Understanding Your Future Product Role with Indeed Sr Director of Product

This week Product School hosted Nissim Lehyani current Senior Director of Product at Indeed for an #AskMeAnything session. Nissim shared different skills and product frameworks, discussed the future of Product Management and more.

Nissim Leehyani

Meet Nissim Lehyani

Nissim is an entrepreneur and passionate about crafting frictionless products in a data-driven way. Currently, he’s the Senior Director of Product Management at Indeed, helping people get jobs, leading profiles, job applications, and machine learning teams. He Co-founded Shopial in 2012 and raised a total of $2.1M to build a platform helping 220,000 businesses to grow on social networks.

Key Product Management Frameworks 

What is your go-to framework or process for updating a roadmap from being timeline/output focused on outcome/results-focused?

I love this question since it’s very important to have a strategy on this. If we zoom out for a moment, then I believe that building a product is about reducing friction between people and an outcome they want to achieve.

People might be able to achieve this outcome with existing/alternative methods and tools today but they are facing friction and our job is to lead the team who builds the product to rally behind helping people achieving this outcome, identify the existing friction that they face and reduce this friction. By taking down obstacles and reducing friction we grow the number of people who are achieving this outcome.

Back to the framework: the way I’m conceptually approaching it is to list all potential ideas that can add value to the people using the product, classify these ideas/hypotheses based on:

  1. How much value can they bring? (S/M/L)
  2. How long will it take to bring them to the market? 
  3. How large is the relevant audience?

Doing so will surface the ideas that will bring the most value to most people in the shortest time frame. Start with the first one, ship and repeat.

You might also be interested in: How to Create Your Product Roadmap in 2020 (5 Templates Included)

road in the forest

What is your approach towards user interviews and synthesizing the interviews into product requirement documents? 

A good outcome of a user interview is to add a layer of information that we are missing in our data and other ways to learn how to add value to the people using the product.

My main advice is to be silent and listen as much as you can. Ask broad/“Wh..” questions (what/why/where/how). Avoid specific questions or questions that lead to the solution you have in mind. Also, try to ask “why” several times to understand the root cause of the answers provided.

You might also be interested in: Product Management Skills: User Research

How do you manage analytics across the product team? Any best practices?

This is a very large topic but I’ll try to answer briefly.

Having good and accessible data is a must. It’s very important to maximize the number of answers people can receive when they ask their product related questions. Often time, a lot of time is required to get an answer to a question (e.g. not instrumented, the query requires coding, requires human interaction).

A good test to see if your data is in a good shape is to ask an ad-hoc question and measure the time it takes to get the answer to it. You want to be in a place where 80% can be answered within minutes.

You might also be interested in: 5 Reasons Why Product Managers Have to Understand Data

How would you recommend to prioritize when trying to understand what to focus on at the very early stages of the product?

Focus on identifying the unit of value you can deliver to the people using the product, get them as fast as possible from onboarding to value, and get to the point they repeat their action (retention).

You might also be interested in: 3 Prioritization Techniques All Product Managers Should Know

hands working on report

Your Product Management Future 

If you had to shortlist 10 people out of 100 candidates for an APM role, how would you go about it?

I will look for a person who ideally has any level of experience. If there’s no experience, then a person who demonstrates the ability to learn, listen, and has a good sense of product as a user.

I will ask questions such as describe me a product you like and why and carefully listen to the answer.

You might also bee interested in: 4 Tips to Write a Product Manager Resume Recruiters Will Notice + Examples

How can one structure their thoughts better for an interview?

In short: try to reduce the friction to understand the idea from the person who listens to you.

Given the importance of this topic, I’ll also provide a longer answer. Communicating is key to rally people behind ideas. I’ll advise you to communicate the idea succinctly, provide the necessary context, and do everything we can to facilitate the understanding of the idea on the other side.

I found this article to be helpful. Read it and read it again

This requires practice, a lot of it. People (me first) rarely master communication but rather are constantly improving this important skill. The good news is that once we understand what needs to be done, there are plenty of opportunities (in work and life) to practice and improve.

Another way to approach it from a product viewpoint. There’s a funnel in communicating an idea:

  1. You have an idea you understand
  2. You communicate it
  3. The other person (or a group) listens
  4. They understand your idea
  5. They understand it well enough to explain it to someone else in your absence

We want to maximize the conversion from 1 to 5.

3 people talking in a table

How can a novice get into the product management role?

One way to approach this question is to ask “How to become PM without prior product experience?”

From an entrepreneurial approach, not having prior experience is an obstacle. So why not remove that obstacle? A good way to not apply with no prior experience is to build experience.

Consider building a product that people use. Find a problem, build a product that adds value, and get people to use it, even if it’s only a handful of people, this will force you to ask yourself important questions and find the right answers. This will enable you to focus the discussion between you and a potential employer on the experience that you’ve acquired. This will mainly require time from you, since most, if not all, of it, can be done for free today.

You might also be interested in: Getting Your Start in Product Management Outside of Silicon Valley

What is your prediction about the future of product manager jobs and openings?

Without getting into predictions, I see an increasing level of realization that product building teams deliver more value with a person leading the product management aspect than without.

You might also be interested in: Product Planning in a Post-COVID-19 World: The Product Strategy Survival Toolkit

Join us next week for another #AskMeAnything Session for more insights from Product Managers around the world!

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