The art of creating order out of chaos and feeling comfortable with change. Get to know how to organize teams and adapt to new needs in a changing environment!
Tell us about you and your family. What are you passionate about? Do you have any hobbies?
Cristy: Because my dad was in the Navy we moved around a lot when I was little, and I think that’s why I tend to be so comfortable in situations in which there’s a lot of change. I laugh now when I think about the fact that my two daughters (Mirabel, aged 9, and Amelia, aged 5) have lived in the same two-mile area their entire lives.
I’m passionate about science and creativity, both of which feed into my love for textile arts and oceanography.
Tricia: I grew up in Detroit, Michigan, the birthplace of the modern automobile, electronic and Motown music, and the Boston cooler. After some stints down the east coast, I finally landed in Seattle, Washington. Some might call it inevitable as I am a serious coffee snob and even own the same model of coffee maker (handmade in the Netherlands) as the second best coffee taster in the world.
As a woman in tech, I have firsthand experience being part of an underrepresented group. Because of that, I am passionate about helping other underrepresented folks find their voices. For the past three years, one of the ways I have been doing that is by co-organizing a summer camp for 8th and 9th-grade girls, transgender, and gender non-conforming youth, called App Camp for Girls, in which we teach campers all the aspects of app development in a week. Our main goal is to help them gain confidence so that when they walk into high school STEM classes ( Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) classes, they can sit down and feel like they have a right to be there.
The hobby question is always really hard for me, as I seek out new experiences regularly. So I suppose you could call me a jack-of-all-trades, and a master of none? At one point in my youth, I even kept a blog in which I would go out every Saturday at 2p and do something I had never done before, then write about my experience. If you’re feeling stuck in the world, I’d recommend trying it out for yourself!
How did you become part of Globant’s team?
C: I’m here because of Tricia! I heard her speak at an event hosted by General Assembly, where she also teaches, and what she said really resonated with me. So we had coffee, and within another month I’d joined L4 Digital, which had just been acquired by Globant.
T: I was looking for my next adventure and the awesome folks at L4 Digital decided I could bring a lot of value to the team. I loved the idea of helping to build a product team and working with lots of different clients to help them solve their big customer problems. Then Globant acquired us, and the product team I get to help build and the clients we get to help got bigger!
How have you built your career path so far?
C: It’s been a long and winding road. Among other things, I was a ballroom dance instructor and a jewelry salesperson before I started working in technology. I built my career by constantly learning and growing, and bringing human-centered and data-driven behaviors into the organizations with which I’ve worked.
T: My superpower is the ability to create order out of chaos. (If you need help organizing your closet, I can help!) Because of this, I have often been the first product manager on a team working to create the foundation for what the team and product organization will become. As time has gone on, I’ve transformed that skill into teaching and coaching new product managers and teams. I started teaching at General Assembly in Seattle two years ago and am now building out the Product Coaching practice here at Globant.
How has Globant’s culture positively influenced your job?
C: I love how driven Globers are! Everyone is really committed to doing the best for the client, and makes it happen.
T: The culture has enabled me to nurture my skills, as well as my passion for teaching and empowering others to do their best work. I’m excited about taking Product Coaching to our clients and to our new product managers in the Studio online; hopefully, one day, I’ll be able to lead Product Coaching in person. At the heart of it, I care a lot about people, and teaching has allowed me to help others build empathy for all the people involved in the products we build: development teams, business stakeholders and partners, and users.
Over the years and after all the technological changes that have been made, how has your worked changed?
C: I think the evolution of my job over the years is due more to changes in process and approach rather than changes in the underlying technology. As a product manager, most of what I do is about uncovering unmet needs, and collaborating with people across the organization. The technology used to meet those needs may change, but basic human nature doesn’t. I am enjoying the recent focus on responsiveness and agility, which the technology industry as a whole has embraced and is spreading out to other industries.
T:The changes in technology haven’t influenced my job much at all. My role is to help teams understand which user problems are worth solving, and to empower and help them make decisions about how to solve them. As technology changes, our solutions to problems may change, and users may even have problems with those solutions, but people are motivated by factors that occur regardless of technology. And those factors are what product managers focus on.
Which five qualities should an expert in your field have?
- Good reflective listening skills.
- A flexible communication style.
- The ability to feel comfortable questioning assumptions.
- Constantly asking questions.
- The ability to clearly see the potential future for the product they’re working on, both to bring the team along on the journey to making it a reality, and to try to anticipate unintended consequences.
- Listening. Product managers need to spend way more time listening than talking.
- Empathy. At the end of the day, building software is about people—teams, stakeholders, and users. We have to be able to hold space for all of these people at the same time.
- Style-flexing. Since we communicate with all sorts of people, we need to be able to meet them where they are in their communication styles so that we can understand why they think and behave as they do.
- The ability to make decisions easily. Most of what we do is to take in information (recommendations from our teams, user motivations and frustrations, and business goals, to name a few) and help teams move forward. We need to easily be able to determine what to do next if we have very little information or if we have a whole lot of information.
- Trusting. Product managers don’t build products. We have a team of people we collaborate with who do that. We have to be able to trust that they are experts at what they do, that they are proceeding with positive intent, and that our team has the skill or will obtain the skill to solve the problem at hand.
What recommendations would you give someone that wants to join your team?
C: Email me—I’d love to chat about it!
Tricia: Each person is different. In classic product manager style, I don’t pass out solutions until I understand the problem. So reach out if you want to chat about what you can do to be successful in this role and on this team. I’d love to help anyone interested in figuring out the path to success.