In the run up to Jobbio HIGHER, we’re previewing some of our exciting speakers to give you a taste of what to expect from the careers event like no other. First up, is Clement Haider Principal Product Manager at Shazam. He spoke to us about what it takes to be a successful Product Manager and how candidates can stand out from the crowd.
Tell us about your role and how you got here.
I’ve been at Shazam for almost 4 years. I started as a Senior Product Manager in the shazam.com web product. Now, I work as a Principal Product Manager looking after the Android platform and several cross platform features. Since I left university I’ve always worked in product and I’ve had two main priorities: One was that I wanted to work with a product which I used myself and second I wanted a role where I could have a real impact and see the results of my work day-to-day.
What do you prefer about your current role?
What I love most is really being at the centre of product development and being in touch with so many different stakeholders. There’s always something new and there’s always a different challenge and topic. One hour you could be talking with biz dev who have an interesting opportunity for us in Russia and then the next hour you could be talking with developers about a drop down not working and then you could be asking how can we make better data available for our data analysts.
What’s the biggest challenge?
Dealing with so many different people is one of the biggest challenges of the role but it’s also the element I love the most. These different discussions give me something new to think about everyday. If you’re interested in coding and development and it’s your passion that you want to pursue each day that’s great, but if you want to talk sometimes about development and sometimes about how we market and promote the product, then this role is for you. As a product manager, you really are at the centre of everything.
What’s your main priority, how do you measure success in your team?
Shazam has big business KPIs, we’re trying to grow our user base and the way we do it is by improving the quality of our app and continuously delivering value to our customers. We’re always looking at the ratings of our app and we’re always trying to increase the positive ratings. We’re very proud to say that we are one of the best rated apps in the market and we’ve been there for quite some time which is a big achievement.
Is there one specific achievement that stands out in your time at Shazam?
When I joined shazam.com it was a very corporate site. We started building a very valuable position for this site, we started showing our data, showing our stats and charts. We started thinking that maybe Shazam can be more than just an app.
At Shazam, we built lots of different features like the Hall of Fame which showed you the most Shazam-ed songs of all time. By having all these extra features, we increased our number of active users by nearly 400%, which clearly signifies the value we brought to our users. That was one particularly proud moment.
What’s the biggest misconception people have about working in product or tech in general?
Some people think that to be a product manager you have to know how to code and have good programming skills but that’s not true. Actually, you can still be an excellent product manager without having that knowledge.
You need to be able to handle a discussion with devs that’s for sure, to know what their main challenges are when they’re writing code and when they’re discussing the complexity of a feature. You need to be able to conceptualise how different components work together but you are not actually coding, you’re not programming and you’re not going to be in your day-to-day.
So do you think it’s more important to be a good people manager than actually have technical expertise?
I think it’s finding the balance. Yes you need people management skills in that you need to be able to communicate well with all the different stakeholders and yes you need to have some technical knowledge so that you realise what you are asking of your developers but more important than that is understanding what your customers want, your users. You need to know what the best features are for your product to have. You need to be passionate so that you get people excited about your vision and be able to communicate that to them effectively. Time management is also important so that you can prioritise properly.
How can talent impress you?
I need to get excited by an interviewee, the way they can do this is by talking about the product and coming up with ideas. They need to sell it to me. They need to have that drive and enthusiasm. You need to have good ideas and be good at selling them. Really it’s about showing me your vision for the product.
At the interview stage what question do you like to be asked?
I had an interview recently and I was asked a question that I thought was really clever, he asked me ‘what does a bad day look like for you?’ It stood out firstly as it’s not a question I’ve gotten before and secondly it made me think that he was genuinely interested in getting a good insight of what it’s like to work in the company, not just looking at what the positives are.