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#GirlsWhoProduct with Anabela Cesário, Director of the Product Operations at OutSystems

by Productized Podcast
October 2nd 2020
Listen to this podcast and get to know Anabela Cesário, Director of the Product Operations team at Outsystems. She arrived at OutSystems in 2016 to bootstrap the Product Ownership practice, leading 14... More
girls product tells the stories of amazing women to inspire others to follow their path in the product area. This project is supported by Zalando. Hi, everyone. Welcome to the ninth episode off Season three of Cross the Product Podcasts Growth Product is a Siri's off interviews with women that have been able to beat the ceiling and become successful makers, entrepreneurs, agents of change and the mission of growth of product. Podcast has always been to inspire connects, empower more people to get them into product rolls and to help them through their product management custom, you know, and and journey. Our guest today is Annabella. Sorry. Welcome, Annabella on band, My name is Andrea Marquis and the founder of product ties, and I'll be your host today. Our guest, of course, is Annabella. Sorry. When Abella is, uh, product upset out systems. And let me just give you a short

into about Annabella because she is very, um, experience in the in the trade. And Avella studied management and computer science at university that Zunino in the north of Portugal before then moving to Lisbon and starting toe work on I t consulting for General Electric and then North Abbas. She has been managing large teams and complex projects in the financial industry. And in 2000 and 16 she decided to join out systems as platform program manager, where she has been recently promoted to director of product operations and about a welcome and thank you for being with us today. Um, it's really it's really an opportunity, a great honor to have this chance to understand a little bit better what, its product ops and and just dive into that. And I'll simple have plenty of time to take that. Um, but But first, let me ask

you what? What made you take, um, stem course in this case going into I t management at the university? Okay, first of all, and thank you for having me here. It's a pleasure to be here. Okay, I think the decision started back in high school. E think back then, we didn't have Internet and personal computers were starting to appear, so I was really, really fascinated by this new technology. And of course, I want to have a personal computer toe the stuff, right? So that that that was backing a long, long time ago. Still in the nineties were already in the 2000 eighties. Oh, teaching the eighties. So and okay. And I remember that I was completely fascinated for the i t. And then I decided toe go for it. And I can tell you

that I never regretted a single day until today on we have the other parts of the management part. It that part comes from a passion. Um, psychology. I always like to help people and suggest you can understand. Among my friends, I was the group advisory. Everyone they had had a problem is to come with me for advice and tow us for my help. And now a day is the leader. Uh, I feel that the leadership part helps me to explore also this part e need to talk with people. I need to advise them. I need to help them. And curiously, I know that why I'm helping them. I'm also helping myself. So I think for me this mix off product. Sorry, product management. Uh, I t management and management. It's it's really, uh, good mix for me, Okay. And and 11 of one of the things which I think is really

curious, is when he when he finished your course. And considering that you come from the north of Portugal, you have to offer is right. You have one offering one job offer in Porto and one job offer in Lisbon. You ended up in Lisbon. So why was that? Okay, I think what got me was the project okay? Back then, the idea off working in the consultancy company, working in all the software products off software, life cycle in all the faces was really, really attracted to me. Imagine, from from the beginning I would start working with business analysts gathering customer requirements. Then I would work also with architect designing the solution. Oh, I would also called a bit and develop some part off the software. And then at the end, off the life cycle, I would also give some training to the users of our application, help

the rollout off the project and also the mindedness. So for me, it was very, very challenging. And back then, the majority of my colleagues on Lee received the offers to coat, and I thought, okay, but I can code. But in here I can do a lot of stuff, so I choose this part. Um, e think that waas and sorry and you can, as you can see, once again, diabetes and management are taking a role in my decisions. I also just and I have another thing that I remember now that it was the company, um, the company in Lisbon wasa subsidiary off the General Electric Group. And I was very excited to tow work. Even that very, very far away with Jack felt that, as all of you know, was the best manager off the 20th century. So I was really, really

excited with that. Okay, So Jack Wells for the win on Ben, you eventually moved to Nova Bus. And I guess with a new set of challenges eso when you look back, do you have or do you feel you will do something different in those early days off your career? Or do you think moving? Um, you know, out of General Electric and then going into pure I t consultancy was the right move for you all This is a very good and difficult question. Let me think a little bit. I think it's difficult for me. It's difficult to answer to you because I believe that we are the reflects off the experience that we had in the past, and I think I believe that I had to have that experience. So I become the professional that I am today. But if I had to choose one thing, probably I would have probably. I would like to have the guts

to question more the needle off doing all nighters for a huge and important project with an impossible you diet back then and in the beginning, in the beginning, off the consultancy inward thought that you need to do this kind of things you need to work night. It's important because it's a very, very important project now I know. And I learned it in the hard way that there are other ways of doing it. There are techniques. For instance, one very, very simple is you can plan in advance on devoid all of these. But I also know NFL that you you know that you came up with possibility off running a first league program s o. Do you want to tell us that story a little bit more? Oh, damn. Yeah, I can't. Okay, so But first I think I can e should share with you that I have, ah, strength off motivate myself

during the hard times and one technique that I used to do that it's always having a clear goal to follow and that back then, the goal waas Oh, I want to be a very, very good product manager and project manager So I can run a firstly process project a project where I would be surrounded by the best people. I would have a huge budget and the bubble. I would have a huge, huge and big challenge. And after some years managing projects, did they came. They offered me the possibility off lead a huge project for Portugal. At it was a Portuguese project with more than 150 people. So it was a good project and I was well, they arrived. Soul amazing. I have almost everything that I want, so we start work. But very quickly I realized

that I had all of that. But the problems to problems they were the same. But Ted bigger scale. For instance, our customer bought a Wanda, but he wanted the Ferrari. Uh, I had the budget that I always dream, but the resources cars. I couldn't be surrounded by old best because they are I have under myself, and it's actually a good car. So sometimes e you can you can stay with the under. Um, but but But I guess you know, at times that those teams were mostly at, at least in those times, if I remember correctly and, you know, I I started working in, you know, consulting. Back in the early two thousands, teams were mostly made off up off, man. And you say that you felt a little bit like a fish among the sharks. So you want to tell us, Did you have any kind of clash? Was it egos

? What kind of stories did you have from those days? Okay, I have some, but I don't want toe specifically talk about one, but I think I can explain you imagine that you are me and bringing the man's world with old. The decisions were made by man, and I enter there, and I had to deal with all these, uh, strange conversations with all these much attitude I heard several times old software is not We don't have a woman. Good software engineers in Portugal or in the world way. Don't have good women software software engineers. E heard it sometimes, but and sometimes I felt that I was the elephant in the room. But still they accepted because I was. My project had success

. I mainly achieved the goals and the company goals so and the customers like me. So I was kind of accepted. But sometimes I felt like the elephant. What, what? As time went by, it was very good to see more women's appears. In the meetings, I start to realize that we were recognized as a good project managers, business analysts also program managers and and even leaders. So asking your question and what I can highlight is that nowadays I don't feel that anymore. Nowadays, I'm truly, truly, truly happy because I'm surrounded by a lot of diversity in genders and in roles, and I don't feel that anymore. So it's, I think the world improved. Uh um, eso in 2000 and 16, you actually moved throughout system So and I think in

in only five months as you were invited to create the product ownership team, a practice that at the time was starting to be installed in Portugal. And you know eso how how did you develop this area? How did you have any prior experience Or you had to kind of learn on the job just to to go take it from there? Yeah, I use some of my previous experience, but I also learned on the job I started by learned a lot about product management to understand the practice. I remember that I got some inspiration from Roman. Uh, yeah, it was a speaker actually here with us in 2000 and 15 years. Probably about the book strategized, right? I read the book and it's very good because he explains very well the main product management concepts from product vision to strategy until roadmap definition and execution. So and he also gives some templates and some techniques, So I like it a lot

. And regarding the product ownership area, I was already a scram alliance scrum masters. So I understood the product management role on I remember that I had to work with the head of product to define the jobs to be done, uh, by patrol, the PM and peel. But what I think that really made the difference. Waas the our North Star. We define it that we would have a shared north start. We would work toe, build a product that customers off, uh, and bringing the customer for so the center of our work. So I think that worked very well. And then e think I remember that they everything that happened in two or three months it was completely crazy. Higher the purpose, the mission. But now I need the people so way had toe Higher way needed seven pills by the end of September

, and we hired some internal from engineer that already knew the product. And then you we hired some diversity outside people with the Pew experience. So it was amazing, I can tell you that I really, really like those times. Uh, for me, it was a new beginning. After all, I had a career and a lot of experience, a new beginning with within a product like company and with a very demanding team because they were all very demanding. I remember the Apollo Cruzado giving a talk maybe 10 years ago on on an event that we have organized in 2000 and nine, actually, and at the time he was being very, very bullish on customer. You know what we would call today a customer success or customer experience on Bond. And I guess having a new, inspiring CEO that really understands customer

experience and having a product that people love is super super important as well. Um, which Which takes me Thio. My other question, which is in April this year, I guess in the middle, off the pandemic, or at least the first wave Um, there was the the entry of this new VP of product at Out Systems, and you were invited tow Launch the new product operations team. So what is product operations exactly? I think there's still lots of people saying, you know, company A says it's this company B says the same. But at least give us your own definition and within out systems. How do you guys see product operations? Exactly? Okay, I think I can start by saying that you can think about any other operations area and the main goal of a new operation area is to improve the efficiency off the team in our case, at out systems with me, our mission is to build a foundation

for product excellence and how we do this. We help the product management build product, the right product and the engineering building. The product writes off, building the right product and building the product Right on. Do we are here in the intersection off these two areas, helping them and for 2020 our main outcomes Our toe. The first one is toe improve the communication with the internal, on the external stakeholders and by stakeholders. I'm talking about customers, partners, our sales team hours in a women's team, customer success, all of their stakeholders. And the second one more internal is to really continues improving the efficiency off our product system and byproducts system. I mean, the tools, the processes, training people, reporting product metrics, all of that stuff that needs toe be

much more efficient at scale. And that systems is now in the face off scale grow in hyper growth. But we need to do this and we need tohave this area. So yeah, and when you're going that fast, you you also have to train people and make sure that you know they are up for the job. So last year, you you took the course. The product management is active program at TCL Uh, which I I believe it's just one week, right or five days? It's a leadership program. Do you recommend it to to anyone who wants to develop and and become product leader? So how was your personal experience with it? I do. I do. I don't recommend it. I like it. It was very one week that I like it and it was in person. So you actually, you were in the campus inside the campus. It's It's very good. And it has a good atmosphere and you are surrounded by peers and even

probably sea levels and all the people. Uh, they have an amazing curriculum. The teachers are good, but also they have very, very good speakers. For instance, we had lectures with one off the LinkedIn founders. We had, for instance, also lectures with one off the Jeff businesses from Amazon Director Report. It was a girl, and during a working a group session, she shared it, does the story off the Kindle, and it was so funny to see how they work. Really, when they think about vision they defined okay, I want to grow 100 times more and all really this difficult, but make senses. And even they told us that they immediate, for they tried to experiment. 50 ideas and the only one or tow go on board, go for a project. So it was really

good. Also, I think the the networking there, it's very good you met a lot of people. You talk, you share experiences and then you you have a network that you can use outside. I had in the discourse. Also CPOs. Back then it was, I think it's a new role, but now it's more developed, at least more informed, and it really makes sense to me and to understand how they look, as has a project as a whole. It's, uh, and they are aware off all the areas off the company on not only the product as head of product. Sometimes he's more focused. So I really, really enjoy it. And I can say to you that I was so excited that I know I need toe make a sabbatical license and I need to hear to make an MBA. But and then I went to see the prices and so on, and that's not okay

. This can wait a little bit more because things are changing now, right? I guess that you you have heard the the announcement off this, uh, new foundation by the founder of far fetched right Suzanne EVs on. And they are now sponsoring MBA programs and other kinds of executive programs. And not just executive, but also computer science engineering with this ISA model, which is you Onley pay when you get a job. Um and, you know, maybe maybe this is just your personal take, but still going into education, but not leadership with education, which would be your case, but more basic training. Andi, how are you guys? You know, out system out systems dealing with the shortage off talent in the

Portuguese market because I think that's widely recognized, especially in the i t sector. Andi, how how are you guys dealing? Do you feel the shortage off engineering or product management? And I know it's out systems. I know you're one off the most recognized brands, uh, in the talent marketing in Portugal. So But if it is difficult for you, you know, I guess it's even more difficult for everyone else. So how how are you guys planning to deal with this shortage of talent. Do you have any specific plans? Training on boarding people? Okay, I can answer from two perspectives, one from our product. And we are trying toe improve our products so we can reduce the necessary talent to use it. And we are investing a lot of debt. And we had the next step. If someone from the audience it's curious about that can see we have a lot of information on the Internet

about next step that is our annual event regarding our recruitment for out systems as a company. Oh, it's difficult for us as well. I think what we have is our culture. Um, I think we don't how our employees MPs It's very good. Usually we don't lose, uh, many people. So I think what really matters is the culture and the opinion that people have on us. So so and are you able to have a good life work balance myself? Yes, E. You were workaholic anywhere in your I guess, your twenties when you got to the job market, Are you still a workaholic or are you able to leave work and e was thought toe be a workaholic But then I learned I like to learn

and study some subjects, and I'm really trying to improve my performance. I can have a good balance. And nowadays I think I have a good balance. Um, for instance, um, I have very, very demanding days and intense out systems Focus on the chicken goals for me, For my team, for the company I learned delegate a lot. My tasks. And I tried When I leave office nowadays the virtual office at home Because I'm working from home. I try to live there the work and, um switch toe the personal mood. What I'm doing nowadays I end today with running. I had an appointment in my agenda and I go for a run on day. I can tell you, for instance, that I have tow Google calendars one for my personal life. Another another one for my professional life too

. You have to, and I'm very disciplined. Imagine, for instance, today I will not run because I used to run and run at seven. We're taking you from your run. You should still go for moral, For sure I will. And whenever I need toe to reschedule something, some appointment I treated as a as a meeting. So I treated serious Onda and I think that this helps me. Another important thing is also that I prioritized my work and my team's work. Usually I focus on the top 34 most priorities stuff and I'm used to negotiate some the lies on the other tasks that they are not contributing directly toe these main goals so and also Well, I'm sorry I didn't want to interrupt yourself process. But what you consider your greatest passions in your life right now other than I guess

work. Uh, sorry. Other than other than work, what's your what's your greatest passion? Top priority. If you think like a product manager, what's your You know whats priority in your road map right now? Okay, I think it's keeping my body and my mind healthy with all this college. It was a little it was demanding for me, and I think for all of the people, because I was, for instance, my my boyfriend had to go work every day and I had to stay at home. So it was kind of concerned to bring some virus at home, and I was trying to deal with being at home every day. So I'm really focused on keeping my energy doing some exercise and and keeping my mind clear. And because I think at the end of the day, we need to be balanced toe support. This and 2000 and 20 shows this tomorrow can appear something

new and we need to be ready for Yeah, exactly 2020 show. There's a lot of a lot of things. Uh, one of one of the things that also showed us is that we cannot go to football. But I've heard that you are passionate about or you were passionate about football. Are you still into football nowadays? No. No, not so much nowadays. I I prefer I changed completely. I prefer yoga. Uh, during these these fund emmick phase, I start running guys it and I like you actually started running during pandemics. Yeah, Yeah, and I never like it. I didn't know how to breathe. It's so strange, but And have you Have you seen changes like you breathing better? Your You feel better because of that? Yeah. I started because I'm not a inside house person. I always try to go abroad outside. How's how's doing stuff and being

quiet at home during the day? It start toe. Um, I started toe feel some pains in my body. So it was French, so I tried to start running, and I really like it because he helps me keeping my energy. My body. I really love it. So we have a little section which is being it forwards. And that is what kind of advice do you have for anyone starting a career in products or that wants to start from the beginning with kind of advice? Would you give to them? Actually, believe me, I e at least I have this question every single day on my linked in people even today, like a couple of women, Um, that were referenced to me. And sometimes I don't even know how to answer that question properly. Right s. So I'm really curious to see what? What what kind of advice do you have yourself? Okay. I think I have tow

. The first one is that never give up. If you want to be a product manager, I think for me, product manager, it's a little bit like coca. Cole. Taste funny at the first, but then you grow. It grows on you like I don't know if it's a correct translation from purchase, but the idea is that you need toe. Give some time to product management to learn it and to see if you fall in love with him, because you will find times when it's a very demanding um, roll. It's a very demanding role, and you will have difficult times because you will be pushed toe. Be a good communicator, a good negotiator. You need toe, have leadership, but you don't have a team. You need toe live by influence. You need toe like product. You need toe, say no. For instance. It's very difficult because you have the customer, the partner, the sales team ask you stuff

and you cannot do everything, so you need toe to say no. So my advice is try it. Don't don't quit at beginning. I think the second advices that fundamental. I think it's really, really important. Are you? Are you mentoring yourself? Anyone? Yeah. I mean, I'm entering and I have a meeting in the Portuguese woman in tech that is also she is a P O product owner. I do it Andi and I think it really helped. I think it's it's good for me because I can teach someone. But it's also good for the meeting. And you can do it, for instance, with someone like in my case, or or even you can follow someone. That is a reference for you nowadays with the Internet and all these digital platforms. It's easy on. For instance, I would recommend nowadays Marty Cagan, Melissa Perry and also three The talk. Right, old speakers, That product I so e

that's true. Yeah, great. So Melissa Perry trizetto smarty cake. And if you're listening, if you're listening to this guy's follow them there or, you know you know you can of course, I guess also follow you. Andi. People confined you on LinkedIn Annabella. Sorry. You any any other platforms? Your urine that you want to tell us? E have instagram and also Twitter. But I think the more the one that I use more Islington. Okay, So if you have any questions regarding product ops that you want Anabelle s advice, please. By all means. Uh, sorry. For instance, if someone is looking for a mentor, I can try to find someone to help you, depending on your condition. I think you guys, if you are interested, I also can help there because I believe actually, that's really nice from you. And I'm pretty sure that almost 20 people that are listening to the to the Webinar

so far I will will appreciate it. We actually have a more than a couple of questions. I will just speak toward three because we are already on top off our time. And the first question is from Chris from the UK, and I think you might be able to help him. So Chris asks if starting a product ops function into an existing technological organization or tech organization. What are the key factors to take into account When you when you were starting Teoh You know the product ops function? Okay, I think you need tohave some You need to have support from your leadership. And in order to conquer that, you need toe, explain the problems and also explain our product ops help. I think it's the most important one because with supporting

product tops, its's a secondary role. You need tohave supporter from the leadership, so you are empowered to do changes and you need to change a lot to improve efficiency of the team still on on the product ops you go fresh is asking a question, which I I believe it's something we kind of covered, but it has a different angle. How? How out systems is approaching product ops and how. How is it different from maybe other companies? Do you have any specific flavor off product office that you're using, or is it pretty much standard we have? We have usually in the market or in the industry. When we talk about product tops, it just it's mainly related with the product management at out systems. We are doing one thing that we are looking for product management in engineering because we have, ah, North Star. That is zero Lee time from problem

framing until customer adoption. And we are looking for the developed stream off the product development life cycle. So we measure all the inefficiencies off the process and we solve it, and it could be in the product management team. It could be in engineering. Andi, I think in our case, it's it works very, very, very, very well, because we are, we break the seals that it's you are the glue between engineering and the product managers, so we make sure that these guys are working in tandem. Um, we have, like, a final question, and this is more than a question. I think it's it's a comment, but I just wanted to share with views from Isabelle Branko. She's saying that she just wants to sink your friendship and that you are an amazing friends. So that's really nice to to hear in this podcast or webinar in this case. And And I think this this this is it

. We are on minutes 35. You are more than welcome to dio more questions to 20 bell over Lincoln. And you are so nice that you are opening your doors to people that want find a mentor. And I guess this is open for both men and women on bond. I don't know if you want Thio, Add something that we didn't cover in this runner. E think if you if you allow me, I think I would leave. I would like to leave you all of you with this idea. Someone used to say that our brand is what people say about us when? When we are not in the room. So think about what you want people to talk about you and act to make it happen. Okay, So, guys, with this words of wisdom from Annabella, I'm going Thio. Thank you, Anabella, For for being with us today. I hope that you guys enjoy the podcast when it's going

to be released. Has you know, we are also releasing this Has a transcript on our block at privatized that go and on medium, Um, don't forget that the Prada Ties conference is still on sale. The tickets that the bundle tickets and workshops, by the way, are sold out. But the conference happening on the 26 27 off November is still on sale and you can use the code Annabella 20 to get 20% off from what is essentially the lowest price ever. Because this online event and actually there is actually a free a free option just for the 27th of November that you can still take Subscribe your newsletter, follow us on Twitter to get the episodes that is going to be published, probably next week. We're taking a couple of days to to publish this online on south

clouds and other platforms. So if you are listening on on iTunes, you can also get it there. So, guys, thank you so much and have a nice day and see you soon. Really nice knowing you and having this opportunity to understand what product ops is And your your your story as well. Okay. See what product eyes See what product eyes takes, you see there.

#GirlsWhoProduct with Anabela Cesário, Director of the Product Operations at OutSystems
#GirlsWhoProduct with Anabela Cesário, Director of the Product Operations at OutSystems
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