Rodrigo Davies

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Product Management Area Lead, Asana
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Rodrigo Davies
Rodrigo Davies
Product Management Area Lead, AsanaMay 17

I transitioned from journalism to product management earlier in my career, and although it’s not a straightforward path, it’s actually pretty common for PMs to join tech from other sectors. An Asana PM teammate of mine, Ari Janover, actually has the best articulation of how to make the transition that I’ve ever heard. He says there are three common paths:

  • The Ninja: Join a small startup as another role and push to own PM work until you become a PM.
  • The Expert: Apply for roles where the value of your specific knowledge trumps your lack of PM credentials. Think Engineers for technical products or a real estate agent for a real estate tool.
  • The Hail Mary: Follow the few PM Apprenticeships that don’t require previous experience (learn more about AsanaUp here).

I followed the Expert path when starting out, and I’ve seen it work quite well in early-stage companies. One of the biggest challenges in starting in an early-stage company, though, is that you’re often the first or only PM, so although you have lots of things to learn, you may have fewer people to learn from. I spent a lot of time observing and learning from PMs at other companies and building up a group of folks I could exchange ideas and challenges with, and this is a practice I still find incredibly useful today.

Rodrigo Davies
Rodrigo Davies
Product Management Area Lead, AsanaMay 17

For me the biggest differentiator is having a growth mindset. This doesn't just mean they want to make an impact and improve as a PM. For me it comes down to three things:

  1. They have a sense of what they know and don't know, and are always eager to learn more. They question their own assumptions.
  2. They're humble and curious in trying to figure out what they don't know and leverage the expertise of others.
  3. They frequently seek feedback from others and try to challenge themselves, not just to achieve more but to be a better colleague and partner to others.
Rodrigo Davies
Rodrigo Davies
Product Management Area Lead, AsanaMay 17
  • I get frustrated whenever I hear business outcomes and customer outcomes described as two forces that are in tension, and that it’s necessary to choose between either building a fantastic product or having a fantastic business. It’s certainly possible to have a highly profitable business with a shoddy product, but I believe that the advantage that organizations gain by going that path is short term, and that eventually a poor product experience will erode trust and lead customers to move on to better products.
  • This is especially common in new product / technology areas, where some companies optimize everything around being the first to launch something in order to capture the so-called first mover advantage and build a moat. Looking back on the last few software innovation cycles, there are many examples of where the second, third or even fourth product to market was the eventual winner, by prioritizing nailing the customer experience and learning from others’ mistakes, over pure speed.
Rodrigo Davies
Rodrigo Davies
Product Management Area Lead, AsanaMay 17
  • One common misconception about b2b product teams is that they should spend most of their time thinking about the buyer (e.g. an executive, IT decision maker) rather than the individuals using the product every day. This misconception arises because in business settings, everyday users sometimes don’t have much choice in the tools they use. However, product teams who focus too much attention on the buyer and not enough on everyday users often end up building products that may get some initial traction, but ultimately become the products teams love to complain about, and in the long run, will stop using.
  • We focus on making the individual experience of Asana as easy and delightful as possible, so that everyone using the product can see and feel how it’s making work less effortful every day – even if they’re not the person signing the check.
  • Earning customer love and trust at every level creates a solid foundation for growing your relationship and your business. Moreover, B2B customers increasingly expect and review analytics of how their teams are using products, and if it’s clear that the folks at their organizations are highly engaged with a product and love using it, they’re much more likely to remain customers.
Credentials & Highlights
Product Management Area Lead at Asana
Top Product Management Mentor List
Product Management AMA Contributor