The UX and PM Overlap with Salesforce Director of Product

This week, Product School hosted Anton Kravchenko, Director of Product at Salesforce for a special #AskMeAnything session. Anton talks about the recent trend of UX and PM overlap, as well as the top tools and resources he recommends to succeed as a Product manager.

Meet Anton

Anton Kravchenko, Director of Product at Salesforce

Anton Kravchenko is a Product professional who is passionate about designing and creating products that solve big industry problems.

With a mission to create more owners, he recently joined Carta as Director of Product Management. Previously, Anton was a Director of Product at Salesforce where he led multiple development teams to create a store for MuleSoft connectivity. Anton also runs a YouTube channel (TechGuap) where he helps college students become future tech professionals!

What should I do when I first get on the job to succeed in my first Product Management role?

The first thing PMs should do is to take an outside-in view of the company/product. This typically involves looking at the market and competitors. Other things you might want to do in your first weeks at a new company are to connect with key stakeholders and understand their needs and incentives.

Check out: Market Opportunity Analysis for Product Managers

What are the top 3 tools to have in your tool belt as a PM?

hardware tools arranged on a work table

It’s a tricky question as each PM style is very different. For example, I’ve seen PMs who come from customer-facing roles—these PMs are really good at making presentations and talking to customers.

On the other hand, I’ve seen PMs who transition from engineering—these PMs can unpack the product to tiny details and engage with engineering and architects. What’s important is to understand your strengths and leverage them to your advantage. As for my three tools/skills:

  1. Presentation tools – the more senior you become as a PM, the more critical it is to make sure everyone understands where you are leading your teams.
  2. Developer tools – I focus on APIs and integrations, so to be a #1 user, I need to stay up to date with the latest in the developer ecosystem.
  3. People skills – for me, it’s essential to set a fun environment at work, and I always look at ways to engage my teams in new ways, e.g., recognize top-performing teammates.

A must-read: A Curated List of Tools and Software for Product Managers in 2022

What presentation tools do you use?

  • Google slides – professional work. Great collaboration tools.
  • Keynote – personal projects. I find it more robust than Google.
  • Miro – great for whiteboarding
person presenting in front of room of people with a projector showing slides behind the presenter. the presenter's arms are outstretched

What resources do you recommend to succeed in Product?

Great questions. The resources I typically recommend are the following 3 books:

  1. Cracking the PM Interview: How to Land a Product Manager Job in Technology
  2. The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses
  3. HBR’s 10 Must Reads on Design Thinking (with featured article “Design Thinking” By Tim Brown)

I also started to record basic PM/tech videos and tips on my YouTube channel TechGuap.

I’ve noticed an industry trend where the line between UX and PM is being blurred. Are you noticing this in your space?

Great question, and yes, I notice the same trend. It’s especially common in organizations/teams with one PM leading 2+ engineering teams. In these settings, the UX counterpart will step in to help with customer engagements e.g. customer interviews, design validations, etc.

How would you convince leadership in a young organization to hire a Product Manager?

two people shaking hands in an office setting while seated at a table by the window

This usually happens naturally when the organization has too many engineering teams and no PM oversight. In the smaller companies, founders are engaged with taking the product 0—>1, but when the engineering org grows to ~30+ developers, this becomes unsustainable. My suggestion, plug into the engineering work and understand where you can bring value by connecting this work with customer needs.

Related to this: How to Hire the Right Product Manager for Your Company

How can I position my non-PM Product experience in an interview?

It depends if you do or do not have product experience. Knowing the product you are going to manage inside out is a great advantage. One thing that I tell to all my teams is that we need to be a #1 user—this means trying new features before we pass them over to QA or early adopters.

What do you think make a candidate stand out among all other applicant when applying for PM jobs?

This usually depends on where you are at in the process:

  • Early in the process – your experience, especially work on relevant tech
  • Later in the process – culture fit e.g. would you be successful leading the engineering team.

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