All Eyes on Dennis

Dennis Krüger
October 2017

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Tell me about your Project A journey so far. You started as an Intern in the Investment Team and then switched to Product. How come?
Yeah, my background is less typical for someone working in Product, since I did not study computer science or any technology-oriented subject. I studied business management and had already gathered some experience in investment-related internships during my studies. Hence, Project A’s Investment Team just seemed to be the right fit for another internship at that time. And, of course, it paid out and I had a great time working there.

At the same time, I knew from the very beginning that I further wanted to gain some hands-on experience in supporting our ventures with my operational expertise. My scope expanded when I discovered my interest in tech products and in the methods used by product teams to create and deliver products that are (hopefully) loved by their customers. In my opinion (and this might be debatable), the product is vital for a company. It gives a company the best reason for continuous existence and is the main reason why a company survives on the market in the long term. Product Management, therefore, is a field that keeps you challenged. Especially, as it combines many schools of thought, from marketing over user experience design to business administration. Thus, I’m very grateful that I have the chance to be a part of it.

What is the day-to-day work of a Product Manager?
Seriously, that depends entirely on the type of ventures you are working for, the objectives the company is currently pursuing, and the stage of the venture. When you support an early stage venture, the main focus is usually on exploring the relationship between the customer and the product. We make use of different methods in user research, data analysis, and product design to quickly find answers to questions like: How do we generate demand and onboard new customers? How is it possible to increase an adoption or engagement? How can we create consumer habits? Is our solution good enough? The most valuable insights need to be prioritized and then be integrated into the product.

When supporting ventures that are more mature, all of the above is still equally relevant. But the focus is shifted stronger on building a viable and scalable business around the product. The speed of product delivery and the ability to consistently provide more value to customers becomes one of the driving factors. At this stage, one of the main challenges is to establish a functioning product organization that is capable of choosing the best ideas and to deliver them fast; all while having everybody, from Design to Sales, bought-in to what the underlying technology is currently able to deliver and to how the product vision is evolving.

In my interpretation, product management can be defined as a vital communicative role. We spend a lot of time talking to stakeholders like customers, marketing managers, or business managers, to understand their motives. In a second step, we translate these insights into a consistent product direction, get everybody on board, and deliver on it in close collaboration with product design, the development team, and quality assurance.

How does the Product Team look like at Project A?
I think next to the Design Team, we’re the most diverse team here at Project A: We’re French, Belarusian, Maltese, and German. Also regarding our professional background, we have all had entirely different paths that led us to Product Management. Our skills can be described as complementary, which makes working together a real pleasure. Especially as we can learn a lot from each other. At the moment, we work on quite independent projects, but we still help each other out wherever we can. So, I’m already looking forward to future projects when we will again be working side by side.

What was your most exciting project so far?
Actually, I have two favorites: First, I really enjoyed prototyping a machine learning enabled photo upload application for the online auctioning platform Catawiki. In a nutshell, we tried to teach users how to take better pictures of the products they were trying to sell. We did this by using an algorithm that could identify picture quality based on a variety of factors. It’s incredible what you can achieve in only two weeks with a bunch of motivated people.

However, I am also really enjoying working as a Product Owner at my current project at the e-commerce solution Spryker. Their growth has triggered a lot of significant changes within the company: they are on their way to developing from a start-up into a full-scale, product-driven organization. It’s a very interesting experience and I am very grateful that I can be part of this journey.

How would you describe the culture at Project A in general?
In one word: Cooperative. If it weren’t for the fact that there is that much interdepartmental knowledge sharing, I probably wouldn’t be working in Product Management right now. It’s great to see how many people help each other out here and how motivated everyone is.

What is your favorite Project A value?
Obligation to Dissent. I think the attitude to take everyone’s opinion equally seriously, no matter the hierarchy or the position, is an essential part of creating a positive working environment.

If you could choose a superpower, which one would be yours?
This is a tough one. I spent many sleepless nights thinking about this question. There are so many great superpowers out there. If I had to pick one, I’d probably choose the ability to stop time for myself and a handful of other people: Weekends would last 3 days, and I would finally meet every deadline on time ;).

What do you like to do in your free time?
I like to keep trying out new things: I recently made some amazing hot sauces and pretty decent kimchi!

Do you want to work within the Product Management team and maybe add another nationality to this diverse team? Take a look at our open positions.

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