How can product leaders drive digital transformations? In this episode of Product Talk with Kaboo Founder Neha Shah, Travelers Product Director of Enterprise Payments Nicole Adair speaks on her experience being a part of the team leading payments transformation at Travelers. Nicole shares her non-traditional path to product management, from forecasting and pricing in hotels to consulting and a career pivot into tech. She discusses the challenges of managing stakeholders across a large legacy company. Nicole also offers insights on succeeding as a product leader across industries and her passion for promoting diversity in tech through her work with Women in Technology organizations in Dallas. This conversation provides valuable perspectives on driving digital transformations at a long-standing business and tips for navigating varied product roles over time.

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Show Notes

  1. Nicole took a non-traditional path to product management, with her background including hospitality and real estate.
  2. She discovered her interest in tech while working in demand forecasting and pricing for hotels.
  3. Her first exposure to product management came through interacting with vendor PMs at her hotel job.
  4. Nicole made the full transition into product at a hotel tech consulting company where she led revenue management services.
  5. Managing stakeholders across a large legacy company like Travelers is challenging due to competing priorities.
  6. It’s important to gain experience in roles/industries where you’re not already a subject matter expert.
  7. Understanding data is critical for product managers to derive insights and make decisions.
  8. The goal is always to help users and make their jobs/lives easier through the product.
  9. Nicole is passionate about promoting diversity in tech through her work with Women in Technology orgs.
  10. She helped launch programs to upskill women impacted by COVID into tech roles.
  11. Relationships are important for career growth, especially for women who may be less comfortable networking.
  12. Books like The Mom Test, The Strategize books and Marty Cagan’s work provide valuable frameworks.
  13. Driving digital transformation at a legacy company requires modernizing outdated systems.
  14. It’s important to clearly define goals and measure outcomes when iterating on ideas.
  15. Internal platforms require balancing user needs with the urge to be a “feature factory.”
  16. SAS products face different challenges like relying on sales vs. internal user feedback.
  17. Industry shifts require flexibility and understanding how contexts change product approaches.
  18. Data-driven decision making is key regardless of industry or product type.
  19. The goal is always to help users succeed by making the product invisible.
  20. Gaining diverse experiences helps one avoid preconceived notions in discovery.

About the speaker
Nicole Adair Travelers, Director, Product - Enterprise Payments Member

Nicole is a product management leader with a background ranging from startup to Fortune 100. She is a Product Director on the Payments and Billing Transformation team at Travelers Insurance, and previously held product strategy roles on a machine learning-based pricing and distribution engine for the hospitality industry, and a core enterprise transaction platform in the commercial real estate industry. Nicole began her career in demand forecasting and pricing strategy for hotels, which is where she fell in love with technology and has been in product ever since. She holds a BA in Russian and MS in Hospitality Management. Nicole also serves as a member of the Board of Directors and Recognition Committee chair for the DFW Alliance of Technology & Women, a vital non-profit organization in the Dallas - Ft. Worth metroplex committed to increasing the number of women in leadership and strengthening the pipeline of girls entering technology fields.

About the host
Neha Shah Kaboo, Founder

My experience covers the trifecta of B2B Product Management, Sales, and Marketing. I also co-founded a B2C startup focused on family and education technology. I believe technology can be a creative and powerful driving force for change, and am passionate about building products that improve every day experiences.

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