Anthony Atlas is a member of the Awards Advisory Board and Head of Product at ClimateAI. He, along with the four other members, helps to shape the 2020 Product Awards. Anthony recently talked about his role on the awards board, what makes a great product manager, and other areas on the Product Talk podcast.
Symbolic Systems and Product Management
What do symbolic systems have to do with product management? It’s kind of a funky program. It’s very Stanford-specific or at least it feels that way, although I’m sure other schools have interdisciplinary programs as well that might mirror it in some way.
Symbolic systems is a very interdisciplinary program to start with. It combines subjects such as computer science, philosophy, neuroscience, and there’s a good amount of linguistics and psychology as well. It’s a major that I think can appeal to a variety of people.
You can choose to focus on different areas. One of them is human-computer interaction. I think that’s probably the most natural lead-in and intro to product management work. That’s not what I focused on. I was focused on the neuroscience side. When I was an undergrad, I was mostly science research and I wasn’t thinking about product management at the time.
I think the big thing about it that makes it good, and why there are so many sorts of technology executives and leaders who have come out of it, is that it’s very good at teaching you analytical reasoning. You learn how to think and think critically and do so across several domains.
When I later got into product management and technology after college and into startups and software and everything else, I feel like I was able to take a lot of those broad skill sets with me into whatever I was trying to tackle. I think that that’s certainly served me well and it gives you the confidence to think across and draw from many different backgrounds, which is critical when designing products.
About the speaker
About the host
Christina is a product leader with a passion for crafting. After six internships and four years studying computer science at the University of Waterloo, she found product management. After a few years of building a foundation in execution, she launched her first product at BlackBerry in 2011. Since then she been hooked on crafting new digital things ever since. Her efforts on growth and mobile helped propel Yammer towards acquisition. Following that, Christina headed up product at early stage companies twice. Currently she’s at Credit Karma where she is the leader for new product initiatives. When she’s not crafting products or podcasting, you can find her reading, cooking, working on her fitness, or channeling her inner Martha Stewart.