Hey Richard, care to share a little bit about yourself?
Hey there 👋🏼 I'm Richard. I'm a Product Operations Manager at Uber based in SF. Lately, you can catch me making a mess in the kitchen copying some recipe from Kenji's Youtube channel or cycling around the city. I love food and drinks so recently, I've been trying to learn a bit more about natural wines.
Can you tell us what you do as a Product Operations Manager at Uber for those who are unfamiliar?
As a Product Operations manager, my goal is to serve as the link between the business and tech functions; ultimately keeping the product team accountable for impacting business metrics. Most of my time is spent working with the Product Manager to figure out what to build and being the voice of the operations teams (external users, sales, customer experience) while picking up tasks like triaging bugs, querying /analyzing data, preparing for product launches by working with cross-functional teams.
Simply put, if in a room full of business folks, I should be the most tech-focused. When in a room full of engineers, I should be the most business oriented.
How did you decide to pursue your specific career? What pivotal moments pushed you to where you are now?
It was by trial and error. After churning through internships, I decided that I had to find a company that I respected; money and role didn't matter at this point. I joined Uber as an entry level grad and from there I was quickly exposed to all the teams that made the company what it is. You'd imagine the company to act as a well-oiled machine but it was just a collective group of smart individuals just trying to make sh** work.
No role was limited to its scope, but people were encouraged to learn about different aspects of the business. All my pivotal moments revolved around reaching out to colleagues and volunteering my time to get involved in projects I was genuinely excited about.
What made you interested in your field?
During my time in undergrad, I found a mentor who was in the process of going through a start-up incubator at YCombinator. She was the breath of fresh air amongst all my friends who were deeply invested in finance. The calls started as simply catching up with a friend, to understanding what she was building, and ultimately asking for advice to get my foot in the door. I was sold. I wanted to build products.
Any advice on how to stand out and get hired for those starting off?
I feel as if I'm relatively early in my career, and so this is to the folks still searching for their first gig:
(1) There's no time to be picky! — A common thread with friends I've chatted with is that we're naturally drawn to more prestigious roles and understandably so. But there's no skipping steps and so find a place that you're willing to invest yourself, learn as much from those around you, and then create a plan to how you'll achieve your ideal role. Like actually, write it down with tangible goals.
(2) Don't put yourself in a time-box. At the end of the day, we have so much time and people figure are constantly figuring things out. The only thing pressuring you is your self pre-scripted timeline.
3 Character traits that would make someone excel in your field
Curiosity. Humility. Grit.
Most difficult thing about your job?
My role is fortunately and unfortunately a catch-all — anything that prevents us from launching a new product is something that I need to figure out. Learning new ways to scale myself is a constant challenge.
What would you like to say to your younger self?
Imposter Syndrome doesn't go away - know your worth!
Best advice you've received/heard?
I think this is something I need to constantly remind myself everyday but invest in the people around you. At the end of the day, we're all human and it's the connections that last, not the company. "People don't care what you know until they know that you care"
Any last thoughts, advice, or recommendations for someone who wants to go into Product Operations?
I think Product roles have the most ambiguous requirements. Aside from the myriad of resources online, find a connection that's in the role you want to be in. Have an agenda ready with all your questions and be intentional to develop that relationship.
Aside from this, continue to sharpen your analytical skills - simple code (Python/Java), writing SQL, excel can go a long way!