This week we continue our series of interviews with product managers, trying to get at what draws people to the profession and how to excel in it.
Next up is Amit Erental, another of our product managers at Outbrain working on our Engage for publishers content discovery platform.
Q: How did you become a PM?
A: I started my career as a software engineer. During the last few years of my engineering role, I was working very closely with various customers. I found myself more and more attracted to how they interacted with a product, and understanding how a product solves business needs.
When the opportunity to become an inbound product manager for a new group presented itself, I jumped on it.
Q: What’s product management to you? what are the most important things to do as a product manager?
A: To me, product management is the process of transforming market needs and opportunities into a ‘wow effect’ products.
It’s important to stay ahead of the curve with market knowledge, listen and learn from customers, partners, and engineers.
As well as that, you have to possess the ability to create a vision and provide a crystal clear message to all the various participants in the product building process.
Q: What are you most passionate about in product management?
A: I am passionate about that magical moment when a customer sees a demo and says, “Wow, can I use it?” That’s a true product/market fit to me.
The process might be challenging, but the result is always worth it.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: The team, which is a group of truly inspiring and sharp product people, constant changing of business and technology environments, and the endless learning and impact opportunities.
I always like to re-imagine products and solutions in today’s markets, especially opportunities with technology, and often think about how I can meet and fulfill the needs that exist there as a product manager.
Q: What’s the most important thing you’ve learned while at Outbrain?
A: Despite the fact that content nowadays is being consumed in different formats, via various devices and on many platforms, people are still looking for the next piece of content that is most interesting for them.
As a product manager, once I learned that the need for content is fundamental, I started focusing on helping people discover that next piece of interesting content for them, wherever they are, whatever device they are using, and whether or not they prefer text or video.
Q: When hiring, what are the main qualities you look for in a product manager?
A: Hunger for learning, ability to impact, versatility, and excellent communication skills.
Q: What resources do you recommend for learning how to get better as a PM?
A: I would recommend investing time in learning and engaging with others. Read your industry leaders’ blogs, listen to podcasts, watch webinars, etc. Once you focus on the most important sources, this activity will keep you up-to-date in a constant changing world.
Engage with other product management professionals from your industry and other industries. Attending meetups and conferences is an amazing way to learn and to know great people that will help you to become a better PM.
If you have questions you’d like me to ask in an upcoming interview, please leave them in the comments.