5 questions to Karolina Jackson-Ward, Head of Product at Webforum

Karolina has worked in different roles within the IT industry in London and Stockholm. With her unique and diverse professional background and passion for psychology, Karolina brings a different perspective of Product Management on to the table. During her talk, she will tell us about the mismatch of what she thought was would do and what the role of a product manager actually was in an organization. I don’t think she is alone in this experience!

How did you get into Product Management?

I sort of slipped into IT, I was really initially in finance. And I wanted to go into the financial side of things. I landed my first job in London, where all that I needed was to be able to speak Swedish and that was in technical support. And that was my way into the IT sector and I really liked it there. I started to process documentation and improvement requests that came from users. And, I could see that the product side of things were mostly technology driven and not very business driven. And that was where my background was in, business organization and particularly the psychology of them all.

What are organizations for? How do people come together? How to achieve results through leadership, management, and understanding people?

So, I could see that there was a need in product for that sort of competence and this was back before product management greatly existed as a separate function. it was usually very focused on the technology side rather than the business side and the business side was focused on the business. There was no bridge between the two.

I came back to Sweden and I started working for a company called Project Place and I started there again on the user side, user documentation, user support and user community. The community management lead to the product management really.

People often help along the way, has there been somebody that really helped you and how?

My manager at Planview, he really helped a lot and we did a lot of framework around product management and things like that. So, he's been really helpful.

A number of influences in the product management space. I listen to several podcasts on Product Management. That's really helpful to define a new role.

What book have you read lately that has really influenced you?

Not books per say, some book by Jeffery Liker. My main inspiration comes from Ted Talk. I think it is really good to have.

How do you do Product management? What's your “secret sauce”?

I am honestly curious about people and weird facts. I think curiosity paired with being stubborn. Having a really clear vision that you don’t weave away from, what problems is it that you want to solve and why. And have an organization that understands what problem is so that we want to solve in the world and why.

What do you see as the most exciting development for Product Management?

In product management, the evolution of AI and machine learning will make a huge difference and is probably the most exciting development. As product managers we have the double impact of having AI impact both the products we manage and our own internal processes. What parts of our jobs could be automated and in what order. Are there any new skills that we need to develop in order to be relevant in the new order? And how can we use it to enhance our products and deliver more value to our customers quicker? What value streams can be automated and what new value can we give to customers through AI? And how do we manage the transformation?

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About Sneha Barman

Background in Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering and Product Management. My professional roles have ranged from a design engineer, product development engineer and product manager where I primarily worked on commercial products to make it market ready. I am constantly curious and intrigued by technological advancements in all areas and the impact it has in the world and our lives. It’s a good era for me to be in!

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