The Product Spotlight: Conversations with Experts – The First 90 Days
Teagan O’Donovan, March 25th 2024

My name is Teagan, and I’m a Managing Consultant at ISL Talent. I specialise in product and have worked hard to build a solid network over the years. I’ve created this blog series to gather insights from high level product people and help others in the community with advice to take their careers to the next level.

In this interview, I chat to Chief Product Officer, Rosendo Travieso. We talk about everything from the current trends and challenges within product to tips for product managers and what the first 90 days as a successful product manager should look like.

Can you start by introducing yourself?

“I’m Rosendo, a product professional with 15+ years’ experience in multiple sectors (Telecoms, AdTech, Proptech). I have managed teams of 20+ product managers in Europe, USA and Latin America and I am multilingual in English, French and Spanish.”

Can you tell me about your career journey to get to where you are now?

“I have a Law degree from Argentina and a Master’s in Law and Finance that I did at LSE. When I finished my masters, I did research in media and decided that I did not want to pursue Law anymore. I did programming in my own time and managed to get a role as a front-end programmer. This allowed me to get into a number of roles including a great position at WPP developing digital experiences. The director of product left the business, and I was invited to apply: it was a sink or swim opportunity for 3 months.

After 90 days, my manager confirmed that they were very pleased with my performance. I never looked back; I have been in product management ever since. I have been very lucky to be involved in delivering the first mobile website for Number 10 Downing Street, Mobile Advertising for O2 UK, Global Multinational services for Telefónica amongst others. I have worked in the UK, France and Spain.”

What are the current challenges you are facing either in product as a whole or in your specific industry?

“In AdTech and Data intelligence the key challenges are data privacy and regulation compliance, in particular the implementation of stringent regulations like GDPR and CCPA. Ensuring compliance while still offering effective targeting can be a significant challenge.

Staying ahead of the new tech is another challenge, especially with the rise of AI and machine learning. Making sure that as a Product Manager we remain ahead of the tech curve is critical to remain competitive.

AdTech tech deals with large datasets and complex algorithms, making all this complexity simple to manage and orchestrate is a challenge. Balancing effective ad placements with a positive user experience is difficult as intrusive or irrelevant ads can lead to user experience issues.”

What are some future predictions or trends you can see upcoming in product?

“I would expect AI to be even more embedded into the fabric of AdTech and data. AI/LLMs to streamline massive areas of AdTech from documentation to report generation to optimisation and creative executions. This will allow Product managers to focus more on experimentation and A/B testing.

Product managers to become more specialised. This means less generic product people will be less in demand. I would recommend specialising in a subject area like AdTech, FinTech, EdTech and HealthTech.

Expect more Product operations roles to become commonplace at all organisations, just like revenue and marketing operations, there’s an unstoppable need to have product ops professionals.”

In your experience, what are the key priorities a new product manager should focus on during their initial days on the job?

“There are 3 key priorities that a new PM would have to work on:

First, mental preparation is key to prepare for the transition and the new role. The amount of information, people, relationships, and challenges will be quite intense. It is also the pressure to look good and do the right thing that will weigh on the new starter.

Apart from the mental prep, it is critical to customise the learning strategy; there will be a large amount of information that you will need to capture very quickly and a way to prioritise and store this information is very important. The third priority is about what I call ‘negotiate success’: put together a 90-day plan with specific milestones and achievements so that your manager is aligned with what it will be your North Star.

Apart from that, focus on preserving work-life balance; ensure you are working sustainably and stay grounded. It’s a marathon – not a sprint!”

What are some common challenges new product managers might encounter during their first 90 days, and how can they navigate these challenges successfully?

“The main challenges are about understanding the product and the market as a priority. New PMs should invest time in learning from existing documentation, talking to customers, and seeking mentorship from more experienced colleagues.

The other challenging area will be to manage stakeholder expectations; stakeholders may have conflicting expectations. Product managers should focus on building strong relationships through regular communication, setting clear expectations, and delivering on promises. As a new member of the organisation, building credibility is vital. Product managers can achieve this by demonstrating product knowledge, being reliable, and delivering small wins to build trust with the team.”

Can you share any strategies or techniques for quickly getting up to speed with a company's products, processes, and team dynamics?

“I believe you need to understand the product very well. What problems it solves, the benefits and key customer pain points. Product immersion is critical: read the documentation, user guides, wikis, etc. Talk to product users, understand how they use the product, why it works, where it doesn’t.

Processes are more complex, and I would start with how the processes are documented and mapped to workflows. Adopt a strategy that allows you to capture and learn the process as quickly as possible, shadow super users, inquire about the process and how it maps a particular activity/task. Processes are very much focused on outputs and gates, understanding these key high-level points is a great way to get started.

Product management is not only about products but above all people. Have regular 1:1s with key stakeholders across functions, attend team meetings and have informal sessions. Understand the culture and any specific champions you should engage with.

Don’t forget to take notes, document what you learn and compile your own guides, mind maps and stakeholder charts. In your own time have some reflective practice, I keep a journal to track learnings and reflections. This process of self-evaluation allows to provide focus on the areas you are comfortable and those areas where you are not.”

If you had just hired someone, what would they have achieved by the end of the first 90 days for you to feel proud of what they have accomplished?

“Connected to the previous question, I would expect that the new starter has accomplished a great onboarding if they were able to understand and apply the company culture. Living by the company values and contributing to the team in a positive way. The new starter should have established productive relationships with teammates, stakeholders, clients, etc.

Secondly, having a solid product knowledge; what the company offers, benefits, target market/customers and how to make the product deliver on all measures of success. I would expect them to understand how their goals align to the product and company objectives (North Star).

Thirdly, as a product manager, I would expect the new started to be self-sufficient, requiring less direct supervision, able to manage the role responsibilities with increased autonomy and independence.

Lastly, it’s all about performance and value; how the new starter has managed to contribute in such a way that has deliver clear value to the company whether in terms of revenue, cost-savings, process improvement or customer satisfaction.”

Get in touch

In this interview, Rosendo shared valuable insights on how product managers can get up to speed in a new company, the current challenges faced within product and future predictions for the industry.

Looking ahead, Rosendo predicts deeper integration of AI in AdTech, specialisation of product managers, and the rise of Product Operations roles. For new product managers, he stressed mental preparation, customised learning strategies, and maintaining a healthy work/life balance are key to success. 

These blogs are all about connecting people, so if you liked what Rosendo had to say, connect with him here. Alternatively, if you’d like to feature in a future blog or would like to chat to me about product roles, drop me a message on LinkedIn here.

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