Trailblazing Women in Product Management: How to Blaze Your Own Trail [Video]

In honor of International Women’s Day 2020, 280 Group hosted a virtual panel discussion on how trailblazing women paved their way into Product Management. The panel, stemming from 280 Group’s new Empowering Epic Product Management series, Trailblazing Women in PM: How to Blaze Your Own Trail was held virtually. We heard from PM veterans their take on essential skills and strategies, success stories, lessons from past failures, candid feedback on how to tackle gender parity in PM, and actionable insights to move forward with.

Trailblazing Panelists

Tackling the Issues

In an effort to offer women in product management a deep discussion from some of the leading product managers in the industry, the panel highlighted some of the pressing issues many in the community are facing.

Topics include:

Check out some of the highlights in this video,
Inspiration From the Summit:

Watch the full panel video recording: Trailblazing Women in Product Management On-Demand.

Quick Snippets

What are your tips for breaking into Product Management?

Brandye Sweetnam: “Strong customer understanding, being able to build customer empathy, being able to talk to customers, and being able to remove yourself and your opinions from the process. One of the things I look for when I hire Product Managers is people who have customer-facing experience.”

What do you do when you’re asked to do too much?

Samantha Bufton: “As a Product Manager, you are able to leverage a cross-functional team, and your cross-functional team will really flex to support and compensate for any areas where you really need to grow.”

What are the quintessential qualities of a Product Manager that would be the same at any company?

Denise Hemke: “I think curiosity is huge. Customer empathy is also really important. And when I talk about Product Managers, the word that I really love is ‘obsessed’. I want somebody who is obsessed with their product, who is constantly thinking about what is going to break, and how users are going to use it, and are obsessed with their customers.”

How have you leveraged other people to gain success or learn what you didn’t already know?

Rosa Welton: “If something is interesting, I think we can support each other. We can find the resources to learn about an area, get the skills that we need and bring a team together to make something happen. I credit that [thinking] to really starting good things for me.”

Margaret Finch: “What I have learned very recently is that if there’s no clear owner, it does fall on the PM to set up that process and really drive that process to the ground and really get everybody adhering to it… I had to bring the right people to the table, force the conversation for a schedule, and a cadence, and approval process – and now have to hold the team accountable for that. It’s helpful to know that I can do that, and get the leadership without authority skills to get people on board.”

Have you used “process” as a way to build a sense of order?

Lizza Diaz: “Often some of our customers are asking for so many different things and they’re not realizing that there are these dependencies, and just really helping them create that journey and that roadmap, in terms of ‘which one should we do first’. What are we really trying to accomplish – what’s the ‘why’. If we can get to the ‘why’ and what we’re trying to meet as a business objective and really pull that in, then that helps us to get to deliver a more optimal product for them.”

Resources to Help You Blaze Your Own Trail

Download the E-Book

For a deeper dive into their stories and actionable tips you can use in your day-to-day work, download the Trailblazing Women in Product Management E-Book. Whether you’re already a Product Manager or considering transitioning into the role, this E-Book will provide you with insights from trailblazing women who have successfully paved their way into Product Management leadership roles.

Women in Product

Getting advice and tips from other women in the field can give you ideas on how to advance your own career. Start by joining local and online Product Management groups to widen your network. Women in Product is a great community—they’ve built a great following since its start in 2016 with more than 14,000 members and 35 chapters around the world. Look for groups like this that have a range of career levels and members that hold leadership roles. Check out their review of our virtual panel.

Watch the webinar on how women in PM can get recognition

As Product Managers, we all hope that if we work hard and do a good job, the rewards—recognition, bonuses, promotion—will follow. Sadly, recent studies show women are not achieving the same level of success as men in many fields, including technology, science, academia, and venture capital. Watch the recent webinar on-demand, No Bragging Required: How Women in PM Can Get the Recognition They Deserve to learn how to curb the barriers and implement important strategies to gain recognition from Product Leaders so you can stand out from the crowd.

Final Takeaway

The full virtual panel recording is available to you. We hope the stories and tips in it will encourage you and more women to pursue this career with the confidence to succeed. Product Management is meaningful work and allows you to drive new and innovative products into the market that better serve the customer. High-performing organizations value the contribution and direction that effective Product Managers bring to the company—and the bottom line. Take advantage of our expert panel, and learn what you can do today to blaze your own trail, and deliver the products that matter.


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