Gaining credibility with internal teams and end users

Arielle Caron

Head of Risk Product and Risk Data Science at Blackhawk Network



"Sometimes, product managers are thought of as operating from an ivory tower and not truly understanding what goes into performing the functions of our internal or external partners and end users. If this happens, we risk losing touch with our stakeholders and customers. How can we strike a balance between remaining strategic and getting our hands dirty?"

Actions taken

First, we need to think of the distinct groups we are interacting with and their common activities. For me, these groups have often been functions such as Operations, Sales, Data Science, Engineering, and of course, end users (internal and/or external). It's often helpful to start with conversations to inquire about their roles, and especially if you can offer to shadow them for at least a few hours as they perform these functions. Understand the lingo/jargon that is used in those functions. For example, when interacting with sales: do you know the stages in the sales cycle? Do you join calls with prospects or customers to assist? Do you help with RFPs/RFIs? Have you joined an on-site customer meeting?

Lessons learned

"You may think there's not enough time to 'sit with' all these groups. Make time! It is worth it. There is no substitute for spending time and putting in effort when it comes to building relationships. If you show interest, understanding, and curiosity about the work that these groups do, they will share a wealth of information with you, and will also be more understanding and sympathetic when you have challenges. In particular, when it comes to understanding the needs of your end users, if you have ground level experiences shadowing or performing those tasks, you gain a world of credibility and it will make you a better product manager."

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Arielle Caron

Head of Risk Product and Risk Data Science at Blackhawk Network

CommunicationOrganizational StrategyEngineering ManagementTechnical ExpertiseCareer GrowthIndividual Contributor RolesStaff EngineerLeadership RolesEngineering ManagerTeam & Project Management

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