Global Community: The Top Organizers of 2019

The end of the year is fast approaching and we want to celebrate the first anniversary of Product School Global Community by recognizing the Top Community Organizers of 2019.

Coming from all corners of the world and from a variety of professional backgrounds, these fourteen people are true examples of going the extra mile to help others and collaborate on something awesome.

It takes dedication, passion, and insane organizational skills to take time out of a busy schedule to run a Product event. We managed to steal a little extra of their time to introduce some of them to you…

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Meet Manik

Community: Washington DC, USA

Celebrated for: Dramatic Growth

Manik is part of the team that put consistent efforts and great commitment into their group, and those efforts have paid off! The Product School Community in Washington DC has flourished and grown dramatically, giving local Product professionals the chance to take part in awesome monthly events.

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What’s the product community/scene like in your city?

“Even though Washington, DC is not a big tech hub like San Francisco, Seattle or New York, we have a decent number of Product Managers or people interested in this field.

We have regular meetups, I would say about twice a month but due to busy schedules, me and others usually attend about half of them. Even though we have a strong product community in Washington, DC, most of the product managers who come to these meetups are new to their role. This means that all of us are learning as we go.”

Do you have any advice for someone who’s thinking of coming to an event, but isn’t sure what to expect?

“We are a community of product enthusiasts with different levels and experiences. We tend to share these experiences with others through presentations, seminars, workshops or just general networking. Even if you are not interested in the presentation, I recommend everyone to just come and network with other product enthusiasts while making new friends.”

Did you learn any memorable insights from the past year of product events?

“I am someone who had no idea about Product Management before I attended my first product event. My first Product Management event was about challenges and solutions to problems in Product Management and went mostly above my head as it was not relatable.

However, I stayed until the very end and networked with so many people after and asked all the questions that a product amateur would ask. The best thing I like about the community is that everyone there wanted to help and share their experience. Rarely someone said no and the hour after that event was extremely beneficial for me. Fast forward three months from that event, I was working as an Associate Product Manager at my current company.”

What advice do you have for Product Managers in 2020?

“I believe that everyone (no matter their experience or level) can teach something that none of the other product enthusiasts are aware of. I would recommend everyone to share that knowledge with the Product Management community for collective growth. If there is one thing that I can leave you with, I would echo Helen Keller’s words, ‘Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.’

Feel free to connect with me and say hi!”

Find out more about Manik
Check out the Washington DC community

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Meet Raissa

Community: Porto, Portugal & Campinas, Brazil

Celebrated for: Borderless commitment in two continents

Raissa is the perfect example of how the Global Community has become borderless. She moved from Brazil, where she’d started a successful Community in Campinas, to Portugal, starting a new one from scratch and smashing it. A lot of people have benefited from her great efforts!

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What’s the product community/scene like in your city?

“The Product Community in Porto is growing every day. As there are many product companies with offices in the city, and new product positions being opened every month, there are lots of interesting opportunities here.

We also have such incredible diversity here, as there are Product Managers from different nationalities and backgrounds, always willing to share knowledge with others. Therefore, if you work with product or are interested in starting a career, Porto will always welcome you!”

Do you have any advice for someone who’s thinking of coming to an event, but isn’t sure what to expect?

“Our events are usually divided into three parts: first, we have a networking time when the participants are invited to meet and connect with others attending the event. Then the main talk begins, with the feature speaker’s presentation, and at the end we have a Q&A session where everyone is invited to share experiences and ask questions.

The attendees range from product managers, product owners, product designers, developers and even people in other areas as well. Therefore, you don’t have to work in a product role to attend events. We welcome anyone interested in the product universe to join our community and participate in our monthly events.”

Did you learn any memorable insights from the past year of product events?

“Yes, definitely. I remember one of the first Product School events in Porto, we had a panel with three product owners sharing their career paths, past experiences and explaining how they got into product roles. At the end of the event, an undergraduate called me and said that this event had changed his life, because until that moment he did not know which career he wanted to pursue, but after the talk it was absolutely clear to him. He said that we basically gave a name to everything he was interested in and wanted in a daily job: product manager.

This kind of situation represents one of the most important things for me as a Community Organiser: the power to change people’s lives by spreading the word about product, encouraging people to share knowledge outside the workplace and inspiring tomorrow’s product managers.”

Find out more about Raissa
Check out the Porto community

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Meet Jodhi

Community: Jakarta, Indonesia

Celebrated for: Hosting big events with great topics and a variety of formats

Jodhi, alongside Antoni, have put together some of the biggest and most successful events within the PS Global Community. Thanks to their great efforts, they’ve established a long-lasting relationship with local partners that opened the doors of their beautiful offices to the PS Community.

Product School event Jakarta

What’s the product community/scene like in your city?

“Product roles have become more popular these days in Jakarta as the demand keeps increasing as time goes on. From the companies’ perspectives, the pattern is that they need ready-to-hire PMs with all of the PM competencies and specific domain knowledge of the industry. For example, Tokopedia payment tribe will choose the PM with the banking background rather than the agriculture one.

