September 4, 2019 PRODUCT MANAGEMENT SKILLS

Sam’s Club Product Lead on Product Meets Culture

Abby Crowley Article Author
Sharon Su Plasser
Sam's Club (part of Walmart E-Commerce) Director of Product Management

Product Meets Culture: Advantages To Large Organizations and Key Principles to Follow (Part 1)

Companies Need to Adapt

What do Walgreens, Ford Motors, Walmart, and Chase all have in common? The thing that all these companies have in common is not just brand, but Fortune 500 status and legacy. In addition, they have been doing business for at least 50 years! In fact, you know what else they’re doing? They’ve actually started bringing on the practice of product.

Actually, in the 90’s these companies started I.T. organizations. Now, they’re bringing on product management organizations. They do this to stay relevant. Therefore, they need to have a long term outlook and meet the changing needs of people and technology.

Advantages to Working In Large Established Companies

The cool part of doing product in these organizations is that you get to make things, ideas, and business lines. Everything you do is done at scale because you have brand. You have over 50 years of a company behind you and you have business lines that can supplement the work that you’re doing. 

For example, take a company like Walmart. It was founded in 1962. It’s been in the Fortune 100 for the seventh year running. In addition, it’s been in the Fortune 100 for the seventh year running with about five hundred billion in revenue. In fact, it operates in 27 countries and it employs 2.2 million people worldwide. It is actually the largest corporate employer in the world. 

That means that anything a product manager works on in this organization will touch the lives of millions. Therefore, in order to remain relevant and continue to have this impact, Walmart needs to be adaptable.  As we said before, it is essential to be adaptable to the changing needs of consumers and of technology. Walmart does this by investing in a learning culture and in technology.

Key Principles For Product Managers

As a result, we’re going to cover three case studies that provide actionable guidance for PMs in these environments. In addition, these are 4 principles from the 10 principles of doing business that Sam Walton wrote in the 1980’s. They’re going to give you a hint about what I am trying to communicate to you all about product. 

4 Principles:

  • Communicate everything. The more your partners know the more they’ll understand.
  • Listen to everyone in your company. The ones that talk to your customers are the only ones who really knows what is going on. 
  • Exceed your customer’s expectations
  • Ignore conventional wisdom

Click here for Part 2

Click here for Part 3

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About the Speaker
Sharon Su Plasser
Sam's Club (part of Walmart E-Commerce) Director of Product Management
Sharon Su Plasser is a Director of Product at Sam’s Club (part of Walmart E-Commerce) - leading the product team focused on retail operations and reverse logistics. Prior to joining Sam’s Club, she led product management and business operations teams at Yahoo. In addition, Sharon has also held leadership positions at Goldman Sachs and Meebo. Sharon holds a degree from Skidmore College and currently lives in San Francisco

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