Clara Lee

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VP, Product & Operations (WooCommerce), Automattic
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Clara Lee
Clara Lee
VP, Product & Operations (WooCommerce), AutomatticJuly 25
I'm actually curious if this is widespread, as I've not seen in current or previous Product roles analytical skills being considered more valuable than UX...  While analytical skills are important for looking at customer data in aggregate and prioritizing problems by impact, UX skills help PMs dig into the "why" and "how" our customers think and operate. It's a balance: We don't want PMs that "hide behind the numbers," nor do we want PMs that entirely base roadmaps on a handful of customer interviews / limited qualitative feedback.
Clara Lee
Clara Lee
VP, Product & Operations (WooCommerce), AutomatticJuly 25
I’ve worked in Product across two very different contexts – a company that favored complete alignment versus a company where autonomy was part of their cultural DNA.  While there are a lot factors that contribute to retention (industry trends, opportunities for career progression, compensation), the factors in my daily focus are derived from this definition of psychological safety: * Meaning – company vision, team purpose, individual contribution, and belonging. * Mastery – goals and accountability, periodic feedback, recognition, and opportunities to teach/mentor others. * Tru...
Clara Lee
Clara Lee
VP, Product & Operations (WooCommerce), AutomatticJuly 25
Sharp communication skills that enable proactive stakeholder management. This doesn't just mean blasting memos and updates to everyone, everywhere – it means:  * Speaking about what matters to who;  * Understanding what is the right timing; * And knowing which channels are most effective for getting your point across.  In some organizations, you may be lucky enough to have a Product Operations team to help you with that; in others, you won't. Leaning into comms and stakeholder management means:  * Risks are assessed early; * Issues requiring help are unblocked; * Expectations ar...
Clara Lee
Clara Lee
VP, Product & Operations (WooCommerce), AutomatticJuly 25
Having worked in Product in completely opposite contexts, the most valuable soft and hard skills depend on several factors, including product maturity, organizational maturity, availability of supporting functions (e.g., Product Operations, Product Analysts, etc.), and company cultural norms.  At WooCommerce/Automattic, the expectations I set for PMs are: 1. Drive the creation and execution of product strategy for your focus area. 2. Lead multi-disciplinary teams through the development process. 3. Cultivate direct connections with our customers. 4. Increase our success in aiding ou...
Clara Lee
Clara Lee
VP, Product & Operations (WooCommerce), AutomatticMarch 21
One way to get Engineering excited about customer focus is to invite them to listen in on interviews. We post all customer interviews on a shared calendar and use webinar settings that ensure observers hopping on / off are not disruptive to the participant or moderator. We also run an internal back-channel where observers can discuss responses or suggest follow-up questions. Often, I see that hearing directly from individual customers drives a level of engagement for Engineers that is much higher than if they were merely reading a written summary of aggregate responses at the end of a study...
Clara Lee
Clara Lee
VP, Product & Operations (WooCommerce), AutomatticMarch 21
There are many great approaches to this question – and to some extent, it will depend on what the company values. If you're a first Product Manager, it is most important that customer needs / expectations are at the forefront of any framework.  With my teams, I sometimes like to use a graph, where one of the axes represents customer impact (how much does this product or feature postively improve their lives?) and the other maps effort or investment. That will give you an easy 2x2 where there is a clear set of high impact, low effort/investment things that represent quick wins. You'll als...
Clara Lee
Clara Lee
VP, Product & Operations (WooCommerce), AutomatticMarch 21
To me, the first 90 days are all about communication with your new team and cross-functional partners – even more so if you're setting up the Product Management function for the first time. Treat your communications a bit like internal marketing for PM (and yourself), meaning they should be tailored to your audiences, showcase how your PM skills create value for the team, and address potential concerns head-on. The first 30 days are your time to listen and learn. Spend time with Engineering and Design to observe team dynamics and collaboration styles. Also talk with Marketing, Sales, Dat...
Clara Lee
Clara Lee
VP, Product & Operations (WooCommerce), AutomatticMarch 21
The biggest surprise was how hard it was to convince others that Product Leads / Product Managers would be an asset to the team. This sentiment was more common among those who had been at Automattic and WooCommerce for several years, and perhaps not worked with a Product Lead / Product Manager before. The questions I heard included: * Would this role add an extra administrative layer? A: It's actually a new type of work that would help us ensure what we build meets users' needs.  * Shouldn't Engineering and Design do this work? A: They are certainly capable, but it can sometimes...
Clara Lee
Clara Lee
VP, Product & Operations (WooCommerce), AutomatticMarch 21
The product organization at WooCommerce is organized by merchant needs: * Start: Merchant onboarding, from the moment they click the CTA on WooCommerce.com to when their store is ready to sell. * Manage: Back-end and admin tasks including product catalog, order management, and settings. * Grow: Spreading the word about their products and business via sales and marketing channels like Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Pinterest. We have native channel integrations that merchants can attach to their stores that help facilitate pushing products and offers. * Email: This is wher...
Clara Lee
Clara Lee
VP, Product & Operations (WooCommerce), AutomatticOctober 4
In the cases where a Product Manager has consistently challenged your work beyond regular constructive collaboration, I have found the following tactics useful: * Realign on company/product goals and strategy. It's possible that there's a gap in understanding or alignment that explains the pushback. * Share your work and point of view more widely (beyond the Product team). This can be tricky depending on the organization, but sometimes, getting having your work seen by others can inspire renewed consideration. * Ask for direct, 1:1 feedback. Because sometimes, it's may not be r...
Credentials & Highlights
VP, Product & Operations (WooCommerce) at Automattic
Product Marketing AMA Contributor
Lives In Remote
Knows About Pricing and Packaging, Analyst Relationships, Self-Serve Product Marketing, Stakehold...more