Natalia Baryshnikova

AMA: Atlassian Head Of Product Management, Confluence Experience, Natalia Baryshnikova on Developing Your Product Management Career

February 16 @ 10:00am PST

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Product Management Career Path With Natalia Baryshnikova, Head Of Product Management, Confluence Experience at Atlassian Already a member? Sign In
Top Questions
How do early career PM's proactively learn about skills that take them to the next level. How do they develop them.
Natalia Baryshnikova
Head Of Product Management, Confluence Experience at Atlassian
First thing I'd recommend is asking your team if there is a formal description of levels and skills associated with each level. More and more companies, whether large orgs or startups, actually have written descriptions of product manager levels and what those entail; the earlier you get to learn...more
I’ve heard that the jump from Sr. PM to the “next level” (e.g Group PM) often comes with a steep learning curve. Is that true, and how would one prepare to solidify the right foundation to ease the transition preemptively?
Natalia Baryshnikova
Head Of Product Management, Confluence Experience at Atlassian
The biggest struggle I have observed is related to transition from an individual level product craft growth to growing that of a group. Andy Grove in High Output Management said "Managers are responsible for increasing the output of their organizations and neighboring organizations they influence...more
There are different frameworks to prioritize the product backlog. How practical is the use of such frameworks? How to manage top management expectations?
Natalia Baryshnikova
Head Of Product Management, Confluence Experience at Atlassian
Ultimately, prioritization comes down to a chain of decisions. Regardless of the framework that you use, the question I see folks overlooking a lot is "who is the right person to make this decision". Is that you, the PM? Is that your manager? Or maybe, if the work relates to security vulnerabilit...more
What do you think is top 3 skills a PM should have acquired to move to director level?
Natalia Baryshnikova
Head Of Product Management, Confluence Experience at Atlassian
1. Storytelling. You need to be able to tie many disparate pieces of product work - user needs, business goals, technical limitaitons, competitive landscape, innovation opportunities - into a coherent, compelling narrative. A director can fill in the blanks in the following sentences with ease: "...more
How do you sell 'no, not now' to stakeholders?
Natalia Baryshnikova
Head Of Product Management, Confluence Experience at Atlassian
There are three aspects to selling this well:  1. Empathy. You have to start with acknowledging the validity of a need or ask. Folks often skip that step and go straight to rebuttal. Don't do that - you need to empathize with the stakeholder, understand where they are coming from and really pond...more
How do you manage the 1000 questions and tasks that are shot at you when you are a PM in an early stage startup?
I'm the first PM in a startup that used to be sales led. I'm trying to set up the proper discovery processes, prioritization tactics and strategy, but I find that extremely hard to do as I'm getting carried away in the day-to-day tasks around requests, issues reported and project management.
Natalia Baryshnikova
Head Of Product Management, Confluence Experience at Atlassian
Startups are all about speed. To move fast, you need to know where you are going (aka what to be ruthlessly focused on) and allocate the most of your time/energy to that. Easier said than done, right? One thing that helped a lot in my early startup days was my framework of "One thing I am going t...more
What should you do if your Manager is not helping you grow and you see little growth opportunities? Should you stay at the job and try to learn as much as possible or should you definitely leave the company and look for a new opportunity?
How much time should you give a job and a manager to see if they are a fit in your growth and career?
Natalia Baryshnikova
Head Of Product Management, Confluence Experience at Atlassian
First thing to do is to check with your manager how they think about your growth. They may be thinking that they are helping you, and it is just your perspectives that are misaligned. Ask them about their definition next level of growth for you (see answer above about growing skills for details),...more
What's a typical career path for a product manager?
Natalia Baryshnikova
Head Of Product Management, Confluence Experience at Atlassian
There is a fork in the PM career path road: one is becoming a people manager, the other becoming an expert in a deep thinking product area sans managing a team.  My recommendation is to figure out which one is right for you. Many folks want to jump into management simply because they think this ...more
What framework do you use when assessing a new opportunity at a different company?
Natalia Baryshnikova
Head Of Product Management, Confluence Experience at Atlassian
First, like to work on problems that I am passionate about. I love to learn and make impact in areas that I think, pardon high brow speak, will make the world a better place. One such area of passion for me is helping people and teams achieve more through working together. I never even considered...more
What are the biggest frustrations you have as a product manager?
Natalia Baryshnikova
Head Of Product Management, Confluence Experience at Atlassian
Being patient when I would like to be impatient. Product management is deeply humbling in that good things often take time. I like to say that I am "tactically impatient, strategically patient" - as in, obsess over small details and steps every day and treat them with urgency, but know that thing...more
If I don't want to be a CPO or GM, what future executive role should I be shooting for as a PM?
Natalia Baryshnikova
Head Of Product Management, Confluence Experience at Atlassian
I see a lot of PMs succeeding in startegy and operaitons roles. I have been tapped a few times for COO / Strategy & BizOps / Chief of Staff types roles because of the product background. Your ability to understand and connect the dots across business and customers, as well as manage stakeholders,...more
What is your favorite product management interview question and the best answer you've heard?
Natalia Baryshnikova
Head Of Product Management, Confluence Experience at Atlassian
"Assume I don't know anything. Teach me something in the next two minutes about a topic you are passionate about - can be anything". This questions helps me understand how a person thinks on their feet, does storytelling, and uncover more about their passions as a human, that may have some intere...more
What's the best way to break into the tech industry as a product manager?
Natalia Baryshnikova
Head Of Product Management, Confluence Experience at Atlassian
Two ways. First sweet spot is to pick a mid-size startup (round B or C) that is growing. They need folks all the time, and they need folks who can roll up their sleeves and do things. The roles you join in does not matter as much - if you prove yourself as a doer, you can later transition into a ...more
How can a enterprise architect transition into PM role? What mindset change is required?
Natalia Baryshnikova
Head Of Product Management, Confluence Experience at Atlassian
In short, you have to go from being a thinker to being a doer. The biggest mindset change is about learning when to stop with the analysis and transition into acting on things, in sometimes imperfect data coverage situation, and because of that imperfect coverage, how to experiment and iterate. G...more
What metrics do you use to justify a pay raise?
Natalia Baryshnikova
Head Of Product Management, Confluence Experience at Atlassian
At Atlassian, we look at multiple pillars of value PMs bring to the organization: delivering outcomes (think - moving business KRs and goals), leadership (inspiring others), communication, helping others grow product craft and so on.  I really love this framework. My recommendation is to first a...more
How to make a career change to PM?
Any tips, strategy, success stories?
Natalia Baryshnikova
Head Of Product Management, Confluence Experience at Atlassian
See my answer above on breaking into tech as a PM for one of the options. Another option, if you are a mid-to-senior career professional is to build ties with your product team internally. Product leaders need good folks all the time; I have facilitated multiple secondments of folks from other de...more