Very close runner-up to The Best Product Person of 2010 was Paul Gray. Paul Gray has spent ten years working in the entertainment, media and communications industries within Australia and Europe. Paul worked in both B2B and B2C roles for organizations including Disney, Foxtel, and British Telecom.
In consideration as The Best Product Person of 2010, I interviewed Paul about all aspects of Product Management, from his own career path, to advice, to trends he now sees emerging.
Over the next few weeks I will be sharing portions of this interview. This week, let’s look at the key influencers in his product person journey.
Getting to here…
> What key people helped shape you into the product manager you are today?
I’ve been fortunate to have worked with great people in product management teams as well as those partner business units such as sales, customer service, marketing, engineering and operations. Each has helped provide me with a view of how product management ‘fits in’ to the overall picture and has helped me understand the critical strategic role product managers play in making a product or service successful. Above all however, I would say it’s the customers that I’ve been able to speak to. I’ve worked in B2B roles and B2C so have dealt with everyone from C-Suite executives through to six year old kids. Regardless of who your customer is, I think you gain the most insight, ideas and inspiration from going out and speaking to them. For this reason, I’d say its my customers that have shaped me the most.
> How did you decide to become a product manager?
I think my interest stemmed quite simply as a customer and user of products. I’d often marvel at how bad some products and services were. You’d have a great service let down by a terrible retail experience, or an interesting idea hindered by bad positioning and messaging. Then I noticed a few standout products and services. These were able to deliver their target customer the experience and outcomes that he wanted, and they did it in a way that was original, differentiated and profitable. This made me wonder what part of a business was tasked with this job – and I discovered it was product management.
> What inspires you in your day-to-day work?
Seeing how ingenuity, passion and creative thinking are helping to reshape traditional rules and structures in business, government and communities. With the rise of Web 2.0, we’re seeing new organisations emerge that do things differently, offering products and services that customers have been crying out for years. I think this bridging of ‘the gap’ between product people and customers and really getting to listen to customers and seeing their faces when they’re happy or satisfied make for most of the inspiring elements of my day.
Over the next few weeks I will share more of my interview with Paul Gray, Runner-up to The Best Product Person of 2010, as well as other fascinating product people I met in this journey!
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