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Amazon Product Manager Answers Community Questions

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This week,Ā Product School’sĀ #AskMeAnything session welcomed AmazonĀ Product Manager, Asal Elleuch!

Asal has a proven track record of launching and managing complex products that delight customers. She’s currently the Senior Product Manager for the Amazon Prime Membership, and in the past, she was the Digital Product Lead at Thales and Senior PM at Mitchell International. Curious about how Product Managers have broken into and mastered their roles? Then join ourĀ Product ManagementĀ Slack CommunityĀ and ask them!

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Asal Elleuch loves Product Management and solving problems for customers. Sheā€™s an entrepreneurial Product Management leader with over 8 years of experience, primarily focusing on building and managing new products in the IT Software industry. Her passion is fulfilled by working with great people and using innovation to deliver great results. She has a strong understanding of the technical aspects of productĀ with the ability to manage the product development process from market opportunity to launch.

 

How do you make product decisions when you need to prioritize features and manage expectations?

This is my favorite topic. Prioritization is a never-ending and iterative process. It is constant if you are committed to delivering value. I make decisions on priority based on the impact to customer experience (am I solving a problem and if yes, how big is this for the customer?), the impact to key business metrics, and the level of effort or cost of getting this done.

As a PM, you may face the situation where ROI is hard to justify for smaller projects, but, if smaller projects are an incremental step towards a vision, then looking into the future enables value and decides priority.

What are some of your toughest moments as a PM?

Toughest moment for me was when I realized the hypothesis did not drive results as much as expected and I had to accept the failure, learn the lesson, and move fast to the next challenge (fail fast is the key to delivering the best product possible).

Can you please share your experiences working with remote teams, especially developer teams?

As a Global PM, I work with onsite and offshore development teams. Obviously, at times communication with remote teams can be tough, but thanks to the technology we are now able to remove these barriers by using online screen share, video conferencing, etc.

What I also found helpful (yet simple) is to continuously engage your remote audience in the discussion, ask questions, seek opinions, and share your documents/topics in advance of the meeting. Good luck!

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How useful is having aĀ technical background for an Amazon Product Manager? Does the technical depth vary by teams?

Requiring deep technical knowledge varies by teams. However, it’s important for PMs to understand the underlying technology for building a product and being able to distinguish the right choice from the not so right one.

When you submit your Business Requirement document, there could be a million ways to build a product, but as a PM, you should be able to spot and challenge the technical solution if it’s going to hinder your future scale, experience, and add in an unnecessary overhead cost in the long run.

Do you work with experimentation or A/B testing as a Product Manager?

Both. Sometimes it’s part of proving hypothesis before you can double down on the investment and scale of the product testing.

My role has recently shrunk down from roadmaps, user stories, technical specifications, DB/Front-end approaches, related queries, and approving specs, to simply creating epics and roadmaps. The development solution is completely handled by the dev team. Should I make a push to have more say in the details of the development or should I back off and let the devĀ team handle it?

Interesting. It sounds like your previous role was also a crossover with a Product Owner role (more in-depth of technical) and a Technical Product Manager vs. the current one seems to be more of a business Product Manager (owning the what and why – roadmap/prioritization) rather than the solution (owning the how).

I have seen it both ways, Business PMs and TPMs. It really comes down to what excites you the most and where you want to spend most of your time and energy (on identifying customer problems and generating backlog) or defining solutions for each problem.

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Do you have any tips for motivating and developing great relationships with engineers and other members of a product team?

Inclusion, on-time recognition/appreciation with business and tech leaders, and regular happy hours šŸ˜€

Some women PMs say that their ideas are discounted in a way that their male counterparts often arenā€™t. Of course, itā€™s never intentional, but unconscious bias affects us all. Has this been true in your experience? And what tips do you have for combating situations where you feel that your ideas arenā€™t being heard?

Thanks for bringing this up. I for sure have had those moments. My tip, which works for me, is to be consistent and persistent if I truly believe the idea is going to solve a bigger problem or help the business. Of course, having the rational data points will always help in any argument.

I want to start a project implementing Machine Learning and Deep Learning, and possibly, add the project to my resume. Any advice on how to approach and present this project in a way that will best attract PM hiring managers?

Machine Learning and Personalization are now a very critical topic or area of knowledge for PMs. This is primarily due to the overwhelming amount of date (a.k.a. noise to customers). So, think through conversion or success metrics that you would like to drive and how ML can expedite the learning for an algorithm to deliver the optimal outcome to customer problems.

Any final advice for aspiring Product Managers?

My last advice for aspiring Product Managers is to be an SME for your product and stay close to your customers as much as possible.

 

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