Hey Chloe, care to share a little bit about yourself?
I was born and raised in LA county (626 area!!), studied at Columbia University in NYC, lived in South Carolina for a bit, and finally made the move out here to the bay area for the majority of my adult years. During pre-COVID days, I was a regular amateur singer at Martuni's, the showtunes-themed piano bar in SF that's been around for over 24 years. Since I covered mostly Disney songs, the pianist has dubbed me "Princess Chloe" within the community. Aside from that, I recently started a Youtube channel about career, lifestyle, and growth called "Colors of Chloe". I hope to bring a more personal perspective with a fun touch!
Can you tell us what you do as the Product Manager for TikTok for those who are unfamiliar?
I currently work on the Trust and Safety team as a senior PM at TikTok. Our mission is to build a world where people can safely discover, create, and connect.
How did you decide to pursue your specific career?
I've actually tried out many career paths! I worked at Boeing, Google, Caffeine (live streaming startup), Facebook, and now Bytedance/TikTok. Besides working in product, I worked in analytics, operations, business development, and partnerships. Product has always been fascinating, but it wasn't until I was at Caffeine launching my first self-initiated features that I thought this would be a great career path for me.
What made you interested in your field? What do you like about it?
Product management is one of the few IC roles in tech that requires rallying a full team of talented people with all kinds of perspectives to come up with a product idea and launch it from beginning to end. I really enjoy the day-to-day of bringing people together to work on something we couldn't have done as individuals.
Any advice on how to stand out and get hired for those starting off?
This is tough because I've had pretty hit-or-miss experiences. It certainly was challenging breaking into product. If you're thinking about transitioning, depending on what stage of career you're in, it seems to be easier transitioning internally first rather than getting hired at another company into the role. Most hiring managers look for people with direct product experience except for the APM/RPM programs. The next step is to be able to craft a strong career narrative for yourself linking all of your experiences together to paint a full picture of the kind of professional you are. This helps attract recruiters, sponsors, and hiring managers to go to bat for you in your transition.
What are 3 character traits that would make someone excel in your field?
1. Leadership in ambiguous situations
It's been surprising, but as far as I've seen, roles and responsibilities are not always clear cut at any company - big tech or startups. People onboard at different times with different people. Managers and directors don't always have time to put together a clear plan on how teams should operate and collaborate. Reorgs happen so regularly. No one really tells you how to run the team or what to do. They just expect you to do it. Because of that ambiguity, I have a lot of respect for people who step up to the plate to fill those gaps to run the team smoothly.
2. Thoughtful and Thorough problem scoping and solving
This is someone who can think in clear frameworks and does their due diligence in investigating the full situation within those frameworks. It's crafting the user story, pain points, data points, success metrics, solutions, trade-offs, competitive analyses, and the execution plan. A lot of the day-to-day is presenting the product brief or PRD to leadership or other teams for review and approval and getting grilled in the process for every detail, risk, and consideration. Even though the end feature might seem small in comparison to the entire platform, it takes an immense amount of work to roll it out right.
3. Clear communicator
PMs seem to always have fully stacked days meeting with all kinds of cross-functional partners (XFNs) and stakeholders. A strong PM should be able to listen, understand, and communicate each group's pain points and needs to the core team as well as sharing progress updates, blockers, and plans to all stakeholders. It should be on the PM to communicate in a way where everyone involved is on the same page on what's going on.
Most difficult thing about your job?
Honestly, a lot of things are challenging, especially working at a global company. At every company I've ever worked at, it seemed like every project was highly urgent, visible, and needed all hands on deck immediately. But then, if everything is a p0, then nothing is. So perhaps the most difficult thing is to understand and identify the initiatives that should truly be the most important to work on and then convince stakeholders and decision-makers to agree to prioritize them.
What would you like to say to your younger self?
A lot of things, frankly. I'll mix both professional and personal here:
1. Max out your 401K and contribute to a Roth IRA (if you can) right away. It's confusing, but do it.
2. If you think you deserve better in a job but you're not receiving the promotion, opportunity, or validation from your managers or leaders, you do deserve better. You don't need their validation. Put yourself and your career first because no one else will do that for you.
3. People who bring you down or take away from the life you want to live are not worth your time. It's all right to walk away or even call them out. Being kind is not just about making others happy, but making yourself happy as well.
Best advice you've received/heard?
I can't think of exact quotes, but I've been told a few useful things that took me a while to internalize:
1. It's just a job, not your life. It's not the end of the world if things don't work out. It's not personal.
2. Take vacation as much as you can. Take time in between jobs. Time off is more valuable than time on the job.
3. Just ask. Ask for sponsorship, for feedback, for support, for the promotion, for the project, for the opportunity, for the salary even if it's more than you think you deserve right now.
4. No one's ever truly ready.
Any last thoughts, advice, or recommendations for someone who wants to learn more about Product?
• Designing Your Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans - a design methodology to figure out how to live a joyful, fulfilling life.
• Decode and Conquer by Lewis C Lin - Great for understanding how product interviews may go.
I've also just started a cozy newsletter on career development, self-growth, and creative expression. I get a lot of questions in my inbox about these topics and thought it'd be best to bring people together to support one another in our individual journeys. Newsletter Sign-up Here: http://eepurl.com/hpcPCD