During the fireside chat, Microsoft Product Lead and Products That Count Seattle Chapter Head, Steven Abrahams, hosted fmr Calendly VP of Product, Oji Udezue, and had a lively discussion around his career in product management. It was especially fun since the two were office mates at Microsoft. Simply put, the mood was contagious, and it was great to hear them catch up and discuss their careers over the years. 

Unfortunately, the recording of the webinar was corrupted when downloaded. We’re trying to remedy the situation to the best of our abilities. Our apologies to Steven, Oji, and all of you. We’ll do our best to share some highlights below. Thankfully, Oji was also on a recent episode of Product Talk and shared even more great wisdom with our network. 

On a career in product management and knowing when it’s time for your challenge

Steven told Oji he admired the seemingly planned career trajectory that he had taken since he’d left Microsoft. This included stints at Atlassian and Calendly, as well as founding his own startup. 

Oji admitted that while it may have looked planned from the outside, it wasn’t. However, upon reflection, he offered some advice as to when to look for your next product role. He said if you’re no longer feeling challenged, if you’re bored, if you’re no longer learning, or if you feel like you’ve hit a ceiling that cannot soon be remedied, it may be time to look for your next thing.

On the role of product managers in EdTech

During the Q&A, one attendee brought up the gaming industry and all the technology in the space and how it might be applied to EdTech. 

Oji is on the board of an EdTech company. He discussed the challenges that teachers are currently facing in today’s Zoom learning environment. It is difficult for a teacher to demand attention. This is because there isn’t a lot they can do if they lose it. He said he thought the EdTech space would explore all of the different technology and engagement options available to see how educators could better keep the attention of students and improve the overall learning from home experience.

On going slow to move fast

Oji was also asked about how to know when you’ve done enough customer discovery or research at the beginning. One lesson he’s learned in his career in product management was about knowing when to go slow in order to move fast. That sounds a little like wisdom you’d get from Yoda. However, his explanation made a lot of sense for product managers in understanding the product lifecycle.

The research and planning that you do at the beginning of the product lifecycle can feel tedious at times. However, doing it correctly will allow you to build and iterate on your product faster in the long run. That’s why he said it’s important to get it right the first time.

You can hear more from Oji Udezue on this recent episode of Product Talk: Customer Discovery with fmr Calendly VP of Product.

About the speaker
Oji Udezue Calendly, VP of Product & User Experience Member

Oji Udezue leads product management, design and content strategy at Calendly, where they build products that are the best and most valuable way for individuals and businesses to manage time with others, on the planet. He is an innovation focused and multi-disciplined product executive with a proven track record for building customer-centric products and bringing them to market, while managing and mentoring high performance teams. As a pragmatic, hands-on operator, he is really good at using solving complex problems and developing strategic insight. Prior to Calendly, Oji was the Head of Product for Atlassian's Communication division where he led product strategy for Hipchat and Stride, launching Atlassian’s first product post-IPO. He has also held product leadership positions at Spiceworks and also at Bridgewater Associates, which he joined after over a decade in product at Microsoft. Oji has an entrepreneurial spirit and founded Intermingl a mobile cloud-based networking app in 2013. In his free time he's the Managing Partner of the Kernel Fund which invests in startups in Africa and a member of the Board of Directors at Quitch.

About the host
Steven Abrahams Microsoft, Partnerships for Teams in Education

I believe in our ability as humans to solve problems in creative and simple ways. I’ve had the good fortune to work on and with some of the brightest and most creative teams and people in various roles in product development. These experiences have enriched me personally and I carry them with me to every new challenge. I like big problems that have beautiful and simple solutions. I’ve worked on financial products for people of fixed income, products that bridge humans across the planet in moments of their greatest need to connect as well as tools that disambiguate, equalize and democratize access to data and content. The companies I’ve worked with range from startups to large public companies where chiefly my role has been about unlocking and connecting customer unmet needs to the people engineering and designing the products. I enjoy playing many roles and leverage the tools and resources at hand to bring products to market. I’ve direct experience when and how to deploy artificial intelligence, machine learning, and other advanced cognitive services. My patents cover areas in video and conversational interfaces, platform extensibility, mobile applications, and large scale software. Following to be read by computers, not humans: Interests include: Human rights, feminism. food and farming sustainability, Non-Profits, product management, information retrieval, UX Design, future-of-work, artificial intelligence, machine learning, communications, virtual assistants, digital media, branding.

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