ResourcesBlogFeatured Product Management Consultant: Joe Ghali

Featured Product Management Consultant: Joe Ghali


For this featured interview from our Consultant Interviews Series we have Joe Ghali, who shares with us his best advice for a Product Management organization, and talks about how he went from an IT career to realizing Product Management was what he wanted to do.

How and why did you break into Product Management?

Originally, I started in IT. It’s what I went to college for. However, I soon found out that sitting alone and coding for eight hours a day wasn’t my jam. I needed to be around people because I am an extrovert. A few years out of college, I was in account management for a small online travel startup. It was a lot of fun, because I was pulled into meetings with business leaders. I would leave wondering about the “why” behind their decisions. After a while, I asked a colleague who was a Product Manager if I could be their mentee. I wanted to understand their world.  

After a month, I realized that’s what I wanted to do. It was a no-brainer because my colleague spent most of her day working with customers, sitting with customer service, listening to customer calls, and coming up with ideas to help improve her products. She spent a significant amount of time working with her suppliers (hoteliers, airlines etc.) to understand their pain points. I was instantly in love with Product Management. To get more knowledge, I decided to go back to college and get my MBA with a focus on Product Marketing. During grad school, I was able to convince my employer to let me do “pet” Product Manager projects at work (that I used for school). This gave me the practical experience I needed to get my job as a Product Manager once graduate school was over. 

What are some experiences you can share working with notable products and companies? 

I was fortunate to work for a rather significant online publisher in the early 2010s. At the time I started, the iPad had just launched. Within a few years, the first mobile responsive websites were launching, and most organizations were building their first mobile applications. Technology was moving at a crazy speed, and we had to keep up! I was very fortunate to be at the forefront of our organization’s first mobile application (one million downloads in six months) and we got to re-launch the website using a brand-new mobile web platform. I was so much fun! I had my hands on many of the first- and second- generation tablets and smart phones. We were even the first online publisher to launch our magazine titles. 

Working in Fintech was very enlightening. I went from lightning-fast to molasses-slow. This was an organization that hadn’t redesigned their website since the Reagan administration (kidding). However, it was here that I re-launched our online client portal. This time, we had to coordinate with four vendors at the same time. At the time I arrived, the average time it took to log on was over eight seconds. Can you imagine that?  This particular experience was very educational because of the purposeful communication and teamwork needed to relaunch the online portal. It took a very strong relationship with IT, Marketing, Customer Service, Legal, and Operations. We all needed to be working together very closely to achieve the site launch. After the first launch, we had a modern, lightning-fast and appealing online customer portal that really helped to accelerate the business’s online private wealth management initiatives. 

What is something that a Product Manager can start doing today to be more strategic? 

I mentioned in the earlier example that it takes a village for a successful product launch. The most important thing you can do to be more strategic is to share your knowledge with your Product Owner and Development team. Walk them through your vision, who your personas are, what their pain points are, the value of solving their problems, and the impact it will have on the organization. Ask for their feedback continuously to fine-tune your roadmap. Make them feel like they have a strong voice by continuously sharing your roadmap with not only your Development team, but key stakeholders in the organization. Remind them of the “who” and “why” behind your decision, and make sure they are aligned on the outcomes you want to achieve with your product. 

What can a Product leader start doing now to up-level their team? 

Start making product decisions using data! 

Gather as much customer feedback, analytics, and qualitative data from your customers to help drive the decisions you make as a team. Make sure you bring in Customer Service and Sales when you do this. Show them this is how you make product decisions within the team. This will create a culture and expectation that you are customer centric (which you should be, because that’s what it means to be a Product Manager!) 

What’s your best advice for a Product Management organization? 

Be clear about the roles and responsibilities on your Product team. This is one of the main reasons products fail: everyone is trying to be a superhero. There needs to be a clear definition of roles and responsibilities, especially between a Product Manager and Product Owner. Each role is so incredibly important. I always recommend that new teams create a team working agreement along with a DACI to explain who has authority. That being said, although there is accountability with each role, there needs to be a culture built around being ONE team. It isn’t about IT vs. the business. It’s about being customer–centric and making sure you are able to address customer obstacles to not only delight your users but provide positive outcomes for the organization.  

Can you easily discern if confusion is looming around the roles and responsibilities of your product professionals? Or perhaps the strength in your individual contributors is solid but that ONE team is lacking the right synergy and culture. Many Product Management teams find themselves burdened by insufficient role and decision-making clarity. That’s where 280 Group can help. 280 Group’s Product Management consulting team has helped hundreds of companies transform their Product Management organizations to achieve the next level of excellence. Let’s start the conversation about yours.

Joe Ghali
February 08, 2022