Product manager (Product owner)

Experience: 2+ years

Keywords: e-commerce, localisation, tooling, a/b testing, insights management; agile, OKRs, KPIs, team’s health, backlog grooming, stakeholder management, ROI, roadmap, Jira, Trello, Scrum, Kanban


There is no such thing as “just a technical problem”. Every problem that you encounter while developing software eventually hinders user experience, or a business need, or — most likely — both.

As a product manager, I actively listen to all stakeholders. I ask the right questions and challenge every assumption. You might think that as a user (manager, colleague) you really need a feature X. My job is to understand what it is that you really desire — and in most cases, it is solving an issue Y. It can be done by doing X, sure, but also A, B, C and D. My job is to figure out which way is the best for this particular situation we’re in.

Once I have a full picture, I break it down into smaller tasks, develop a living plan and start working on it with my team. I make sure that the process is clear and transparent for anyone even remotely affected by our work, and that team members — developers, designers, writers, analysts etc — can do what they do best without being bothered by constant meetings and coordination with stakeholders.

Keeping everyone up to date is the key to being successful and respected by your peers.

Aspects of the job

When you are working on a product, there is a bunch of functions that need to be fulfilled so that your team (or squad, or maybe you have a different name there) could do its job.

  • Team dynamics. The team works well together, with healthy conflict, common vision and enough trust.
  • Product vision. There is a north star, or a dream, that guides all the small things the team is doing on a daily basis.
  • Backlog grooming. Daily tasks need to be clearly documented, prioritised, assigned, and eventually done. Doesn’t matter if you work in sprints, if you have daily standups, if you use task management tools or if all you have is an email and a slack channel.
  • Stakeholder management. Colleagues, users, managers, C-suite, third parties, contractors… unless you are starting from scratch on a remote island you have at least some stakeholders. You need to make sure that their needs are taken into account, that you are not reinventing the wheel, that you go along with the company vision and its business targets.

I work best when I am in on the vision. I am in on the vision if I take an active part in developing it, even better if I own it.

Where is your certificate?

Here it is: I am a proud holder of Professional Scrum Product Owner I certificate. I got STAP-budget from the Dutch government to cover the costs. But here is the thing: I don’t think having the certificate or taking the courses made me a better professional.

Scrum, Agile, Waterfall, Lean Six Sigma, RACI, OKRs, sprint reviews, acceptance criteria, Jira, trello… are just tools in a box. And tools work best when the one using them knows the end goal and is able to choose the right ones for the purpose rather than just following a manual.

I use whatever method or practice can get us to the result the fastest, safest and friendliest way. If I don’t know of any, I research, talk and brainstorm — and so far I have always found something to work with.