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This was an exclusive Q&A session to give you a chance to ask every question you’ve ever had, with Inbal Reichman Cohen, Facebook's Product Manager.
She answers questions from "How did you become a Product Manager?" to Facebook vs. Amazon - How do they compare?" This is for the curious minds who want to break into product and hear from someone who already has.
What is Inbal’s definition of Product
- Liaison between Business & Engineer
- CEO or Owner of Product
- Gathering requirements from customers,
- Product Strategy - what should be developed,
execution of strategy
- ‘Influence without authority’
What makes a Good vs. Great PM?
- Best Product Managers: ambiguous problems
into tangible plans
How did you become a product manager?
- Inbal’s story
- Israeli Army, worked as software engineer
- Managed team of product managers
- Inbal: Diverse backgrounds, multiple paths to
- Taking on more responsibilities, getting
recognized for their work by managers
- Inbal: Think broadly about what you’re doing
- Ask your PM for projects
What are the differences between Project
and Product Mgmt?
- Project Manager - the ‘How’, coordination,
execution, shipping deliverables,
technicalities of getting work done
- Product Manager - the ‘What’, responsible for
results, providing direction for team, shipping
How does Marketing work with Product
- Role of PM is to utilize knowledge on team to
build right product
- Marketing team: opportunity to grab market
- PM: this is where we’re best position based
on talent, technology, etc.
- The one making the decision on where to go with
What did you have to unlearn to become a
- Doing all of it on your own
- Learn to delegate
- Don’t micromanage
Facebook vs. Amazon, how do they
- Amazon: hires business people for PM roles
- Bay Area market prefers technical backgrounds for
PM, varies by role and company
- Facebook: prefer technical background for
- Caveat of people with varied backgrounds
- Daily work: Product team is on same side
- KPI’s defined by success of team
What happens when product or feature
- Assessment of PM
- PM’s get credit for product success, take
responsibility for product failure
- Amazon: new product, 9 months later shuts
- VP got fired
- Too long before showing results
- Team realigned within org, moved onto next
- Viability: is this product going to work?
How do you know when you’re on the cusp
of critical mass?
- ‘That’s why PM’s make the big bucks!’
- MVP: finding market fit quickly
- Fail quickly: asking really hard questions..if
this works then what?
- ‘Where do we go from here?’
- Leverage your team to maximize results of
For PM: how do you persuade your bosses?
- Company vision and goals
- ‘How does this product get us there?’
- Type - Logical, Data, Emotions, Intuition
How do you manage working on a product
that you know is going to fail?
- @ Amazon, Inbal worked with Principal PM,
wanting to work with him on Strategy
- Show your way of thinking before, during, and
after the project
How to transition from QA to Product?
- Facebook: all about initiative
- Engineer take part in product discussions
- Research session with customers
What are tools you use for data and
- Facebook uses internal tools
- Ask the right questions, and how to answer
- Tools are similar across every company
What’s the Facebook PM hiring process?
- Three tracks:
- General Product Manager
- Two phone interviews
- Product sense: Design, Decisions, Prioritization
- Execution: Metrics, Questions to ask (Data),
- Three onsite interviews
- Product Sense
- Leadership and drive: hardships, motivation,
- Specific-role PM
- Interview with team, e.g. Facebook’s Games
How do you choose between different
- Tradeoffs: e.g. investing time and technical
debt into one feature vs. another… is it worth
- No right answer
- ‘There’s no way Marketing will let this ship’
What does your typical day look like?
- Varies by team
- PM’s can work on customer-facing or internal
- Can work on their own or with a huge team
- Checking dashboards
How does idea start?
- Top-down: strategic initiatives
- E.g. Presenting to Mark
- Autonomy: self-started by PM
- Amazon vs. Facebook = similar in how to
- More often teams are already established
Do you have any examples of roadmaps?
- Facebook: 6 month roadmaps
- No organized template
- Press release
How much data are you leveraging at
- Upside: easy to track, find metrics
- Downside: paralysis by analysis, ‘data will tell
us what to do’, forgetting about intuition
Interpreting data is just as important as the data
You’ve done everything you can to be a PM,
what makes the cut?
- Do people around you trust you? Is someone
rooting for you?
- Internal transfer @ Facebook goes through
same process as external, except they are
much more familiarized with product, team,
- Interviews are objective as possible -
knowledge, ways of thinking
Do you need a diverse (international) team
to build good products?
- @Facebook: diverse mindsets
- Gender, country, background, etc
How to collaborate with other PM’s on
different product lines?
- Relationship building
- Understanding each team’s needs
- What’s more important for Org?
- @Facebook: bootcamp, meeting PM’s in free
time before she needed anything
What are internal products at Facebook?
- Infrastructure/Technical, e.g. FB Ads
March 1: Growth, explained by
Zynga’s Director of Product