Nov 28, 2018 Gerda Verbickaite
How to build a highly functional hiring funnel for top engineers? What can design thinking do when deployed right at the beginning of the product development phase? How to best prepare your product for local adaptability when you’re expanding globally? These are questions that many product-driven firms will have to answer, most likely during the early point of their growth.
Julia Grace from Slack, Bradley Horowitz from Google and Alice Newton-Rex from WorldRemit, will be at Slush to shed some light on these questions for you. Get ready for a deep dive into the world of product development.
“My successful transition from a software engineer to a manager is largely due to my ability to identify the people that play the long game, and to me deferring to the employees on many important decisions.”
Julia Grace is one of the driving forces behind the rapidly growing collaboration tool Slack and responsible for growing their infrastructure team to 100 employees. Being an engineer at heart, she had to learn a brand new set of skills when taking on a managerial position at a fast-growth company, with her responsibilities shifting towards decisions affecting all Slack’s users and over many employees. Julia believes that her success in the transition has been due to her ability to find the talent who wants to play the long game and deferring to the employees on many important decisions.
To boost the pace of solving problems within the company, in turn, Slack introduced a concept called “Software Design Workshop”, in which any engineer can illustrate their proposals on how to solve a certain problem. This approach makes it easier for all engineers to better bring their best foot forward and share knowledge horizontally across engineering teams while fostering a more open learning environment.
Slack has developed a transparent recruitment process, which Julia has openly shared for anyone interested in becoming an engineer at Slack. “I prioritize people who are knowledgeable in making long-term infrastructure decisions”, says Julia.
Have you ever wondered what are some of the secrets behind Google’s decades-long success? Bradley Horowitz believes it partly lies in incorporating design thinking into their product development. Users don’t see the backend of your product, they know and judge it the way they interact with it. By including design thinking into the development of each product early on, companies can open doors to customers that they couldn’t have found otherwise”, he explains.
As Vice President of Product Management at Google, Bradley has led many of the company’s largest consumer applications including Gmail, Google Drive and Docs, Google+, Google News and Google Photos. Google has created a large amount of successful products we all use on a daily basis. With continuous and consistent user research, Google is able to find new use cases for current products and untapped needs, which otherwise the product development team might not have been able to spot.
Curious how to properly apply design thinking into your product? Bradley, together with former head of design at Google, Irene Au, will share their know-how on how to make product management and design thinking go successfully hand-in-hand.
Alice Newton-Rex joined WorldRemit as their first product manager and has helped grow the company from 40 people to over 620, along with the user base from thousands to millions. In her talk at Sush, Alice will give hands-on advice on adapting your product to a new country, scaling quickly through global partnerships and avoiding the common pitfalls.
WorldRemit, a service that helps users – often unfamiliar with digital transactional services – to send money to their family and friends around the globe has expanded to over 140 countries. Earlier this year, WorldRemit became the first UK fintech company to integrate with WhatsApp, allowing users to follow their transactions easier. In 2017 they also made an integration with Android Pay, after the realization that over 2 million of their users use mobile, but may lack the access to traditional banking services.
While developing WorldRemit Alice encountered challenges such as adapting the product to various new markets. This required her team to relentlessly watch early users in action using their product, in order to know their needs and identify the issues that they might have with it. From the start, WorldRemit carefully invested time in proper technical architecture, which in long-term helped to grow the product with added flexibility in its development.
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