When Prolific reached out to me about leading a product team in their San Francisco office, I had never considered working for an agency. After college, I jumped straight from my engineering program into an ecommerce startup based in San Diego. Moving back to the Bay Area, where I grew up, it was my intention to stay in startups, diving further into the community that defines the tech scene here.
Curiosity, more than anything else, motivated me to take the interview. Arriving at the office, it was hard to ignore the pleasant atmosphere, the light streaming through the large windows and the casual camaraderie as everyone sat down to lunch at the office’s picnic table. Talking through my experiences and the expectations of the role with Pat and Joe, I was surprised to discover how compatible my startup experience was with the innovative atmosphere of a digital agency.
It’s been six weeks since I joined Prolific as a Product Manager and I could not be happier with my decision.
Building from the ground up
One of the most exciting challenges I can face as a PM is starting from scratch on a new product; at Prolific, I get to do that on every project. It’s both invigorating and a little frightening to scope and plan an entire app, but it also means that I get to learn how to do things right the first time. I am free to experiment with new work styles and organizational flows to determine the process that works best for me and for my team. Most importantly, the open culture here makes it easy to learn from every failure and success, both others’ and my own.
Everyone is client-facing
I am expected to understand my client, their industry, and the business challenges they face to make sure the product we deliver meets all of their goals. While Prolific has account managers for every project, all phases of our work are open to the client and almost every meeting includes stakeholders from their internal team. While this presence means we are always aligned with our client’s needs, it also requires me to maintain a constant dialogue around the decisions we make and the reasons by which we make them. Further, while team dynamics are important to every project, the openness of our work necessitates an extra degree of closeness between product, design, and engineering. The alignment between these core product areas not only improves the quality of our overall work, but drives us to become stronger contributors and communicators individually as well.
When working in-house, I would never have the time or resources to implement every new trend or technology that comes along; at Prolific, that is exactly what our clients hire us to do. We are constantly looking for better workflows and tools to improve our work process. The freedom to experiment with both tools and processes keeps me from getting fixated on a single approach. I see the value in being able to adapt to each new technology, especially as the pace of development in mobile product seems to get ever faster. Further, we are required to become subject matter experts in the tools we use, often onboarding client engineers and designers to use our process even after our scope of work is completed. From team dynamics to planning tools, I’ve learned a lot in my short time at Prolific, but, more importantly, I’m excited for all of the lessons to come.