The Two-Faced Product Manager

By Laura Haines

I spend a large amount of time swamped in huge amounts of data, both qualitative and quantitative…

Data is king! Gone are the days when only data scientists poured over endless amounts of data; the identifying, reporting and analyzing all of that glorious information at their finger tips. Data is the new engine-oil; it drives decisions, backs up assumptions and brings logic to otherwise opinion-based discussions. Data is not a new concept, to me or to many, I have been data driven for many years and although I don’t claim to be an expert, I love the insights that this quantitative goldmine delivers. So why, all of a sudden, do I feel disloyal to my analytical character now that I’ve moved from project to product management? I have a confession to make… 
 
After a mere six months in my new role as Product Manager and despite bringing a variety of experience to the role; from Engineer to Analyst to Project Manager to Agile coach, I have ventured further than I could have anticipated in to the realms of growth and product. 
 
I was lucky enough to begin my role as a Product Manager, tackling the entire Americas region. The Americas regions required a large amount of analysis with the goal of obtaining (at a minimum) product market fit and required every area to be investigated from scratch.

Lucky? Let me tell you why!

In order to understand the intricacies of each market, I spend a large amount of time swamped in huge amounts of data, both qualitative and quantitative and whilst I have the opportunity to learn from other skilled product managers, I have quickly noticed my main advantage (and my confession) — I’ve become two-faced. 
 
The industry talks of wearing many hats: the leader, the influencer, the engineer, the designer, the strategist, the analyst, the janitor, the executor (the list goes on), but this is not what I mean, I’m referring to where you focus, who you listen to.

Laura pictured here in one of our many chalk board sessions. The best way to illustrate big ideas!

In a world full of GA, KPIs, event tracking and experimental analysis, it is easy to get engulfed, battling to review the data, understand it and use it to tell a story, make decisions, obtain stakeholder buy-in. In my new world I was suddenly confronted by quantitative data’s little brother, qualitative data — user data, reviews, Net Promotor Scores (NPS), user satisfaction feedback, onsite surveys, usability testing. Again, not a new concept, but in a data driven world I decided to pay attention. 
 
Product Managers looking after a specific service become obsessed with the data, with the product, and rightly so. However, we mustn’t forget about user data, feedback, comments and opinions. The things you currently measure don’t always give you the full story, it wasn’t until we listened to user feedback across multiple mediums that we realized we had a speed issue that required attention. It was only by knowing where to look, where to implement additional event tracking and reporting, that we could see the problem in the data. 
 
I now live in a world where I have to perform analysis of the full funnel, across all platforms, in multiple markets, in both emerging and established countries. Therefore I have to face both ways, I have to listen to the user feedback and the data in its purest form.

Be two-faced

Making the decision to become two-faced, to listen to both the metrics and users, has increased my understanding of our product and strengthened my role as a Product Manager. It highlighted the challenges we face, the vast opportunities we hold and allows me to relate to our products in both a scientific manner (appealing to the engineer in me) and also with greater empathy for our users, for those travelers that embody Skyscanner’s raison d’être.
 
I encourage you to evaluate how you view your professional world, how data driven are you and are you two-faced? Should you be?

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About the author

Hi my name is Laura Haines, thanks for reading my post. I am a Product Manager at Skyscanner, working in the Americas Tribes to obtain product market fit and growth of all markets. The amazing company culture gives me the opportunity for accelerated learning through a data driven, build measure learn approach, allowing us to fail fast. Skyscanner provides me with an environment where autonomy and mastery is the norm, no two days are the same and I feel empowered to apply my knowledge and experience to make impactful decisions to grow the company and grow myself. I’d encourage you to take a look at the current Skyscanner Product and Marketing roles we have in our Growth Tribes across our global offices.

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