With the new year right around the corner, it’s the perfect time to reflect back on an interesting and at times tumultuous year. Through all of 2020’s challenges, Product Talk never wavered from bringing top industry minds to the mic to share their insights on the world of product. This week, we have an episode full of insights from product leaders at some of the biggest companies out there. Join our hosts Nikki Ahmadi and Christina Lucey as they relive the Best of Product Talk 2020.

Innovation and Intention with leaders from Tinder and Verizon.

This year forced everyone to find new ways not just to do business, but to socialize with family and friends. Luckily, the world of tech and digital media brings a lot to the table in which to connect with others. Nikki discusses the state of digital interaction in her episode with Former Tinder CPO Ravi Mehta, who says this is just the beginning.

“I think we’re at the most fascinating time for the tech industry. I fell in love with technology when I was very young and I’ve always been really interested in how technology changes everyday people’s lives. It’s one of the reasons that I’ve stayed in the consumer space.”

“Today, the way in which people are interacting online is much more natural than it was even five or seven years ago. For me, that’s one of the things that’s most exciting around where technology is going. Tech is going to continue to evolve. Especially in terms of how people meet each other and how they spend time together.”

As digital product continues to evolve, it’s truly going to be up to product teams to drive innovation. For companies to maintain market share, though, product leaders are going to need to be bold, fearless, and unapologetic. This is exactly what Nikki discusses with Verizon Board Director Shellye Archambeau. On their episode of Product Talk, they dive deep into how to lead with intention, both in and out of the office.

“I find that very few people make decisions every day consistent with their plans and their goals. That’s where the power really lies, though. So set a goal and then ask yourself, what has to be true for me to achieve it? And then ask yourself, how do I make that true. That’s how you develop the plan.”

Microsoft product lead on AI and Privacy

The topic of artificial intelligence and voice-enabled tech is one wrought with controversy. As science fiction becomes tech reality product leaders continue to find ways to drive their core business models. Of course, as tech enters our homes and bedrooms, it brings into play the hard questions that surround data and privacy. In their episode, Nikki dives into the future of business models and the democratization of AI with Microsoft Product Leader Nate Yohannes.

“You have to look at the core business model, right. Google’s source of income is really based on search, and they inherently believe that the majority of search will be based on voice in due time. On their end, Amazon is linking its business model for Alexa to e-commerce, which is their true business model. When looking at companies as they transform into this AI world, though, you have to ask the hard questions. How do you create new business models around this while respecting the privacy of the end customer and their data?”

“The message is this: build world-class product, but also bring in people from different perspectives, lives, and experiences to articulate the product impact, be it positive and negative. And let that help drive your product roadmap and influence decisions at the table. Because at the end day, if you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu. You want to be clear that you’re including all humans that will be touching your product because you want to democratize your technology.”

Pandemics and Product Talk with leaders from Sam’s Club and Credit Karma

There’s simply no getting away from the topic of the year. The pandemic forced companies to reapproach nearly every aspect of product management, from strategy to execution. While the light at the end of the tunnel is getting nearer, the impact and effects will undoubtedly linger. Credit Karma Product Director Christina Lucey talks strategy and safety with Sam’s Club Product VP Tim Simmons.

“We immediately pivoted, and found ways in our existing product portfolio to help keep associates safe. As an expample, we were working on a product that we call our emergency app. The problem the emergency app solves is how to protect associates and members in the case of an emergency. Whether it was a hurricane, flood, or another type of emergency, in the past we relied on word of mouth. Well, the product team that was working on the experience app  immediately recognized a need to report positive tests for the COVID virus. So in the app, they created a very streamlined experience to report a positive case, and we were able to launch that really fast.”

From pre-Covid to post, product development has changed in dramatic ways. With the pandemic having significanly accelerated digital innovation, product leaders are being forced to adapt and hit the ground running. In their episode of Product Talk, Christina discusses digital development with Credit Karma Product VP Anish Acharya.

“If you look at how a company is built and its superpower over time, at the beginning it’s just speed of learning. When you’re pre product market fit, the faster you learn, the faster you get to product market fit. Then post product market fit, you start to really look at how you get scale. Then there’s the phase around how to unlock the adjacencies around the product. At each of those different phases, I think companies change in how they actually can exert leverage.

About the speaker
Christina Lucey Podcast Host Contributor

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.

About the host
Nikki Ahmadi Universal Electronics, Director of Product - Cloud & Software

Nikki is a cloud and software product Director who works with a global team of talented engineers and architects in designing and implementing innovative solutions from product inception to production. After spending over a decade working in product engineering and management for multimillion dollar technology and start-up companies, Nikki believes what truly drives innovation is not only a commitment to technological breakthroughs but also people’s passion in improving everyday lives by building products that leave a lasting impact, disrupt the industry, and are vehicles of change, while providing the best user experience. When Nikki isn’t working on her next big product release or entrepreneurial endeavors she is spending much needed time with friends and family discussing the latest politics, or simply the meaning of life. She’s an adventurous traveler who also enjoys capturing moments through photography. Nikki also holds a B.S. in Computer Engineering , M.S. in Electrical Engineering and has a corporate innovation certificate as part of the LEAD program.

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