Communication is key
Managing more than a product
When we ask Jennifer what a job as Product Manager for her looks like, the first thing she says "there is a lot of communication between me and customers, partners, and of course developers. Secondly, I spend my time specifying tasks for designers and frontend developers and I carry out functional tests”, she explains.
“I have a lot of talks with some of our partners that we have been working with for a long time. I listen to their pains and requests and try to translate that into features, we can build and thereby keep improving our platform for all users. The challenge is sometimes understanding what the problem is instead of what kind of feature they think they want,” Jennifer explains.
One of the odd things about product management is that you’re often strategically directing the work of people who don’t report to you. That’s why managing your resources is always going to be a challenge: technically, they’re never really your resources to manage.
“I was 25 when I started in this role. I was contacted by Nicolai on LinkedIn, who wanted a talk about how I might contribute to his team, and I was intrigued,” Jennifer smiles.
“I had recently moved to Aarhus for love. My network was small, and I had time and energy to focus on work, so it had to be right. During the same period, I signed up to be a volunteer for Coding Pirates," she explains.
Coding Pirates is an organization that engages children in software programming by doing events. "This was an opportunity to show young girls that working with software development and IT could be fun. I worked with young boys and girls using programming to implement games and activities on LEGO Mindstorm," Jennifer explains.
“I started understanding how working with software programming worked and I still enjoy using SCRUM developing work method as my daily routine. I see it as a way of having a structured workday and boxes checked off every day,” Jennifer says.
The importance of a team
Joined a tight community
Another benefit to working in a software environment is working as a team. As the Product Manager is responsible for creating the structure and following up on tasks during sprints, the Product Manager is also depending on the team to come through on the agreed deadlines.
“We are very close, and I feel like it is the key to get things done. I also value the close bond we have with each other,” Jennifer explains.
“It wasn’t long after I started when I fell for the tight community Nicolai was building, he really understands how to create a strong bond within a team. He will take us out and invite us home and cook for us.” Jennifer says.
A male dominated industry
Jennifer came from the Copenhagen area, where she studied Digital Media Engineering at DTU (Denmark’s Technical University). She recalls that only about three percent were women studying with her in the same study program.
“I realized that not many women seemed interested to partake in the technical study programs and I always wondered, why not. I would love to have more female colleagues and think there are great opportunities for women in the tech companies,” she contests.
Her manager, Nicolai agrees that there is plenty of room and opportunity for more women in the software industry, but he also agrees that there are a couple of challenges.
“One of the challenges might be that you need to work with developers. That isn’t always an easy job,” he jokes. “Developers use logical thinking to such a degree where it gets hard to see beyond logic. The problem with that is that the world doesn’t always work logically, meaning we sometimes need another approach. Having someone who can translate the nuances of the real world and place the button in the intuitive or commercially correct place, is crucial for it to work,” he explains.
“Jennifer's advantage in this job is that she is incredibly structured. Also, she has the right intuition for how the front end works”, Nicolai says.
Jennifer has never noticed being treated differently from others. “I don’t know if there are any advantages to being a woman in a male-dominated team”, she takes a moment to think. Perhaps they can be more patient with me, but I don’t experience - in any way - being treated differently,” Jennifer says.
“Being a young woman and making a career in the IT industry might have had some effect on the way I see myself. Since there aren't that many female role models, you have to find your own way,” she goes on.
“Like any other young professional, the biggest insecurity has stemmed from me, but Nicolai always believed in me and has been a great support for me," she finishes.