Micro-Interview: Stanislava Baltova, Lead Product Owner

EDITOR’S NOTE:

Stanislava Baltova is a Lead Product Owner at SAP, a giant in enterprise software and services. 

In 2014, she made the transition from engineering to product management to connect the dots between the two.

In under 500 words, Stanislava shares: 

  • What she wished she knew before going into product management…
  • Lessons learned from her biggest product fail…
  • How to become proficient in anything…

And more…  

Enjoy!


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“How did you get into product management?”

I was working as a software developer and needed a career change. I evaluated my strengths with the help of coaching. I had always wanted to see the business value of our products, to answer the question of “why” we were doing what we were doing, to connect the dots, and see the bigger picture. At that time there was an opening for a Product Owner at my company resonating very well with my strengths and aspirations. I applied and here I am.

“How do you start your mornings at work?”

I am a coffee lover, so coffee first, then tasks for the day, and email.

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

Put “why” over routine execution of product increments, and build your own vision on how the product should evolve in the future. Empower yourself and don’t limit your thinking to your immediate responsibilities. Always strive to see the big picture as you might reach solutions that you have never foreseen. Build a network of valuable people around you, as the best products are born while pushing together with a diverse crowd. Guess what, you are not the smartest person in the room. 😀

And my favorite and very simple one is – always strive to understand your customer/stakeholder needs and clearly define the problem that your product solves. You might build the best piece of technology but if it does not solve any problem you will need to scrap it.

“What did your biggest product failure teach you?”

There have been many failures along the way, and I learned a lot from every one of them. Maybe the biggest lesson I learned is that any product, no matter how successful it is, eventually declines. So it should constantly evolve, and the role of the Product Manager is to drive this evolution further.

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

I attended training for Product roles and then started leading the training myself, teaching other people how to execute the role successfully. This gave me great clarity on what the job is and a broader view of what other people in the same role are experiencing with respect to best practices and challenges.

A piece of advice: teaching something is making you more and more proficient at it.

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

I never stop learning, I read technology and market trends, I learn from peers, and I always try to incorporate something new into my work.