Women in Product Conference 2020
Resilience. That’s been the theme of 2020, and the same message was resonated throughout the three day Women in Product Conference. Women in Product hosted their annual product-focused conference, bringing together current and future product leaders from across the world to share their insights and learnings.
While a virtual conference doesn’t give the same in-person networking experience and feel, Women in Product did a phenomenal job of creating different types of sessions to increase interactions. This year’s conference included keynotes, breakouts, interactive sessions in a virtual environment, making it easy to join different sessions and connect with other attendees in the chat.
Three main themes that highly resonated with me this year were:
- Working through Ambiguity, while being resilient to change
- Building your Career
- Smarter Product Design
Working through Ambiguity, while being resilient to change
There is no single definition of what a Product Manager role entails. This can dramatically change from company to company, or even within a single organization. COVID-19 only brought on more ambiguity, both personally and professionally.
“Resilience is standing up and taking action, even when there aren’t solutions or it’s uncomfortable. Resilience is not enduring and waiting for the hard time to pass, it’s looking for the solution and being a part of it.” — Sunita Parbhu, Head of Product at CVKey
With her team, Sunita developed a novel, much needed COVID-specific application that assesses the risk of COVID while maintaining privacy . Due to the sensitivity and privacy requirements of the data, she had to approach building a product without any user data coming back to shape the future of the product. This is an uncomfortable way to build a product, but what you are working on has to come down to the meaning.
Through the ambiguity, lead with ambition and empathy. Alexandra Hardiman of the New York Times said it best. Take a stand and have resilience. Being unafraid, honest, and generous all matter for a strong and fearless future. Being transparent will lead to less ambiguity.
Building your Career
Your career is in your hands. It’s important to lean into your strengths and participate in conversations that challenge your point of view. It’s also important to not just make connections, but make better and deeper connections. Using 1–1 meetings, LinkedIn or Meetups, find a common point for connection and use that as the base for conversation. It’s okay to cold email people but make sure to personalize that reach-out, so they know why you selected them.
Some key learnings
- Pick a place to work where you love the mission, have the passion, and connect with the purpose. Being fearless and bold in whatever you do may not always lead you to success, but will provide growth opportunities and learning lessons.
- Be intentional with your brand. While you don’t build your own brand, you can influence it by being intentional in the actions you take to shape it.
- Find that north star that you are working towards, and build your vision to that. Committing to frequent actions and being intentional with your goals will lead you to achieving your ultimate vision.
As a result of the WIP conference, what actions have you taken. What connections have you made, that you will leverage to build your career?
Some helpful resources:
- Living your life fully and authentically. Check out Nataliya Becker’s workbook on investing in yourself.
- Deep Work by Cal Newport
- Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
- Get a visual representation of your job responsibilities via the PM Daisy framework.
- Take the 5-step VP challenge to growing your career
Smarter Product Design
“Innovators realize that answers can be complex, but the answers exist.” Lindsay Jaurez of Irrational Labs walked through a series of examples showing how looking at a problem from a different angle and studying human decision making can help to close the Intention Action Gap. Utilizing their 3B Framework that focuses on identifying key behaviors, reducing behaviors and amplifying benefits will lead to a design that focuses on both the short term engagement and long term benefits.
Check out the following resources to help you be more intentional in your future product designs:
- The “How I Built This” podcast features Duolingo in an episode, highlighting how they optimized defaults and design to improve user engagement
- Growth.Design’s newsletter provides monthly case studies to improve your product skills
- Irrational Labs Methodology and bootcamp
I thoroughly enjoyed attending this conference for the second time, and had the opportunity to connect with motivated, confident women throughout the course of the three days. Thanks for following along. Would love to hear more about your takeaways from the conference and what other useful Product resources you have come across through your Product journey.