Project show-and-tell, Part 2: How 4 Seattle product teams are moving the needle in their industry

by Quinten Dol
May 16, 2019

Product managers have a unique skill set. They need to balance tactical and long-term strategic thinking with their own instincts while remaining clear-headed enough to follow the evidence in front of them — and be able to clearly communicate all this to managers.

Product teams are working away on complex and confounding problems all over Seattle at the moment. In the second installment of this two-part series, we learn what product managers at four Seattle startups are working on, from white collar automation to overland freight.

 

convoy product management seattle tech
photo via convoy

Convoy seeks to bring a much-needed dose of efficiency and transparency to the $800 billion U.S. trucking industry where, at the current rate, up to 40 percent of trucks on the road right now are towing empty trailers. By streamlining connections between truckers and companies with goods to freight, the company helps freighters find more business and reduces the industry’s overall carbon footprint.

Director of Product Management Himani Jain said she draws inspiration from her smart and savvy coworkers.

 

Describe a big project your team is currently working on. How will it impact the company or your industry?

We are building products to reduce the effort to run a contract auction between trucking businesses, and a data platform and data models to inform future contract participation based on previous auction results and contract performance. This helps shippers save effort and empowers them with valuable insights on how to meet their transportation needs while minimizing their spend. It also helps Convoy be smarter about its participation in contracts. I am excited about this project as it has the potential to transform the industry and reset the expectations of all participants along the way.

 

I also like that I am empowered to take a more active role in leadership at the company, such as hiring and retaining diverse talent.”

What aspects of your job do you enjoy most?

I am surrounded by extremely passionate, smart and driven individuals who approach every problem with curiosity, rigor and urgency. This results in stimulating conversations, frequent innovation on behalf of our customers and a constant cycle of learning. Each of us also carries the responsibility of shaping and retaining the culture as we continue our hyper growth mode.

This experience has reshaped my framework on how I think about the importance of community and culture in the workplace and has raised the bar of what I will expect from my next job. I also like that I am empowered to take a more active role in leadership at the company, such as hiring and retaining diverse talent.

 

suplari seattle tech product management
photo via suplari

Suplari is building an intelligent software platform that helps enterprises connect and sift through disjointed datasets to find and present opportunities for cost savings and other action items. The company applies advanced data science methods designed to make sense of the data locked away inside a wide array of operational and financial systems that don’t necessarily interact with one another.

And for Director of Product Arnab Banerjee, the mission doesn’t stop there.

 

Describe a big project your team is currently working on. How will it impact the company or your industry?

For business leaders, knowing a problem or finding an opportunity is only the initial step toward the goal – doing something about it is what creates value. That type of ‘last mile problem’ is what we need to solve in order to make our customers truly successful. That’s why we are building a performance management system to help enterprises easily act on the generated insights. That will also enable organizations to use best practices and build repeatable, automated ways to monetize insights. That transforms the way they run their businesses.

We are connecting the dots between data and action, knowledge and results. In turn, we help enterprises become more agile, make fact and intelligence-based decisions and adjust to ever-changing environments that they find themselves in.

 

You want to innovate, solve big problems, but have to do that within a pragmatic and competitive world.”

What aspects of your job do you enjoy most?

As product managers, we are focused on our customers. We always strive to understand what our customers want and how we can solve their pain points. But that’s not all — we also need to align that understanding with our company’s own vision and goals. This is especially true in a fast-growing company where we have competing priorities and plenty of viable directions, but need to manage resources and ambitious timelines. We need to be laser-focused and results driven. You want to innovate, solve big problems, but have to do that within a pragmatic and competitive world. That’s very challenging — and also what I like most about the job.

 

nintex bellevue tech startup
photo via nintex

Bellevue-based Nintex is all about automation, cutting down on the kind of mind-numbing digital paper-pushing all white collar workers love to hate. Using its software, non-coders can visualize, manage and automate workflows by pointing and clicking their mouse, rather than writing lines of code. The company recently acquired Orlando company EnableSoft, adding its robotic process automation software to its tech toolbox.

Senior Product Manager Dan Barker said he was excited by Nintex’s recent announcement of a product integration partnership with Adobe.

 

Describe a big project your team is currently working on. How will it impact the company or your industry?

Nintex recently strengthened our partnership with Adobe, resulting in a new e-signature capability called Nintex Sign, powered by Adobe Sign. Strategically, this is extremely important because it allows us to offer our own e-signature service that is completely integrated into the Nintex Platform.

It also enables Nintex to provide a world-class, end-to-end process automation service that brings together critical capabilities like document generation, e-signatures, process management, workflow and content automation, mobile apps and RPA. Through our new partnership with Adobe, we can now enable both Nintex and Adobe customers implement powerful solutions that automate steps before, during, and after an electronic signature. Ultimately, we want to make it easy for customers to get up and running with the tools they need.

 

I love the creative process of thinking through how to best leverage all elements of the Nintex Platform to solve customer pain points.”

What aspects of your job do you enjoy most?

I’ve been a developer, architect and business analyst among other things, so I know how hard it can be to build solutions that successfully automate a process. Spending time diving into a business’ needs and the issues they’re dealing with helps me and our product team better understand how to create value for customers. 

I also love thinking about the big picture and strategic opportunities to completely reimagine how work gets done. I love the creative process of thinking through how to best leverage all elements of the Nintex Platform to solve customer pain points. Ultimately, I love being part of a team that works together to bring ideas to life. Lastly, as a product leader I am fortunate that I get to work across our entire business to bring Nintex products to market. We have an amazing team of people that makes coming to work a lot of fun.

 

chef seattle tech startup product management
photo via chef software

Chef is a leader in continuous automation technology, helping companies like GE Digital, Gannett and Alaska Airlines build, deploy and manage their engineering projects. The Pioneer Square-based company helps out with automating infrastructure and compliance processes, facilitates cloud adoption and modernizes legacy apps, among other services.

Product Manager Michael Chiang highlighted his team’s customer-centric approach to picking up and developing projects.

 

Describe a big project your team is currently working on. How will it impact the company or your industry?

One major project the team has been working on is providing observability of application pipelines. This helps software teams receive insights into what’s happening under the hood as they ship new features. This project came from our customers, where they would tell us they’ve automated their infrastructure through Chef — and now want to take a leap forward to automate their applications.

 

I enjoy working with customers and translating their needs into succinct features...”

What aspects of your job do you enjoy the most?

I enjoy working with customers and translating their needs into succinct features — or the removal of features — in our product lines. There is also a thrill in looking at the competitive landscape of this industry, and seeing which areas we can further invest in to drive our core advantages.

 

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