Shendi Wang is a Business Leader of Product Development and Innovation at Mastercard. In her ProductTank NYC presentation, she discusses her own personal experiences in product and how they have helped her to discover the types of products she wanted to create.
Shendi’s experiences in product started at American Express, developing prepaid products in a startup environment with their own tech platform. From there, she moved to The Street, a financial news website. Today she leads a brand new group at Mastercard, with a team of only five people.
Experiences in Product
“Product” can be a very broad term. The nice thing about that broadness is that it allows designers and product managers to really focus on the specific products that they want to work on. That is what Shendi was able to do. Before she did that, however, she had to consider a few different factors.
She first looks at product from one of two perspectives; product development and product management. Some companies have both of these roles on the same team, and both will see the product through its entire life cycle. Other companies, however, separate the roles, so once the product is developed, the product manager then takes over.
Next, Shendi asks herself if she is working closer to business or closer to tech. The answer to this question will vary company to company, and it is also somewhat dictated by your background.
Shendi uses these two questions to decide what products and companies she wants to work with. Another factor she takes account for is where the product is in its life cycle. If the product is pre-launch, her role will be closer to product development and tech heavy. If it is post-launch, her role will be closer to product management and business heavy.
How does the industry affect the product management role? When Shendi worked at American Express, they developed prepaid products and worked with a lot of large partners like Walmart and Target. Because of those huge partnerships, she worked with the 40 different scrum teams that developed the products and she also had an intimate knowledge of the product features.
Conversely, when she worked for The Street, she did not work as closely with tech teams, and instead worked from more of a business perspective.
At Mastercard, her role is more holistic. Because they are developing a brand new product, rather than improving or altering an existing one, she has to work closely with both development and management, as well as business and tech.
Find your preferred spot
What Shendi discovered through all of her experiences in product was where she preferred to work. She prefers the development side, being able to see a product throughout its entire life cycle. She also likes working with stakeholders and dealing with legal issues. She likes to understand the tech side to a certain degree as well, without actually doing the coding. She also likes some aspects of the business side, such as negotiating agreements and setting market goals.
Each person will have different preferences and goals, and working on a lot of different products will help you figure out exactly which career focus is right for you.