Q&A with Expert Product Managers: Lauren Chan Lee from StubHub
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 Tom Padula from SiriusXM, 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 Lauren Chan Lee, the former Lead Product Manager at StubHub. Here’s what Lauren had to say!
Q: How did you get into product management?
When I was on Strategy and Corporate Development team at StubHub, I led the market analysis to determine what market we should go into for our first expansion outside of North America. I recommended that we go into UK as our first global market.
After my pitch was approved, we had no international team hired yet, so I was tapped to work directly with the CEO on getting us to launch. I was so proud to see StubHub UK launch in early 2012, and today we’re in over 40 countries worldwide! Launching UK gave me my first taste of stepping out of a strategic role and into an operating role, and I have never looked back.
Q: How do you think mobile product managers’ roles in the organization are changing?
I think there are two vectors to think about.
First, innovation in mobile is happening at a faster rate than other platforms. There are new features rolled out for the iOS and Android operating systems every year, and you have to think about how you leverage it. There are new interfaces with assistants like Alexa and with chat bots like Facebook Messenger. Mobile PMs have to stay on top of what’s happening in order to understand which technologies make the most sense for their business and are worth investing in.
Second, as mobile continues to gain more share of users’ time and dollars, it’s an ever-increasing part of any company’s product portfolio and more and more companies are adopting a mobile first mindset. Mobile PMs should be ready to lead the end-to-end product vision.
Q: What are the biggest challenges you face as a mobile PM? How do you overcome them?
One of the hardest parts of the job is staying focused on what’s important. You can get pulled in a million directions with lots of different stakeholders that all have ideas on what you should be working on. You get called on to fight fires when a bug rears its ugly head. You’re expected to know the numbers, plan the go-to-market, and work with engineers and designers – all without any direct authority. You can spend all day in meetings and realize that you really didn’t accomplish anything. So, you have to be very judicious on how you’re spending your time and your team’s time. You need to keep your eye on the big picture to make sure you’re driving the important things forward.
Q: What’s one piece of advice you want to give to other mobile PMs?
Know your value add.
I’ve seen three main PM archetypes: engineer turned PM, designer turned PM, and businessperson turned PM. As a member of the latter bucket, I recognize that I could never out-engineer an engineer or out-design a designer. I should have a working understanding of those areas as the product owner, but that’s not my strength. Instead, I leverage my knowledge of our business and customers to better prioritize what features make it onto the roadmap and help my team understand why we’re building those features.
Q: What are you looking ahead to in 2018?
I’m most excited about two tech trends. First, I think we’re going to start to see VR and AR cross the chasm in 2018. There was a ton of hype around these technologies in 2016, then 2017 was relatively quiet, and in 2018, I think we’ll see a lot more apps adopt these technologies as they figure out how to leverage them in a way that drives business.
The other trend that is really taking off are voice assistants like Alexa and Google Home. They’re still in infancy stages now in terms of the skills that they have, but I see them being incredibly useful as their functionality expands. I’d love to see how both VR/AR and voice assistants can be used to assist seniors and people with disabilities access technologies and improve their quality of life.
Q: What’s your favorite way to stay up to date on all things product management?
For product management specifically, the Women in Product group sends a regular newsletter with a list of good product reads that they’ve curated, and you can always start discussions with the community on the Facebook group as well.
I also really like the Inside Intercom blog. They do a great job of sharing their learnings and bringing in guest expertise, too.
Q: With no resource constraints, if I could work on any app, it would be [fill in the blank]. Why?
One cause I’m passionate about is gender equity. According to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2016, we are 170 years away from reaching global gender equality. That’s too long.
I don’t think it’s a pipeline problem in the US: Women are graduating with college degrees and entering the workforce at equal rates as men. In my opinion, it’s a promotion and retention problem, where stereotypes and unconscious bias are hidden forces that hold women back from progressing their careers. I want to see how we can use technology for good to detect these hidden patterns and accelerate the pace towards gender equity.
Q: I feel [fill in the blank] without my smartphone.
I feel naked without my smartphone…or at least like I’m missing an appendage or something.
Q: Android or iOS?
iOS, for sure.
A huge thank you to Lauren for taking the time to share her thoughts. Stay tuned for the next interview soon, and check out our first four interviews from these expert PMs: