Matthew Andrews
Product Manager ・ Software Engineer ・ Executive MBA Graduate ・ Tokyo Resident
Platform Products: Shared Responsibility vs. Gatekeeper vs. Custodian

My previous post, 3 things any digital product team can do to build better products, generated a passionate and robust rebuttal from a close colleague who I deeply respect.

In my post I argued that no matter how successful or dysfunctional your team, there are always three things any team can do better. In prioritised order these are: talk directly to real customers, test product concepts with customers and release incrementally.

My colleague rightly pointed out this can result in a single-minded focus only on the parts of a product the end customer sees, which can lead teams to neglect the shared platforms multiple product teams depend on.

In my experience the way those platforms are managed tend to match one of the following patterns below, which I’ve written in order of increasing maturity and efficacy:-

Shared responsibility

Imagine ten factories surrounding a lake. Each factory relies on clean water to operate. But each could choose either to properly clean their waste water or save money and not clean it before discharging back into the lake. When driven by one short term goal, to maximise profit, the factories may choose to neglect their responsibility to keep the lake clean until none can operate and they all lose money.

When it works

  • At the beginning when a need for a platform-like capability is still emerging.
  • With small, very mature teams that are able to exercise strong self-discipline.
  • When teams are not being rushed and don’t feel they need to cut corners.

Gatekeeper

The lake is now polluted. The factories have all shutdown. The local economy has collapsed. The government have appointed a powerful new Lake Management Authority, who will solely be responsible for discharging and extracting any water to and from the lake to ensure it remains clean for the benefit of all.

It takes significant effort to put in and maintain those strict controls but resources are limited — there’s only so much the factories can pay for water access and still remain profitable. Innovative but uncertain new uses of the lake struggle to get attention because the authority is already behind on meeting existing demands. Water access drifts to larger, richer, more powerful factories. The economy still grows but not up to its potential. Some factories discuss moving to another lake further upstream, outside of the jurisdiction of the Lake Management Authority.

When it works

  • When the need for the platform has clearly emerged.
  • For platforms in a state of disrepair during a recovery phase.
  • Where there’s value to protect the platform from the pressure to cut corners from product team.

Custodian

Recognising the economic impact of the strict control over lake management, the Lake Management Authority loosen their control. Their role changes gatekeeper to custodian, working in collaboration with rather than in conflict with factories. The authority retains power to approve or deny lake access but empowers factories to take greater responsibility for extracting and discharging water. Innovative uses of the lake emerge more quickly, the cost to protect the lake falls and the economy grows. The lake stays clean.

When it works

  • Where there’s strong communication between platform and product teams.
  • Where it’s possible to scale the platform improvements by empowering product teams to take some responsibility for developing them, with oversight from the custodians.
  • The system can tolerate and recover from occasional ‘damage’ that is inevitable due to the less strict oversight.
3 things any digital product team can do to build better products

27th of May was World Product Day and to celebrate I virtually attended the online Tokyo meet-up, which was fantastic not just for its content but for another surprising reason not relevant to this post. You too can watch the whole meet-up on YouTube.

What I loved about the talk itself was how it did not paint a picture of a perfectly idealised product process that is unreachable for most teams. Instead, it focused on practical, prioritised tips to make any product process a bit better.

The vast majority of us do not work within a perfect Discovery & Delivery culture. We work in situations that exhibit one of more of the old ways of doing things. Furthermore, the speaker, Todd Birzer, recognised not every team should be working in the new way. The old way can be appropriate in situations where there is a high degree of safety risk, or where it is expensive to fix mistakes.

In spite of this, there are things all product teams can learn from the new way of product development, even those bound (for sensible reasons or otherwise) by sequential processes.

Old vs. new

Product teams tend to work in one of two ways. Birzer uses the terms Stage-Gates and Discovery & Delivery. In my head I was substituting them with the frequently used terms waterfall and agile, but they are not exactly equivalent — not least of all because the terms ‘waterfall’ and ‘agile’ come with a lot of baggage.

Stage-Gates

‘Stage-Gates’ are where a project moves sequentially through the stages of:-

Scoping → Business case → Development → Testing → Launch

Each Stage is a phase of a new product or service development and each Gate is where product development is reviewed, go/kill decisions are made and the next-stage’s funding is allocated.

Stage-Gate processes are very common in companies around the world. For some types of products it can even be the right approach.

Discovery & Delivery

‘Discovery & Delivery’ is the newer approach. Rather than pushing the entire product’s development process through distinct steps, it breaks the product down into ideas that each, individually, go on their own journeys at their own speed through:-

Ideas → Discovery → Delivery → Optimisation

It works like a funnel: starting with a lot of ideas, picking a few of them to put through discovery, then filtering them further to choose only those that have tested very well to take to delivery.

Unlike Stage-Gates, Discovery & Delivery is non-linear. Ideas that test well will move onto delivery. At the same time, ideas that do not test well will go back to the beginning. New ideas will continuously be added. Often, all stages will be happening concurrently.

Discovery & Delivery is clearly a more lean, agile process. Requirements are defined immediately before (not months before) delivery. Very few resources are devoted at the beginning as you’re just quickly sorting through ideas. Significant resources are only allocated at the end when product-market fit has really been found.

Comparing the two processes

Market requirements

The Stage-Gates process forces requirements to mostly be defined upfront and decisions on what will be built will be made at the beginning. It might be a year later when the product is finally released and shown to customers.

With Discovery & Delivery, requirements are figured out as you go. You’re rapidly prototyping, learning as you go along, developing requirements at the same time as doing development.

Risks

Following a Stage-Gates approach risks being beaten by faster Discovery & Delivery competitors as they are more flexible and therefore better able to respond to customers.

Whereas those following the Discovery & Delivery process suffer risk of poor coordination as their progress is less easy to track and increased financial risk as the process is more chaotic.


How to make your waterfall process a little more agile

Not every team can (or should) move from Stage-Gates to Discovery & Delivery. Besides, it’s not realistic to try to change everything at once. Changing how people work, much like product management itself, is best done incrementally, but where to start?

There are 3 best practises every product team can learn and apply from the new process:

  1. Talking directly to real customers
  2. Testing product concepts
  3. Releasing incrementally

1. Talk directly to real customers

The first rule of excellent product management is interview customers early and often.

We should understand our customers in many ways. Customer satisfaction surveys, net promoter scores, third party research reports, product usage data, etc.

In particular we need to understand not just what the customer wants but what they are trying to achieve. The underlying needs your product is aiming to fulfil.

And because of that our most insightful source is direct conversations with customers.

Talk directly with your customers, not to (or through) your sales team

Customers are defined as the companies, groups and individuals who are benefiting from your product. Or competitors’ products. Or potential customers. Not your sales reps, not your sales channels.

Sales reps have a lot of bias — they will often filter the information from customers to highlight the demand for features they think they need to meet their own sales goals. We need to have product conversations with customers. We need to understand the customers without trying to make a sale at the end of the conversation. We need to test our product concepts. In order to do that, you need to talk directly to your customers and not go through sales channels.

How to interview customers remotely

Through video conferencing you need to be more disciplined. When you’re face-to-face you can be a bit more casual, go off on tangents because you have the personal rapport. It’s a little tougher when you’re on the video conference to develop that. You have to be more strict and focused. Your subjects might not be as patient with you. Stick to the time.

With a video conference it’s easy to invite a lot of colleagues but be careful. Make sure they’re not disruptive because if too many people are talking in at once it gets a little out of control.

Think about security. Use password protection. Ask your subjects not to show confidential information on their screen. Only record when you have permission.

2. Test your product concepts

We have many ideas for product enhancements. Some are excellent and some are worthless. The goal is to quickly screen ideas, discarding the bad and keeping the good.

Do not decide at the beginning on a set of features to build, then go through the full development cycle only to find out it doesn’t have a good product-market fit as this would be a huge waste of effort.

Instead, aim to filter out bad ideas and refine the good ideas with minimal investment by going through the test-feedback-test loop cycle, refining concepts to find product-market fit.

It’s a funnel process, you’re getting rid of a lot of ideas early on and only moving the ones that are truly testing well to the next stage.

Product concepts should start as simple as possible, such as a paper print out. Then a video. A clickable prototype. Only when you’ve gathered significant evidence that there is demand for your feature should you start to write code for beta software.

It’s never too late to start. Even if you’ve almost completely finished the new feature without any customer input, find a way to test it.

If you’re struggling to decide which approach to use to test, also don’t worry. Just pick one. Not every kind of user testing is ideal for every scenario, but imperfect user testing is better than no user testing.

3. Find ways to release incrementally

We often think it’s the first-to-market company that has all the advantage but it’s often the company that evolves the fastest that ends up winning in the long run.

Smaller and sooner is better than bigger and later.

Why do we want to release incrementally?

