Yi-Wei Ang is the Chief Product Officer at talabat (Delivery Hero) who has been working in product for over a decade. We caught up with him this week to talk about his journey into product and what he’ll be speaking about at #mtpcon San Francisco 2023 on June 14.
Getting started in product
Looking back on his career, Yi-Wei explains how he started in a Design Researcher role at IBM. “I loved the fact that I could go deep to understand customers and how they used our product. We regularly got into the crux of understanding what was working for our customers and what wasn’t.”
After a few years of working in research for IBM, Yi-Wei then transitioned into product at Microsoft where he worked at Microsoft’s Developer Division (DevDiv) to build products for the builders of the world. “At Microsoft, I was responsible for developing tools to make it easier for engineers to build apps in the Windows Ecosystem. Building products for software engineers is character building, as they have the highest standards for what their tools must be able to do!” he says reflecting on his time at the large technology firm.
Since starting his career as a Product Manager for Microsoft, he has grown in his craft from strength to strength, undertaking roles such as Head of Growth, and VP of Product working for a number of organisations across the globe.
Most recently, Yi-Wei has been enjoying building products that sit in the intersection of technology and the physical world at talabat (Delivery Hero). In his current role as a Chief Product Officer, he has seen the team grow from 20 to 130 people over the past few years as they rise to the challenge of building products for a growing base of customers who order food and groceries through the digital app. Yi-Wei and his product team have been relishing the challenge of building a product that offers an engaging experience for its users both on the digital and physical side.
Creating a culture of failing
The last time Yi-Wei spoke at #mtpcon Digital APAC in 2021, he delved into the topic of rethinking our relationships and maximising commercial business impacts through ‘product-led’ decision-making—you can read a recap of his keynote here. This time around at #mtpcon San Francisco in June, Yi-Wei feels like it’s important to speak about the importance of team culture in product teams.
“2023 is the year of being reflective and being experimental. How do we build a culture that allows for vulnerability and by extension, courageous decisions to be made? And why is it important? That’s the question that I’ll be looking to answer in my keynote session.” he explains.
Today, there’s so much learning material out there that tells us to create a mindset of continuous discovery and experimentation. However, the starting point of teams being able to do that is whether their organization’s culture allows for vulnerability and failure. Yi-Wei believes that instilling this thinking has to come both from the individual, and more from the organisation. Companies play a key part in planting this mindset of free thinking and discovery within the culture of the company.
There are so many moments as a product manager where you need to make courageous decisions. For example, deciding to go down a path not taken by a dominant competitor, or to take a product decision that goes against conventional wisdom, he explains. “The hardest part of product is when these moments come up and you need to make these calls.
“If you’re in an environment that allows for bold decisions and experimentation, then that’s where the real innovation starts to develop,” Yi-Wei says.
All sounds pretty straightforward…right?
Many product managers and leaders already know the importance of experimenting and failing. However, the challenge arises when you try to encourage your whole team to think in this way.
“If you speak to nine out of 10 product managers and ask them if they know the importance of discovery and prototyping, they’ll say ‘yes, of course’, but many leaders don’t know why it’s so hard to instil this culture and have been battling this issue for years” he explains.
Yi-Wei hopes that his talk at #mtpcon San Francisco will give product managers and leaders a few ideas to feel heard, and be hopeful that organisational culture can change over time with the right resources and communication methods.
“When product managers can gain the power to influence this culture of failing and experimentation, then that’s where the real magic starts to happen” he closes.
Join Yi-Wei and other amazing keynote speakers at #mtpcon San Francisco, happening on June 14. Join us in person or online.