Warren Wan is a product leader with extensive experience at Under Armour, MyFitnessPal, eHarmony, Yahoo, and currently heads up Cleverest Labs, a product strategy consulting firm.
1. What piece of advice do you wish you knew when you started your career?
The right manager is as or even more important than the company you choose to grow your career. Look to find a mentor who will allow you the trust to grow your skills, as well as someone who will guide you into the next role and level of growth suited to YOU, not just what the company needs.
2. How do you define success?
I personally define success as the ability to choose. To not only choose the problems that I want to work towards solving, but also the people who I tackle these challenges with.
3. What is the biggest misconception about what you do?
I think the biggest misconception about product management is that in this role, you get to dictate the strategy for a company. Few of the people you need to execute your job will directly report to you. Often times, a product leader is in service of the other cross-functional teams in the organization – you own the outcome, but have to do so by selling vision and driving consensus.
4. What traits or skills do you believe one needs to have the same job title as you or to do what you do?
I don’t think this is mentioned enough, but a great product manager needs to be able to sell. They need to sell everyone – end users, executives, engineers, designers, marketers, PR, and every other cross-functional team member – that they understand the pain point they’re trying to solve, and that their solution will lead to success. The other skills you’ll need to succeed – whether they be user experience, data analytics, technical know how, etc. – all stem from this singular need to sell your vision capably within your organization.