”, but it’s an emerging country.
So people are trying to break the gap to at least to have like a medium status. I wouldn’t say that there is misery. I wouldn’t say that because I saw misery in India. I went to India, stayed three months, so I saw what misery is. But we have very poor people here in Brazil and people living in low conditions. So people try to create products that are focused more on these people.
At the same time, we have people that are not targeting only Brazil, but that are targeting the whole world. So there are some products that people create here that are breaking the barriers. We’re not focusing only on the local anymore. We are dreaming. I think everyone is dreaming. So just like John Lennon used to say.
The Importance of Good UI/UX, and Why Product Managers Should Care
According to Eduardo, UI/UX are not just add-ons for a product. They’re critical elements that needs care, research, and a Product Manager’s full attention
UI is not only a status. When we say UI and UX today, for me since the beginning, it was all together. And even the development, if you think about it, all of the the environment, right? The platforms that we create, everything that we do.
I’m reminded of Steve Jobs, who was a great Product Manager. He gave that great speech at Stanford about ‘connect the dots.’ And that’s what he did his entire life, connected the dots. I mean…Jobs without Wozniak is nothing!
But he was the one driving the experience, so a Product Manager is the one that connects those dots, that builds that idea, and that involves everyone to make that idea happen. So UI, of course, it’s a huge part of it. What would the iPhone or iPod be without the Apple store, without the apps, without the flow, without experience that you are going to feel when you start the iPhone.
Experience as a Product School Student
Eduardo joined one of our online cohorts for the Product Management Certification in December of 2019, balancing his work life with education.
When I did the course it ran from December to the beginning of February, and we were on daylight savings time. So the course for me would start at 10:00 PM.
The content was incredible. I really liked it. Mainly because I worked with it already, I was already doing most of it. But it’s not like [you] know everything. Although you do [product management], we don’t know everything all the time, so you have to be humble and listen first.
The instructor was very good. Not only for being at Google, of course he deserves that position. But he was very good, very charismatic, and very firm at the same time.
Meet Eduardo’s Instructor: Ahmad Ismail
I didn’t have a problem [with the online learning barrier]. I was very glad that there were other students that [were working]. There was a person that got a position at Instagram, another one that was working at Adobe, another one from Google. So a lot of people that are really, really good at what they’re doing. So I was glad to participate, and that would motivate me more. To listen from these people to understand what they are feeling and what they are doing.
The Impact of 2020 on Remote Work
Even before 2020, remote work was a hot topic. Remote product management has also been a point of discussion, with some believing that it’s too people-oriented to be conducted 100% online.
Even during the class, I asked [the instructor] that question. I asked him, ‘what do you think about a product manager working remotely?’ He said that although there were some companies that were trying to do that he believed from what he was experiencing at Google that wouldn’t be the case.
Because it would be very difficult to handle multiple teams remotely. I kind of agree because, just with some of the projects I handle in my company… of course now I have people everywhere but before we were at the office. I can say it’s easier, of course, when you have the team all around you.
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