What it’s like to be a Product Manager

What it's like to be a Product Manager

Our Regional Product Management (PM) team at Shopee is the key focal point between our Business, Engineering and Design teams. Product Managers are responsible for implementing strategy, road maps and features, while adhering to business goals.

We spoke with Poppy and Sathappan, from our Search & Recommendation Product Management team, to find out what makes their careers challenging and rewarding at the same time. 

What Search & Recommendation Means at Shopee

Poppy (P): The Search & Recommendation products in Shopee connect users to what they may be looking for. Tens of millions of users are able to discover relevant and interesting products on the Shopee platform daily because of these products. 

I have a unique dual role in the PM team. As a Business product manager, I help our business team to support revenue growth while balancing user experience. My second role as a Feature PM is to help optimise user experience by coming up with new product features.

Sathappan (S): Our Search & Recommendation team is in-charge of an end-to-end product experience. The data pipeline is a crucial part behind the scene to make everything work. This includes implementing tracking, building data marts and creating data tools to ensure that our users have a smooth experience shopping on our platform. We are also building internal platforms to experiment and gain insights from customer behaviour. 

Poppy making use of the co-working space in Shopee
Poppy making use of the co-working space in Shopee

Product Management in Search & Recommendation

S: What sets our roles apart from other PM roles is that we get to see more of the end-to-end nature of user journey. The amount of data that we deal with in Search & Recommendation is enormous – just imagine having to process hundreds of millions of products! This makes our role more complex, as we have intricate needs from our stakeholders to balance.

P: I get a comprehensive view of the entire e-commerce business and work in-depth with our users (buyers and sellers), business team and technical teams. This is made possible as Search & Recommendation is one of the largest channels for orders in e-commerce platforms.

Sath at the office
Sath at the office

Key Traits of a Good Product Manager

P: The most important trait is to have user empathy by putting yourself in the shoes of your users. We need to think of how different functions affect user experience, and consider how to combine product improvements with resource commitment.

At the same time, we need to be able to understand how products work, and create improvements with our technical experts from the Engineering and UX Design teams to optimise user experience and support business growth. 

S: I believe that a good PM needs to manage the needs of various stakeholders without losing sight of our Shopee users. It’s all about striking a balance between always-in-demand developer resources and multiple features that can be built. Imagine spending a lot of time and effort on a feature that doesn’t benefit the user much, thus prioritisation is everything!

Sath and Poppy having a discussion
Sath and Poppy having a discussion

Rewarding Aspects of Being a Product Manager

P: My role requires me to understand specific knowledge about how search engines work, which I was unsure about at the start. I decided to approach this through theoretical and practical means. After reading up about search engines from books and online, I clarified what I’ve learnt with our developers in Shopee. It was not easy, but the knowledge gained helped me to do well in my work, and allowed me to forge strong bonds with my colleagues from other departments.  

S: The constant challenge that I face is saying ‘no’ to features and requests. This is a predicament that a Product Manager face often as we are the middlemen that try our best to  accommodate everyone’s needs, without compromising too much on a certain aspect. One thing I’ve learned is to rely on data for decision making when building products. This enables us to make a decision best for our users while keeping in mind our stakeholders’ requirements.

It’s rewarding to know that we get to make a direct impact on what our Shopee end users experience. Search & Recommendation is after all the most crucial discovery pathway for our customers to search what they need. 

A Career in Search & Recommendation PM

S: Our Search & Recommendation team is at the forefront of user journeys for most of our customers. Buyers get relevant products fast and sellers can reach customers with clear intent to purchase through the products that we build. Because of this, we help to drive a significant percentage of orders for the Shopee platform. This is the kind of high impact work that you’ll get to do at Shopee, and is something that makes my job exciting. 

P: My advice to interested candidates is to join with a sense of wonder. Things evolve quickly in e-commerce and if problem solving is your forte, you’ll be able to make a real lasting impact on users.

Sath & Poppy from our Search & Recommendation PM team
Sath & Poppy from our Search & Recommendation PM team

Inspired by Poppy and Sath’s experience at Shopee? Join the Search & Recommendation Product Management team here.

Curious about where your item came from, or how your item got to you so fast when ordering something online? Check out our Supply Chain Product Management feature here.

Start Your Journey as a Product Manager with Shopee’s Company-Led Training (CLT) programme 

In collaboration with IMDA, our Company-Led Training (CLT) programme is a specialised programme for our full-time Singaporean employees to upskill and enhance their experiences at Sea and Shopee. You’ll undergo six months of on-the-job and structured training, as well as be assigned a mentor within the same department, who will support your journey.

Open to both Singaporean fresh graduates and mid-career professionals, you can join our CLT programme by applying to any full-time roles relating to Product Management, Software Engineering, User Experience Design or Business/Data Analytics at Shopee. Find out more about the CLT programme here.

*All photos were taken before the start of Phase 2 (Heightened Alert) and in compliance with the requirements for Safe Management Measures at the workplace.

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