Product leaders reach out to us at Produx Labs to understand how Product Operations can impact their org — and recommendations on what to look for in a hire. Recently, we had a thought-provoking discussion with Oji Udezue, VP of Product at Calendly, about their first product operations hire. Post conversation, we followed up with a few questions for Oji about the Product Operations manager search and tips for other product leaders.
What made you decide you needed a formalized product operations function?
It was a focus on product excellence. We have some great inclusive product processes but we needed someone to help run it consistently and excellently. But not only that, this role will find ways to level up and find areas of constant improvement, so Calendly can have one of the best product teams in the world.
How did you create a headcount for the role? What was the business case you made to the CEO?
Actually, it was easy to make the case that we needed a way to expand the Product team’s capacity to build excellent products consistently and streamline execution.
Were your priorities clear for what this role would own? (data vs process or both)
No, it was not. I had to learn a lot from content produced by ProduxLabs (in concert with Pendo) but also by chatting with leaders in ProduxLabs and also talking to other industry experts.
Are you planning to hire for a blended role (data and process) or one or the other? Why?
I think I’m leaning towards mostly process and medium level strategy as a first hire. I think data should be a dedicated role in a scaling organization (that can report to Product Ops).
You’ve had a Prod Ops job posted. What kinds of candidates have you gotten so far?
I’ve been surprised at the quality of candidates applying, actually. To be honest I had low expectations because of the relative newness of this kind of role. But there is clearly a set of people who already do this (with or without the title) or want to, that are high quality.
What’s your advice for other product leaders standing up a prod ops role/function?
- Do your research.
- Outline specifically what you want from the role for your organization, e.g. responsibilities and outcomes.
- Write out any specific deliverables and projects you want this role/person to get started on initially.
- Make sure you think about how you will introduce this role to cross-functional leaders and how you think they should work with the rest of the organization.
- Since it’s usually a newish role, explain to your PMs how you expect them to work with this role so they’re not wary of it and help it succeed.