In this guest post, UC Berkeley student Alexandria Storm recounts her experience shadowing Glenn Block, a leader in the product management space.
Alexandria Storm is a Sophomore at UC Berkeley. This summer she was a Software Engineering Intern at Azuqua and redesigned a feature on the Web UI and completed an open-source project for the Google CodeU Program. She is passionate about diversity in Technology and Business and additionally writes about her experiences in Technology on her Medium blog.
In this guest post, she recaps her experience shadowing Glenn Block in his day to day workflow.
Glenn Block is the senior director of Product Management for Extend by Auth0 located in Bellevue, Washington. Extend is an embedded scripting environment for enabling customization and integration of SaaS applications. It allows companies to rapidly address their customers’ needs, without features having to hit the product backlog which makes their products more sticky and have higher retention.
Glenn has many years of software development and product management experience with a passion for engaging with customers and addressing their needs to drive improvements to product development.
This summer I reached out and asked if I could job shadow him because I wanted to learn more about Product Management and its intersection of Business, Leadership, and Technology. He was kind enough to set aside an entire day to show me his daily routine, Auth0’s company culture, and World Product Day.
I first visited Glenn in a WeWork in downtown Seattle and got a taste of the company’s remote work culture. Auth0 is a unique startup because it has over 300 people in 30 different countries. This creates an international presence and global perspective, having headquarters in Bellevue, Buenos Aires, and London.
Remote work culture is often highly beneficial for businesses, creating a diversification of thought and talent by permitting employees the flexibility of location. - @axstorm24
Remote work culture is often highly beneficial for businesses, creating a diversification of thought and talent by permitting employees the flexibility of location. Glenn has the flexibility of working either at the Bellevue office or his space in downtown Seattle on a daily basis.
At the WeWork, we discussed the difference between Product and Program management and the varying levels of technological involvement. While Product Management focuses on the what and why of building a product, Program management focuses on how things get created.
Product Management focuses on business needs; which may include:
- familiarity with customer desires and difficulties
- planning features of the product
- and collaboration with outside departments
Program Management is responsible for the execution; which includes things like:
- assessing risk
- scheduling the implementation
- analyzing the overall scope of the project
With the company’s goals in mind, they must help deliver a product that is not only valuable to the business but feasible for the engineering team to build.
I joined in on a design meeting via Zoom with Yavor Georgiev to discuss how Auth0 Extend utilizes business metrics. It was fascinating to get an inside look into how Software companies use technical metrics for measuring customer retention and attrition.
It was fascinating to get an inside look into how Software companies use technical metrics for measuring customer retention and attrition. - @axstorm24
Yavor presented a plan during the meeting for what needed to be captured and where the product should be instrumented.
Glenn, Yavor, and I then visited the Bellevue office where I met several people at Auth0 including Lewis Carpenter, the CMO, Tomek Janczuk the VP of Extend, Mike FitzBaxter, the head of content, and many others.
I additionally met James Bang, a Marketing Operations Manager. I spoke to him about his responsibilities. It was interesting to me that although he was in Marketing, his job is extremely technical, thus reinforcing the notion that having a technical background is very advantageous in outside disciplines.
I also joined a strategy discussion with Glenn and his boss Tomek. We discussed some important topics around our organizational communication. Since Auth0 has a remote work culture, a lot of interactions are dependant on strong communication on Slack. The platform has its challenges, including organizing and prioritizing channels. Tomek and Glenn discussed how to use focused channels for more specific topics to make content easier to navigate.
To wrap up the day, I got to join Glenn for Bellevue’s World Product Day event. There were some fantastic speakers, for example, Ron Lichty, author of Managing the Unmanageable: Rules, Tools, and Insights for Managing Software People and Teams.
Ron is a Senior Software Engineering Leader and Product Development Consultant for companies. He described his best practices for managing teams, including examples from his experiences, for instance when he was a Senior Manager of the Apple Macintosh UX Engineering team. He emphasized that software development is, bottom-line, about delivering, and nothing is harder than producing quality software on time and budget.
Software development is, bottom-line, about delivering, and nothing is harder than producing quality software on time and budget. - Ron Lichty
Will talked about his path to leadership. He shared his story of how he started the company and how working in a startup often comes with moments of failure and mistakes.
Despite these obstacles, he kept with his vision for his product and learned to adapt to the market and adjust upon trial and error. Overall, entrepreneurship is for the resilient and those who do not fear failure.
Overall it was a great day and an excellent opportunity to see Auth0 and Extend’s company culture and daily operations. I met some great people, and I applaud Glenn for his active efforts to increase diversity in technology and his organization of Bellevue World Product Day.
Having a fun day hanging out with @axstorm24 and having a shadow for the day. We’re talking all things Product and Tech, and exploring how we work at @goextend. #mentoring #womeninSTEM pic.twitter.com/Kk52HS28Gh— 007 (@gblock) May 23, 2018