Product Management Director
What do you do professionally?
As a Product Management Director at Google, I lead the overall product strategy for our Ads business across the EMEA region. My role is based in London, and I'm helping to make sure Google's Ads products are appropriately built and commercialized for this particular region. I've been in a product management role now for over 15 years working exclusively for technology companies.
What is the most enjoyable part of your job?
I really enjoy the traveling component of my job. I get to travel very frequently around the EMEA region, and I really enjoy meeting our customers along with representing Google in-region.
What is the biggest challenge you face?
Time zones. We're a fairly big company now, and often times our development efforts require coordination across multiple offices. That, combined with time zone challenges of working for a company based in California can make this quite challenging, especially from Europe! But at the same time, the company has embraced distributed offices from the early days, so I think we do a great job managing this complexity. It also helps us continue to hire the best and brightest without having to move people around the world.
What sorts of interesting places has your position taken you? Do you have a favorite?
It's hard to pick an absolute favorite, but as far as interesting places go I've had a chance to visit Turkey and Russia recently which are two of our newer markets we're focused on. We're also starting to work with a few of the larger emerging markets in Africa, and I had a chance to visit Uganda last year. There I was able to meet with a large group of software developers and talk about how to apply our innovation principles to their organizations. It was an amazing country of contrasts.
What is the best professional advice you've received?
Embrace risk and go fast. I think it's especially prescient advice today where companies need to act quickly and decisively or else get left behind. We have a saying in product management that if you deliver the perfect solution to market, it's probably too late. Too many companies live life as a post-mortem.
Aside from your current role, what is your dream job?
That's a tough question. I love my job and the product management field in general which is why I've been doing it for so long. But if I could have been something else, I would have been a military pilot. I love flying, and aside from the dangers associated with such a profession, it would be incredible to fly state-of-the-art military aircraft for a living.
What do you like to do outside of work?
Well since I couldn't be a military pilot, I'm actually an amateur private pilot, and I try to fly as often as I can. Unfortunately since moving overseas I haven't been able to fly at all, but I'll aim to fix that when it comes time to move back to the U.S.
What is the most important thing you learned during your time at Fuqua?
In the Global Executive MBA (GEMBA) program, the distance portion of our courses required a lot of teamwork to coordinate the numerous assignments we had to deliver. The program managers deliberately composed teams to include members in different time zones. In our team we had members from the U.S., Germany, and Japan which made it really tricky because someone was always having to wake up early or stay up late. But I think it taught us all how to work effectively in such an environment, and as I mentioned earlier, it is absolutely critical in my current role to be able to manage people across multiple time zones.
Who was your favorite professor?
I really enjoyed Decision Sciences with Bob Clemen. It was a challenging course, but he made it super-interesting, and it was probably one of the most relevant courses to my role today.
What is your favorite Fuqua memory?
I loved the entire GEMBA experience, though I'd have to say, the experience of having our residencies across the world was the best part for me. It gave us a chance to really be immersed around the globe and also see some really neat places. Having the chance to build bikes for young children in China would probably stand out as a particularly fond memory of my time at Fuqua. For those kids, simply having a bike transformed their lives. And it gave us perspective.
What does Team Fuqua mean to you?
Team Fuqua is a great community of people. In London we have an alumni group that gets together fairly often, and I still keep in touch with a number of my classmates. Often times I'll be in random cities and via social networks I'll get a note saying something like, "Are you in Munich?" and then we'll figure out a time to meet up for coffee. We've all had a fantastic shared experience at Fuqua and the best part is that we continue to carry it with us no matter where we go.