ProductTank PDX

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For our next meeting on August 24th, we'll have two amazing speakers. Rian Van Der Merwe, Product Manager at Wildbit, and Susannah Axelrod, VP of Product at Skyward. Their talks will help you up your game as a PM and give you tools to move ahead. See you there!

Product Tank PDX August Talks

Product Management for well-established products - Rian Van Der Merwe

There’s a lot you need to get right when launching a new product, so naturally there’s quite a bit of writing and speaking on this topic. What we see less of is resources on how to manage a well-established product that’s been in the market for a while. That’s what this talk is about.

Well-established products face a different set of challenges than newer products. It’s harder to figure out what to work on next, and complacency can easily set in.

In this talk I’ll share some of those learnings on how to move from managing a young product to managing a mature product by focusing on three important key guidelines:

Prioritization becomes a much finer art (with a little less science). Roadmaps become more important. Process becomes more necessary. Rian designs and builds high quality software that people love to use. He also wrote a book about it called Making It Right (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00M0KTVTO?tag=leavethegreat-20). After spending several years working in Silicon Valley and Cape Town, South Africa, he is now Product Manager at Wildbit (http://www.wildbit.com/), working from Portland, OR. He blogs (http://www.elezea.com/blog) and tweets (http://twitter.com/rianvdm) regularly about design, technology, and software development.

These Fundamental Things Apply: Organizational Elements for Product Management Success - Susannah Axelrod
There's no shortage of information and training about what product managers are supposed to do and how we should do our jobs. That said, companies where product managers actually do what we are "supposed to" seem relatively few and far between. What accounts for this disparity? Much of the training out there treats product management activities in isolation. In reality, product management is a central role that is both critical and incredibly sensitive to the health of the overall organization. Essential elements of the ecosystem are necessary for product managers to flourish - and in turn improve the business in a virtuous cycle. In this talk, I'll address critical organizational factors I've experienced that can help product teams excel or cause us to flounder. We'll also discuss what we can do at different levels of our careers to foster a healthy ecosystem.
Susannah Axelrod is an expert at determining what is going well and what needs to be improved about your product, process and organization. As a product leader, she maximizes what's already working and fixes what's not by identifying strategic opportunities, strengthening cross-functional relationships and building world-class teams. Over nearly 20 years, Susannah has experienced both the light and dark sides of the technology industry. Though taller and less wrinkled than Yoda, she still teaches colleagues to master the way of the product manager. Susannah also keeps her ears open. She never stops learning how to define great products in this ever-evolving profession. Susannah recently joined Skyward (a Verizon company) as VP of Product, where she is excited to build software for the emerging commercial drone industry. Prior to Skyward, Susannah was Director of Product Management at Puppet, where her team transformed the flagship product into a true enterprise-class solution. She has also held product leadership roles at Intel, Intuit, Sage and Thomson Reuters. She is a frequent presenter, contributor and participant at industry and local product management events. Susannah holds a couple of top-shelf degrees with honors, including a BA from the University of Chicago and an MBA from Wharton, but has learned much more on the job than she ever did in school.