We are seeing people from all types of work backgrounds and cultures becoming a part of product. It is a critical shift as you build products for an emerging global market. How do PMs empower diversity in thought leadership and product management? PayPal Senior Product Leader Ronke Majekodunmi shares insights about diversity within roles and customer relationships for successful PMs.
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On Diversity of Experience
Ronke shares her path to product management through customer support. Here she shares the importance of talking to the customer support people as they are tapped into the voice of the customer.
“When you are starting at a new organization, the first person you want to go talk to is a tech support person. That is the first person you want to be friends with, that’s the first person you want to buy coffee for, that is the first person you want to say, ‘Hi, nice to meet you.’
“Then shadow them, sit with them, hear the calls. Ask them, hey, help me, what are the top five problems? Help me rank them. When you solve that problem with an experience, the first person you show it to is that tech support rep because they will tell you whether or not you got it. They are the ears and the voice of the customer; they hear everything.
“The other thing I do when I start a new organization other than tech support or customer service, I will find those people sometimes in certain organizations called customer success. They are the first people I meet along with the relationship manager. The relationship manager can tell you whether or not that customer is on the verge of leaving you if one more thing goes wrong, or if they are happy or if they are unhappy.
On Empowering Diversity on Teams
Ronke describes how empowering diversity within teams and within customer perspectives can create the success of a product, from start to finish.
“It’s important to have diversity in the room, in your product management team, in your scrum team. The reason is that you’re building products for emerging global folks. For an emerging global demographic, that demographic is ever-changing. Their needs are ever-changing. So how do you do what they want? How can you have empathy if you don’t have people in your organization that look like them and think like them?”
“Sometimes I will bring into that meeting our data scientist. Before that meeting my data scientist and I’ve already met and I’ve got his perspective as to the KPIs that I want to track, but I also will bring that voice into the room as well with our leadership, so that they can see how we’re making decisions and that isn’t just me, Ronke, the PM, sitting here going, this is what we’re gonna do. It’s us as an organization, as a team, having this different perspective, and diverse voices. This is what we should do for the customers because we represent them.”
On How to Grow with Diversity Management
Ronke shares ways companies can grow diversity among their employees, by reaching candidates from diverse backgrounds where they are, as they want to see themselves in top roles among organizations.
“It’s important to practice diversity management. What do I mean by that? Diversity management means that for someone like me, I’ll see some people who look like me in our org. It has a psychological impact. This is like the particle effect. If I see people who look like me in leadership, I’m going to want to stay with that company.”
“The way to do that is diversity management is actually going to meet the candidates where they are, but also looking at our job description. Do we really need an MBA for every PM role? Maybe not, though maybe if it’s more on the business side. Do we need someone who’s technical? Maybe not. Are you really looking at the job description because what happens is if you say I need an MBA or I need to be technical? There are a bunch of candidates that will not apply for that role and are coming from marginalized communities.’
“But also, the other thing that Salesforce has is that I think that they’ve been practicing diversity management for quite some time because recently, there was a LinkedIn video that I saw and I was just so moved. There were a bunch of African American women dancing at an office in Salesforce after a new workshop. All these women of color that you see are either directors or VPs at Salesforce, and I saw myself, and I was just thrilled. I think diversity management is key here.”
About the speaker
About the host
I am the Director of Brand & Sustainability for Transfix, a leading transportation solutions provider, combining tech and a best-in-class carrier network to reshape the future of freight. I am also a host for Product Talk helping bring product leaders together to answer the question: "What makes a great product?"