Micro-Interview: Ana Kermekchieva, PdMO Director


Ana Kermekchieva is a Product Management Office Director at SoftServe – a product management and software development consultancy.

Ana has been instrumental in building the company’s internal product management competencies.

In under 500 words, Ana shares: 

  • How she raised her hand and became a PM without prior experience…
  • A useful technique on how to start your day as a PM…
  • Some of her learning resources (see this comment)

And more…  


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“How did you get into product management?”

By chance. Back then, it was not common or popular at all.

I was studying telecommunications and wanted to work in a telco. I applied for a summer internship and later on was hired as a specialist. After some time, my work became relatively routine. At that moment, the Product manager in our unit was about to go on maternity leave. I remember how impressed I was by her role, without even fully understanding the scope. On a daily basis, she was communicating with more people than I did in a year.

Instead of looking for a temporary replacement on the external market, my manager agreed to give me a chance, as I was already aware of the domain and the organization.

“How do you start your mornings at work?”

By checking my Bullet journal. A few years ago, a colleague shared the technique with me, and I am taking full advantage of it ever since. It helps me keep focus, prioritize my tasks and organize my activities in a systematic manner.

I also check my mailbox and if something can be crosschecked quickly, prefer to do so, I hate being a bottleneck for others.

“What do you know about product management now that you wish you’d known when you first started?”

That failure is an option, and it is not so scary. Especially when you are at the early stage of your professional development. Taking a risk is always worth it – even if all you will get is a harsh lesson.

“What did your biggest product failure teach you?”

The world will keep turning, so we must stand up and regain our confidence. To do so, we need to analyze the root cause and, if something was on us, identify how to improve ourselves, and what we can change in our behavior to prevent it from happening again.

“What’s the #1 thing that has helped you shorten your product management learning curve?”

I believe I have a gift for easily communicating with different people and learning from them. I think a massive part of our success as Product managers lies in the so-called “soft skills” and storytelling. Calibration of expectations also helps a lot.

“How do you stay updated on the best practices in product management?”

There are so many materials nowadays, I am not evangelizing one specific source, nor am I focusing on product management labels only. I rather prefer holistic knowledge on diverse topics from various sources (some links can be found in the comments here). 

In the last few years, I have observed my increasing usage of video blogs and audio podcasts. The latter is quite convenient while commuting.

Great examples and approaches to improving product work can come from many areas – CM, CX, technology, and finance if you wish.

For my personal growth, I have built a mindmap with areas I consider should be further improved and try to fill them in step by step.