Product Managers: what they do and why we need them

A look into the role, the Product Principles that guide our work, and the hiring process for Product Managers at Nubank

(In collaboration with Jose Junior)

“Good product managers have a unique combination of skills. They are team players and exercise leadership without authority, can communicate effectively in different contexts, and can cut through the noise and extract what is important to provide a clear vision and priority to the team.”

Marcelo Ramalho, Product Manager at Nubank

At Nubank, Product Managers (PMs) are key players in building great products and delivering them to our customers. The PM role offers many opportunities for someone who is data-informed, passionate about technology, and thrives in the challenge of communicating across multifunctional teams. However, because product management is still very much a nascent discipline in Brazil, hiring new team members at Nubank can be quite challenging.

This article will delve into what it means to be an effective product manager at Nubank and why it is such an essential job in our organization.

So, without further ado, let’s get started with a few of the basics!

What are PMs in charge of?

Product Managers are in charge of building products with the team to achieve main business objectives and solve customers’ needs. In summary, they are responsible for the speed and quality of the team’s decisions to maximize impact.

Product Managers are involved in every stage of a product’s life cycle. Below, you can see our Building Blocks for Product Management along with the questions we make when building a product:

  • Start by asking why. Why are we building this product? What is the problem we are trying to solve? What job are customers hiring us to do? What are the customers’ pain points? Is the problem aligned with Nubank’s vision? How big is this problem? Why is this a problem? Why is it important to solve? What happens if we don’t solve this problem?
  • Define the product: What is the product we want to build to solve the identified problem? Who is going to use it? What hypothesis are we validating? How do we know if it is successful? Is this product feasible and viable? Does everyone involved in the development of this product understand the problems we want to solve?
  • Development planning: We want to always deliver value to our customers, and this is why development planning is so important. Which MVP can we build to test if the problem can be solved? How can we deliver value incrementally? Which are the most important features to work on first? How will launch and release communication work? Do we have a rollout plan?
  • Development support: We are always thinking a couple of steps ahead of potential issues and trying to remove the obstacles from the team’s path. From providing product specification to covering missing functions, we do anything that needs to be done to deliver the product.

“As Product Managers, we support our teams so they can deliver the right products for our customers and company. This includes clarifying implementation requirements, unblocking team members and doing anything to get the product shipped, from customer support training to writing some lines of code”, says André Tavares.

  • Monitoring: After launching a new product, we need to make sure everything is working well. Are our services healthy? Is everybody comfortable to extend the solution to more customers? What’s our rollback strategy?
  • Measure results: What did we learn throughout development, launch, and monitoring? Did we solve the problem? Are customers using the product? Are they happy with our product? What are the improvements we need to make?
  • And the cycle repeats.

Product Principles

We have 3 Product Principles that represent how we make decisions and how we build our products at Nubank.

Our Product Principles at Nubank.

1- Build for long-term customer relationships

We always put our customers first and make sure that we’re prioritizing the long-term benefit of our customers above all else.

2- Great products come from great teams

We believe the best products come from working collaboratively with the team: from respecting everyone’s opinion and getting the most out of a diverse and strong team.

3- Seek and share clarity

We, as Product Managers, are always looking for clarity. We need to have a clear understanding of the problems we want to solve, and it’s important to share this clarity within and across teams to align the entire company.

Nubank’s PM Hiring Process

The profession is now becoming popular, which is exciting news since we are now seeing a new generation of young professionals who are passionate about product development. Product managers usually come from one of these three backgrounds: computer science, business strategy, or design/UX, but this is not a requirement. Product Managers can come from diverse backgrounds, and often people who are passionate about technology have worked in roles that are close to it.

At Nubank, we are looking for team-oriented people who understand the product development cycle and can think like a customer. Strong communication skills, clear and structured thinking, an execution mindset, and the ability to learn our business quickly are also important qualities.

“A good PM should have good communication and leadership skills, be an enthusiastic person, team worker, data-driven, and have experience with technology/UX -says Augusto Mazzoni Pierzynski, Product Manager at Nubank-. Understanding of agile methodologies, multifunctional teams, and experience working with short/long-term product roadmap and how to measure their results (using OKRs or any other model) are critical.”

We are currently assessing these skills by doing several interviews and a case where the candidate is challenged with a product problem and walks us through a high-level idea of the product development — from the strategy definition to the product implementation.

When talking to candidates, we try to understand their future role and how well they could interact with their teams (including analysts, developers, designers, and other stakeholders). For more senior profiles, we like to delve deeper into the candidate’s leadership experience and strategic thinking.

During technical interviews, we pay attention to how candidates talk about both their experience with product management and their passion for it.

The case presentation is the most critical part of our recruitment process since we put the candidate in a situation where we ask them to make decisions about the implementation of a new product without giving much context or data. The case is very helpful to give us an idea of how a candidate would behave and perform when facing a situation that is similar to the ones we experience at Nubank. The right candidate typically communicates clearly and concisely, can make decisions in uncertain scenarios, and has a good understanding of product fundamentals, such as building an MVP, how to measure success, etc.

Gabriela Rojas, a Product Manager at Nubank says that “good product managers excel in three different aspects. They are good listeners and have enough empathy to understand customers’ needs deeply. They are great communicators and can efficiently encapsulate those needs in a vision for the product while adapting their speech to different stakeholders. And finally, they bring focus to the team, which means PMs set clear goals (and link those goals to the business), keep the team’s work prioritized, and are constantly measuring products’ impact.”

Product Managers at Nubank.

Nubank has an ambitious vision: to be the most influential financial services company in the world. We want to do that by building great products that empower people by removing complexity from their lives. If you want to join this mission and feel that our principles and culture fit with you, check out our Product Manager positions.

(Thanks to Fuad Saud and Hugh Strange.) 

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