On the other hand, aspiring PMs encounter struggles to upgrade their portfolio to match company requirements. This is a strong sign that dedicating yourself toward the Product Management path will pay off. Subsequently, Product Management roles clearly differ from one company and another, according to the firm’s size, business model, culture, and others. Since Product School Jakarta and few other product communities existed in Jakarta, those puzzles began to be solved. Product community events certainly helped newcomers and existing PMs to share, collaborate, and enrich the product atmosphere.”

Do you have any advice for someone who’s thinking of coming to an event, but isn’t sure what to expect?

“First of all, when you plan to come to an event, make sure that you have a goal in mind. For example, getting insights and networking would be the top reasons to join Product School events. Subsequently, make sure that you read all of the event descriptions to set your expectations. Lastly, you can discuss with other people who plan on going to the same event.”

Did you learn any memorable insights from the past year of product events?

We invited top-knotch C levels and Product leaders in the past year. For example, we learned about the underdog spirit and the importance of experimentation from Sofian Hadiwidjaya. We also amazed at how Hendra Kwik with his knowledge from Y-Combinator simplified the startup stages and ignited the entrepreneurship spirit within ourselves.

One of the funniest moment was of our first product event that I made with my colleague, Antoni Lewa. We invited Vincent Tjendra, AVP Tokopedia to our event. At the same time, I applied to Tokopedia, and I just got into the last interview session. Surprisingly, Vincent was the one who got assigned to interview me. So, our conversation became warm and I was on my way to get recruited.”

What advice do you have for Product Managers in 2020?

Sharpen your craftsman mindset by focusing on building measurable and impactful products to enrich your portfolio (this might be on your full-time job and your side job too!), pick an industry knowledge to become so good at it, find mentors and learn their thought process, read books, listen to audiobooks or podcasts, and most importantly, don’t forget to contribute to product atmosphere. Honestly, this advice is more aimed at me as I am a product manager myself.”

Find out more about Jodhi
Check out the Jakarta community

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Meet Pedro

Community: São Paulo, Brazil

Celebrated for: Consistency and great communication

The São Paulo community is a great example of how regular events and good communication can lead to dramatic growth within a local Product School Community. Our Meetup group in São Paulo now counts over 1,200 Product professionals that have learned and developed as individuals and professionals thanks to a great team.

Product School event Sao Paulo

What’s the product community/scene like in your city?

“São Paulo is the home of 8 out of 9 Brazilian unicorns, in the city you can find people from all regions with different cultures and philosophies working together. This is reflected at our product events where you can find people with a plurality of knowledge and backgrounds.”

Do you have any advice for someone who’s thinking of coming to an event, but isn’t sure what to expect?

“Everyone is welcome! At our events there isn’t a right or wrong path to follow, only different ones and we value that. So bring your experiences and doubts and let’s grow together. “

Did you learn any memorable insights from the past year of product events?

“We can highlight some good discussions we had when we brought competitors side by side to discuss on polemic topics, or when we brought together the woman who does the Siri voice for Apple and a blind woman to showcase the importance of accessibility in product development, but in nearly all the events we came to the same conclusion: there aren’t silver bullets in Product Management.”

What advice do you have for Product Managers in 2020?

  1. Study a lot and be humble!
  2. The product / service is not yours, it is from and to the people who use it!
  3. Understand that product management isn’t all about guts or data, it is about finding the right balance between art and science.”

Find out more about Pedro
Check out the São Paulo community

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Meet Prince

Community: Lagos, Nigeria

Celebrated for: Being a great help to the PM community

Prince established a Product School Community in a city where Product Management was far from being a known reality. Since then, together with the team that has grown around him, he’s given many people the opportunity to learn about Product, develop themselves as professionals and, most importantly, network with other like-minded people.

What’s the product community/scene like in your city?

“The Product Management community/scene in Lagos is one that’s constantly evolving, and each event is attended by a rich mix of experienced professionals and product enthusiasts. One challenge is that the Product Management role is still developing in Nigeria, and there are not enough opportunities for people to gain hands-on experience.

I believe that in 2020, we’ll witness the influx of more product enthusiasts who will attend our events seeking direction, and hoping to leverage the Product Management network to land their next gig.”

Do you have any advice for someone who’s thinking of coming to an event, but isn’t sure what to expect?

“One thing is constant, regardless of how much one knows about a topic, there’s always something new to learn when the topic is viewed from a fresh/different perspective. Therefore, to get the best out of our events, one needs to come without the assumption that he/she already knows all about the topic to be discussed. Our events take several structures; speaker presentations, interactive panel discussions and hands-on sessions.

I find that I’ve learnt the most when people freely shared their experiences, knowing that they are in the midst of a community that’s open-minded about learning and therefore willing to engage in a robust discussion to find the best practices as part of the key takeaways from the events. So, while preparing to attend one of our events, come prepared to exchange ideas, but most importantly come prepared to ask questions as and when you feel the need to.”

Did you learn any memorable insights from the past year of product events?

