Over the past 11 years, Kiwi.com managed to grow from a small start-up to a globally recognized travel technology company. Just as the Kiwi.com product portfolio expanded, the product management organization had to adjust and evolve accordingly. From a few enthusiasts who were mostly following the execution of the existing ideas, it emerged into an independent functional line represented by a variety of specialists starting from individual contributors who are working with dedicated product domain to the group managers and vice presidents (VPs), who are leading respective teams and are shaping Kiwi.com product strategy.
What does a Product Manager do?
By similarity of the words or general perception, product management is sometimes confused with project management. Kiwi.com Group Product Manager Lukáš Brázdil said that from his perspective, a Product Manager’s main responsibility is product discovery. Lukáš describes, “Basically, the Product Manager is responsible for collecting the ideas, discovering the ideas, and making sure that the feature or the product makes business sense. He or she is responsible that the product is actually successful from a business perspective, whereas the Project Manager is responsible for the quality of the delivery that is needed on time and on budget.”
Kiwi.com lead Product Manager Lukáš Brázdil
It’s all about the people
Principal Product Manager Michal Rucky added, “It depends on the domain and the people who are taking care of it. We can talk about product or project management, but it’s all about the people in the end.”
We are wondering if it’s all about the people then what should be the qualities needed to become a good Product Manager? Michal explains, “Those people need to think outside of the box and be able and ready to talk to people, different kinds of people; from Quality Assurance Engineers (QA) and devs explaining what needs to be done and why to C-level management and external parties to understand the requirements or elaborate on the product specifics.”
It might seem that the Product Manager needs to be a complete expert in their domain and though this is preferable, it is not exactly correct. Michal said that the Product Manager should rather know their team member’s strengths and expertise and be able to reach out to the right people at the right time. Michal shared, “Let me give you an example. If you would like to be the Product Manager of a car, you have to sit in and drive it. You do not need to be the biggest expert in car engines or manufacturing processes, but you need to know how it’s used by a customer. As a Product Manager, it is crucial to understand user perspective and needs.”
Product Manager, Michal Rucky
Learn with Kiwi.com about product management
The speed of Kiwi.com’s growth required more and more specialists to support new product lines and features. Both in-depth knowledge of Kiwi.com product specifics, e.g Virtual Interlining or Nomad, and overall product management expertise were needed to support the product development speed. This led to our hiring process being conducted both externally and internally. The hiring process clearly identified the need to prepare a set of materials and guidelines for proper onboarding of new members to the Product family. Not surprisingly that it all started with Slack (a communication platform that we use), which is an integral component of Kiwi.com culture.
A simple question was raised by our Chief of Staff for Product, Petra Vaškových to existing members of the product team, “Hey guys, do you have any learning or reading materials that you would recommend for the others?” That question led to a 20+ answer thread in Slack, and from that, we created an extensive list of books, podcasts, videos and blogs to follow. It became a “go-to” list for the product management team, especially for those wanting to better understand their domain, learn best practices and broaden the horizon of their expertise.
Kiwi.com managed to grow incredibly fast thanks to innovative technology and talented people who day-by-day are breaking the limits and improving the product. We invite you to explore the top 5 books for Product Managers based on our team feedback:
- Inspired: How to Create Tech Products Customers Love – Marty Cagan
- Empowered: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Products – Marty Cagan, Chris Jones
- Personal MBA – Josh Kaufman
- Outcomes Over Output – Josh Seiden
- The Hard Thing About Hard Things – Ben Horowitz