Products That Count: Earnin Head of Product
Every month, Products That Count will bring you stories from each of our crew members across the country. Today, you’ll hear from Earnin Head of Product Jessica Chen Riolfi – who is our Head of Chapter in San Jose.
Introduce yourself to the Products That Count network – tell us who you are and what you’re up to as a product leader?
My name is Jessica Chen Riolfi and I currently lead the product and design teams at Earnin. Our company is a fintech startup that focuses on helping people living paycheck-to-paycheck get to a better financial place. Today, our current product is a mobile app that enables people to get access to their earnings in between paychecks.
The financial system in the United States today is fundamentally broken and rife with unfairness. That’s where Earnin comes in – it’s looking at all the places in the financial system where there’s unfairness and rethinking them.
How did you get involved with Products That Count?
Prior to joining Earnin, I worked at TransferWise – which focuses on international payments. The company is based in London and I was featured as PTC’s first-ever speaker in London. During that first event, I was impressed by the high-bar that SC (Products That Count Founder) set for the events. As a result, the overall engagement was unique and I’ve been a fan ever since.
When I moved back to the Bay Area, I wanted to get engaged with the network on its “home turf” and reached out to SC about ways that I could get involved. Fortunately, the San Jose chapter was looking for a new head of chapter and I jumped at the opportunity. It’s been incredible to continue building momentum in the product community in San Jose and I’m looking forward to bringing in new guests that will keep the conversation going.
In your opinion, what is the definition of a great product?
Great products are most valuable when they bring meaningful improvements to people’s lives. For example, during my time at TransferWise – our focus was making products that were 10x better than the next best product. Simply put, great products need to stand out from the competition and when they are in front of customers.
From your perspective, what makes a great product manager?
Along similar lines as my previous “10x better” comment, product managers need to strive for the same results. In doing so, you always have the customer’s best interests in mind when making decisions. When I seek out new product managers to join my team, I look for people who have a passion for making the world a better place for others. As a result, this passion drives you to not settle for second-rate solutions or trade-offs. Instead, they are fanatically dedicated to doing right by their customers.
What are some of your favorite resources – blogs/podcasts/books/etc.?
Whenever new PMs ask me about what to read or focus on, I usually start with product design. Generally, we tend to prioritize hard skills as being the most important – but having a grasp on design principles is critical. With this, I recommend reading The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman. Specifically, the book provides a lot of great insights into understanding customer value and overall usability.
About the speaker
Jessica Chen Riolfi has spent her career taking companies international, and currently accelerates TransferWise’s mission around the world. At TransferWise, she started off by globalizing TransferWise’s product and now leads the Asia region, managing 13 countries and a significant chunk of the £800 million transferred on a monthly basis by TransferWise customers. Previously, she drove international growth at eBay and Amazon. She holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a BA from Dartmouth College.