“I learnt that the importance of working with a community of likeminded people who are invested in your growth cannot be overestimated. Also, by working with a team of organisers for the events, I reinforced the learning that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and I appreciated how much a team can achieve when everyone is working towards a common goal.”

What advice do you have for Product Managers in 2020?

I’d advise product managers to be mindful of the following:

  1. Understand that you are responsible for your product: This means taking ownership of the product vision and understanding how it aligns with the corporate vision, identifying all the parties whose inputs directly/indirectly affect the product, and working out a plan that not only brings them to the table, but keeps them invested in the product’s success.
  2. Always think of the bigger picture: There’s more to product management than product launches. It is a product manager’s job to understand other aspects that contribute to making the products successful. Pick out an aspect of your product and dedicate, say, a quarter of 2020 to master it and then move on to the next until you have learnt as much as you could about your product that it becomes practically impossible to ignore your opinion.
  3. Join a community: Community is a great way to democratise knowledge by pulling them from different sources (individuals) and creating a level playing field where everyone has a chance to learn from one another without the hierarchical/intimidating nature of an office environment.

The past year as a community organiser taught me that no one has a monopoly of knowledge and experience, and Product Management as a career is so interesting that no two PMs working in different firms have completely similar experiences. As someone who enjoys working alone, organising these events has helped reaffirm the old saying: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

Find out more about Prince
Check out the Lagos community

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Meet Ioannis

Community: Athens, Greece

Celebrated for: Stunning community development and professionalism

Ioannis has demonstrated his professionalism and commitment throughout his collaboration with Product School, achieving incredible results in a region where Product Management was still in development. His consistent efforts, great communication, and feedback guaranteed the establishment and growth of the Product School Community in eastern Europe.

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“What’s the product community/scene like in your city?”

“Athens is in a transition period doing baby steps towards setting up the Product Management concept as a role and responsibilities. The community has a vital role nurturing the scene and bringing PMs together.”

Do you have any advice for someone who’s thinking of coming to an event, but isn’t sure what to expect?

“Our events are focusing on telling stories about becoming Product Managers, what the role is about and how they should expect to work as Product Managers in Software Companies in Athens.

Analysing priorities, responsibilities and work scope. We discuss at the same time good practices, overcoming obstacles, and tools we can use to make this role clearer.”

What advice do you have for Product Managers in 2020?

“Be data-driven, and user-oriented. Users should be the centre of your universe and for this reason research and solving customer problems should be the number one priority. And of course join our community, we have cookies 😊.”

Find out more about Ioannis
Check out the Athens community

Meet Farbod

Community: Amsterdam, Netherlands

Celebrated for: Consistent and meticulous planning

The Product School Community in Amsterdam is a perfect example of how quality always wins over quantity. Farbod has built links with great sponsors thanks to his consistent and meticulous work in planning, creating incredible learning and networking opportunities for the local community of Product professionals with over 1K RSVPs from just four events.

Product School event Amsterdam

What’s the product community/scene like in your city?

“The product community in Amsterdam is very engaging, vibrant and diverse. All the events that I organized have been sold out with more than 100 people attending every time. It almost feels like mini-conferences. In every meetup, I got to people from different competencies, e.g. product managers, product designers, program managers, and even developers.

At the end of the day, they all care about delivering a product that makes an impact and they see the value of engaging with the community to help other peers and grow their skillset and network.”

Do you have any advice for someone who’s thinking of coming to an event, but isn’t sure what to expect?

“It’s pretty straightforward: by attending an event, you’ll experience growth. By growth, I mainly refer to constant learning + networking which both contribute to your both professional and personal growth.

Thanks to these Meetups, I learned many new topics, even in the areas that I was already feeling confident and got to know many people working in different industries, making an impact with their products.”

Did you learn any memorable insights from the past year of product events?

“One of the most interesting concepts I’ve learned last year was from a talk about Spiral Dynamics and how to transform your company product culture (or overall culture) using this framework. It’s a psychological approach to understand human nature, mainly around how people think, and why people adopt the values they do. Strongly recommend PMs to have a look at it to create a lasting culture around their product teams.”

What advice do you have for Product Managers in 2020?

“There was a joke I saw on Twitter the other day: “In 2019 to be a successful artist u have to be a graphic designer, blogger, vlogger, editor, podcaster, clothing designer, stylist, makeup artist, creative director, actor, brand marketing strategist, social media analyst and maybe a musician.” Same for Product Management in 2020.

Joking aside — It’s becoming more and more important to sharpen your skills beyond the traditional product management skills and frameworks. Go learn a bit about marketing as you need to come up with a good launch strategy and market your product. Learn the basics of programming, git concepts, CI/CD, etc. so you communicate better with your development teams and earn their respect. Learn the fundaments of UI/UX, so next time you have a smooth conversation while providing feedback to your designers. Being a specialist in product management in 2020 requires being a generalist in many areas.”

Find out more about Farbod
Check out the Amsterdam community

We’re both incredibly proud, and incredibly grateful to our community organizers. The Global Product Community helps to make the Product world more accessible to all kinds of people, and without our fantastic organizers, this wouldn’t be possible.

Thank you for opening doors across the world.

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