Q&A with Expert Product Managers: Tom Padula from SiriusXM
Welcome to the sixth installation of our product management interview series, where successful product managers across various verticals share where the PM industry is going, how to overcome challenges, and general advice. If you missed our last interview with Ethan Hollinshead from Strava, we recommend giving it a read, as well!
As mobile engagement continues to increase, companies across all industries have shifted product strategy to push their mobile experience toward the top. The product management world has gone mobile, and PMs have had to adjust to strategic changes big and small.
To explore what’s changed and what’s next for product managers, we’re bringing you the best minds in product management to share their thoughts on what’s top-of-mind, and where the industry is going.
Today, we’re excited to bring you thoughts from Tom Padula, Senior Product Manager at SiriusXM. Here’s what Tom had to say!
Q: How did you get into product management?
I started my career as an account manager in a small digital advertising firm. I loved the technology side of the business, though I knew staying in client services long term wasn’t for me.
In 2012, I was offered a role as the Head of Product for an entertainment startup run by one of my former clients. I jumped on the opportunity since it was a dream job: hire your own team of designers and developers and build an entertainment app from scratch. Though the company didn’t take off, I learned a ton during my three years working on that project and it helped me get to where I am today.
Q: How do you think mobile product managers’ roles in the organization are changing?
Everyday, I feel like another person in our company is reaching out to the product team for advice. I think product people are becoming known as the experts, the ones who can help drive design, engineering, marketing, and even content decisions.
Being a product manager is no longer just about being able to manage a JIRA board and accept tickets; product managers are looked at more and more like strategists and are getting involved in more facets of the overall business.
Q: What are the biggest challenges you face as a mobile PM? How do you overcome them?
As much as the PM is the lead on a project, one of the hardest things is to relinquish control when appropriate. We need to remember to let the head of design make the design decisions and the tech lead make the tough calls when it comes to building complex code.
For me, I like to provide my opinion or recommendations in certain areas, but always try to remember to let the ultimate decision lie with the heads of each department.
Q: What’s one piece of advice you want to give to other mobile PMs?
Don’t let the naysayer customers unnerve you. There will always be people unhappy with any product. The goal of a PM is to fix the top issues that exist within your product while always building new features that delight users.
Q: What are you looking ahead to in 2018?
For my current project at SiriusXM, I’m really excited to wow our customers with some great new features and functionality we are planning to launch this year. Our mobile products have come a long way recently, and we’re about to make even bigger strides into current and future technology in 2018.
On a personal note, I can’t wait for more and more things in my house to become automated. I’m already on board with connected thermostats, cameras, sound systems, and lighting controls. I can’t wait until I can walk into a room of my house and the technology will know exactly what I want to do there.
Q: What’s your favorite way to stay up to date on all things product management?
Admittedly, I’m not a huge reader of online publications; I like to try and live it instead.
I use tons of apps and always think about what I like and don’t like. I stay current on many social platforms and try to be aware of the latest gadgets and gizmos that are changing peoples’ lives.
Lastly, I’m always asking other co-workers and friends about JIRA tips and tricks. I think I learn something new you can do every week!
Q: With no resource constraints, if I could work on any app, it would be [fill in the blank]. Why?
For me, I’m a power eBay user. I like to buy and sell guitars and guitar parts. I have many ideas on how to improve and simplify the complex marketplace that is eBay and I would love to get my hands on that app.
Q: I feel [fill in the blank] without my smartphone.
Just fine, because my Apple Watch is now connected to the internet on its own. ;-)
Q: Android or iOS?
I’m admittedly an Apple fanboy and have been since I got my first iPod around 2003. However, I am always carrying an array of iPhones, iPads, Android phones, and Android tablets and trying to understand the pros and cons of each.
Q: What does customer love mean to you?
When customers love your product, they become ambassadors. There’s nothing better than someone using your app everyday and trying to get their friends and family to do the same.
A huge thank you to Tom for taking the time to share his thoughts. Stay tuned for the next interview soon, and check out our first four interviews from these expert PMs: