Being a Product Manager means dedication, exceptional organizational skills, and knowing how to communicate challenging requirements with the Software Engineering team. We had a chat with our Product Manager, Branka Milicevic, who talked with us about her career path, her day-to-day work life and gave us some great pieces of advice along the way.
Tell us more about your professional background.
I am a Product Manager and Computer Scientist focused on developing and designing software products. That combination of expertise turned out to be well-received by companies in Belgrade and abroad, and has been essential for my career in the telco and travel industry, where I’ve been working for the past 16 years. Today, I can say I am so gratefulI to have chosen to be focused on these two business areas. I am really passionate about creating software products that lead to great outcomes for companies. So far, I am proud to say I have helped launch more than 50 projects, had the opportunity to work with top-tier carriers in the USA as well as major GDS Travel platforms operating across the globe.
What led you to your career as a Product Manager?
When working on projects as a Software Engineer, I remember once I asked my Product Manager: “What are our milestones we need to reach?” Their answer was that we should deliver “everything at once”. At that moment, I realized I needed to be more involved in strategic decisions about how to build products. Soon I started to be invited to the meetings with clients to answer technical questions and to propose the best possible solution for client requirements. So, my transition to product management was so logical and natural - it fit who I am as a person.
What are your key responsibilities and what is the most challenging aspect of your role?
As a Product Manager, I have three main responsibilities:
- To provide vision and set goals for my teams so they always know the purpose and values of the product we are bringing to the market
- To design products and product roadmaps that align with the company’s mission and core values
- To do market research, competitive analysis and industry analysis so we can bring the best products to our clients and make good strategic decisions when defining a long-term roadmap
The most challenging part is to orchestrate all three responsibilities on a day-to-day basis. That's why I believe it’s very important for product managers to be very structured when communicating and well organized on an operational level.
Can you tell us more about a recent project and your role in this project?
A recent project challenge was to identify what is needed to integrate and extend the existing ordering system of a top telco company and overcome technical obstacles. As a Product Manager, my responsibility was to work with the client, engineering, marketing, legal design teams so the project goal can be achieved. Applying the “Design Thinking” approach I created a roadmap for the complete project with detailed feature definition so that our engineering teams can successfully complete the development.
What does your typical day at work look like?
I believe it’s important to identify small goals on a daily basis and set a routine so every day the team and I ensure value is created. I usually start my day checking Jira to make sure all dependencies and obstacles are resolved for my teams so they can have a productive and successful day. Next, I usually spend 2-3 hours preparing and designing features that are on the roadmap to be developed next. The morning is a good time to have team meetings, either to follow up on what we are currently working on or to make sure we as a team are ready and prepared for what is coming next. Afternoons are usually reserved for internal meetings (with my colleagues in California and Toronto) or external meetings, workshops to gather requirements and understand client requests. Last but not least on my schedule, usually in quiet night hours, is to research, read and plan the next advancements to the capabilities in LotusFlare DNO Cloud for which I am responsible.
What advice would you give to someone that is considering starting their career in the IT/Telco Industry?
That advice can be summed up as “Always do the best you can, with what you have, where you are”. And if you are a software engineer and if you ever wondered if it is really necessary to learn and know how to apply all 25 design patterns, I can 100% say - yes! 🙂
How do you like working in LotusFlare so far?
The collaboration between Product Managers and Software Engineers in LotusFlare is the best that I have ever witnessed or been part of in my career. I believe that companies can only be successful if their core teams are collaborating and working as one big team. To get there, organizational culture should foster a spirit of innovation, relations should be based on trust and respect - all of which I feel we have in LotusFlare! I am so grateful and happy to be part of the LotusFlare!