This week, Product School hosted Luis Trindade, Principal Product Manager at Farfetch, for a special #AskMeAnything session. Luis answered questions regarding the technical side of product management and emphasized how important customer centricity and experimentation are.
Meet Luis Trindade
Luis is a Principal Product Manager currently working at Farfetch. His career journey started as Software Developer, and later, he embraced UI Design experiences. He has worked in mobile communication and fashion content.
Today at Farfetch, he is responsible for the Experimentation horizontal area and spearheading the F-Tech Test & Learn program, guaranteeing it is accurate, scalable, hypothesis-driven, and customer-centric.
What do you think is the most important skill for a PM to have to be successful?
The most important skill is really to be customer centric, to listen to your customers and learn from them.
That doesn’t mean to simply do whatever they tell you they want – like the famous quote: sometimes customers don’t know what they want until you show them – but to really generate and test hypotheses on how to make a better product. Always balancing customer centricity with an aligned product vision will guide you there.
Transitioning to Product Management from Another Role
What skills should I pick up as a developer hoping to transition into product management?
In my personal case I also started as a developer (full-stack) building solutions for my clients. But the thing that sparked my curiosity was to really want to understand the final customers. That curiosity lead me to study more about ergonomy and user research/interaction. It’s the most important skill for a PM, to know their users and how to learn from them.
This is why I embraced experimentation, as a mindset, the most powerful tool and skill you may have. Apply the scientific approach to get insights, generate hypotheses, and test them to learn from it as quick as you can. All while trying to avoid all the human biases we all have 🙂
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What is your opinion about the transition from user experience to product management?
It’s a super easy one 🙂
Because you have already the most important skills, which are creating/iterating while listening to your users. Then you just need to add some bits of management and communication/influencing skills and a bit of analytics. Thats it!
Do you think getting a Project Management Professional (PMP) certification will help me as I switch from being a Project Manager to a Product Manager?
Being completely honest, no. PMP will help you be a more focused and delivery-centric person, and that’s great, but that is not the main skill from a true Product Manager. That should be customer centricity.
Rely on other people next to you to help you keep that on track (in my case, with the Tech Leads from the teams). More knowledge is always great, but I wouldn’t put it as my priority.
What is one of the hardest lessons you learned during your transition from an engineering/developer role to a product management role?
Not everything is focused on the perfect quality and delivery. What really made me grow was when I realised how important our customer success, is, and how to build solutions that go towards their needs AND are aligned with your product vision.
A great way to guide you is to have a North Star (customer centric leading indicator), and be super fast at iterating with your users. If you want to learn from them, learn faster, because they will not wait.
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How do you manage your time as a PM?
My personal trick is to apply the exact same concept I do with my agile teams: timeboxing & continuous prioritization. Trying to do everything at the same time doesn’t work.
Choose your top priority and most important thing to do AND define short timeboxes (from 30m to a couple of hours max) and evaluate where you are after that. At the end of that time, evaluate if it’s still the most prioritized task and continue iterating, or if what you have is good enough.
Currently I plan my day before I get started – is this a good way of prioritizing, or should I have more frequent check-ins throughout the day?
I don’t really believe in recipes. What works for me could not work for you. The best way is for you to try. You already have a couple of hypotheses there 🙂
Just test them during a timeboxed period and evaluate the results after that. If it was better, continue, if not, iterate!
Managing Teams and Stakeholders
How do you manage expectations with stakeholders, customers, and internal team when you launch product releases?
The best way to manage expectations is to have alignment. Sometimes people ask me about one word to describe the product manager role, and that is alignment (very closely to experimentation).
Most of the times, teams are simply running like headless chickens, trying to deliver something that is no more a priority or the right thing for the users, but they still push forward and put their head on the ground and keep delivering.
The only way I know to promote that alignment is to promote continuous communication and ensure that there is a common objective. I mentioned before about the North Star (and then derive from there more tactical short term tools like OKRs, etc), and that is the best way to have everyone focused.
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How can a Product Manager help their team believe in them after shaky management on an early project?
You can use the same thing you use when you need to convince anyone else (stakeholders, etc) to pursuit your vision: use data to support your next steps and decisions.
Everybody has opinions and they are great, but most of them will fail. So focus on data to gain trust on what you are doing: hypothesize and validate all your steps to demonstrate that you’re not just wildly guessing.
What are your recommendations for a PM in a startup environment? I manage a small team that is stretched too thin to please all stakeholder requests.
Challenging topic, but would recommend Lean Enterprise, or Experimentation Works. When you find the magic solution for it, ping me 😉
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How do I get international and remote internships?
We have an internship program we call Plugin. You can read more here.
As a recent graduate, how do I escape the neverending loop of needing a job, but only seeing job postings that require years of experience?
Do your own product! Test it, launch it, and learn from it even if it fails 🙂
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What kind of experience/education should I look for if I wish to become a technical product manager?
Technical PMs are closer to my definition of the Tech Leads on a truly agile team. For me a PM is a PM 🙂 If someone has a tech background it’s great, but not enough to make them a great PM.
Of course in some areas, like Data Products, where you have less final customer involvement, it could help to speed the communication and alignment with the development team, and you can influence better the roadmap. But with a strong supporting team, you can still be an amazing data/platform products PM without deep technical knowledge.
As a PM with a technical background, what technical skills do you expect from a candidate for your Product Team?
Like I said already, technical skills in a PM are just one part (and a helpful part in most of the roles, especially if building more tech driven products).
But the capacity to listen from your customers, learn from them, communicate & influence your product vision, support your decisions in data, and have some management skills to ensure alignment and a good pace, are the most crucial ones.
For candidates, it’s always tricky to see or validate all that during the interviews, but you can see much of that from the passion on how a candidate talks about solving previous customer problems or opportunities.
From a product perspective, what are the biggest differences working in the fashion industry compared to where you were before?
When you are building customer centric products, the focus, tactics, and skills are exactly the same. Of course you need to understand your customers and users, and that is where knowing the industry can help.
But when you have the luck to be in a company like mine, where we can rely on an amazing team of experts on the industry, my job becomes much easier.
If I had to highlight a difference (more specifically about the luxury space, not necessarily just the fashion industry), I would say: forget all learnings from traditional e-commerce. User behaviours are completely different.
What products do you like and why ?
Products that make me feel awesome as a user. There aren’t that many nowadays. The customer success at every single step is the key for a great product.
Any final advice?
Listen to your customers and learn from them as fast as you can, because product management = experimentation.