  • Offer value to customers sooner
  • Get revenue faster
  • Course correct sooner if we are off-track
  • Learn and evolve faster than our competitors

My own experience with FT.com resonated very strongly with this — I’m proud to say that we deployed code multiple times a day. New feature releases would be controlled by switches, instantly turning them on or off, or showing to customers through an A/B test. New feature ideas would typically be released this way every week or so.

A/B testing

A/B testing is one of the ways that product teams can accelerate the evolution of their product. But just looking at the data is not enough, you need a deeper understanding of the qualitative reasons behind it. Why are people leaning one direction or the other?

Summary

If you do just one thing differently after reading this post make it talk directly to real customers.

If you’re already doing that, then find ways to test your product concepts with customers and release new features incrementally.

Additional reading

How to define a Product Vision

The past few days I’ve been researching product visions — what they are, what are the ingredients of a good one and what are some examples. These notes are the result of that research.


According to Marty Cagan, the product vision describes the future, 2-5 years from now, that we are trying to create. Its primary purpose is to inspire the teams (including stakeholders, investors, partners, prospective customers) to bring this vision to life.

Buying into a vision always involves a leap of faith. You might not know how, or even if, you’ll be able to achieve it but at this stage you should believe it’s worthwhile trying.

Principles

  1. Start with why. What is your purpose. Everything follows from that.
  2. Love the problem, not the solution.
  3. Think big. Something that can be achieved in less than a year is not ambitious enough or substantial enough to inspire.
  4. Inspire. Create something you can get excited about. You can make any product vision meaningful if you focus on how you genuinely help your users and customers.
  5. Determine and embrace relevant meaningful trends. It is not very hard to identify the important trends but it is hard to understand how those trends can be leveraged by your products to solve customer problems in new and better ways.
  6. Skate to where the puck is heading, not to where it was. Identify the things that are changing—as well as the things that are likely not to change—in the time frame of the product vision.
  7. Be stubborn on vision but flexible on the details.
  8. Realise that any product vision is a leap of faith. If you could truly validate a vision, then your vision probably isn’t ambitious enough. It will take several years to know. Make sure what you’re working on is meaningful, and recruit people to the product teams who also feel passionate about this problem and then be willing to work for several years to realise the vision.
  9. Don’t be afraid to disrupt yourselves because if you don’t someone else will. Focus on creating new value for your customers, rather than on protecting what you have.
  10. Evangelise continuously and relentlessly.

Format

There is no set format for Product Visions. They’re sometimes short. Other times they can be very long, specific and go into all sorts of details.

The folks at TransferWise suggest defining a vision for a product by listing the core properties that customers use to describe its quality, imagine ultimate values for this properties and set a goal to achieve them.

Others suggest using the following format (originally from ‘Crossing the Chasm’, a book by Geoffrey Moore):-

  • For (target customer)
  • Who (statement of the need or opportunity)
  • The (product name) is a (product category)
  • That (key benefit, compelling reason to buy)
  • Unlike (primary competitive alternative)
  • Our product (statement of primary differentiation)

Company Mission versus Product Vision

As far as I can tell they can be the same or they can be different, but if they’re different they should certainly be aligned. The company mission addresses a broader audience, whereas the product vision may be relatively more internally focused.

Clearly if your company has multiple different products, each might have its own vision. On the other hand if you are a small single-product company a single combined company and product mission-vision statement may be more appropriate.

Don’t forget Marty’s 10th commandment “evangelise continuously and relentlessly” — that evangelism will be diluted if split between multiple competing visions.

Examples

AOL

https://svpg.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/Example-Vision.pdf

SpaceX

SpaceX was founded under the belief that a future where humanity is out exploring the stars is fundamentally more exciting than one where we are not. Today SpaceX is actively developing the technologies to make this possible, with the ultimate goal of enabling human life on Mars.

Telenav

At Telenav, we believe the car is at the beginning of a massive innovation wave that mirrors what happened on the smartphone several years ago. Building on our long history of mobile and in-car navigation software and services, we are on a mission to make people’s lives less stressful, more productive and more fun when they’re on the go.

Anonymous CRM product

For a mid-sized company’s marketing and sales departments who need basic CRM functionality, the CRM-Innovator is a Web-based service that provides sales tracking, lead generation, and sales representative support features that improve customer relationships at critical touch points. Unlike other services or package software products, our product provides very capable services at a moderate cost.

Innocent drinks

Make natural, delicious food and drink that helps people live well and die old.

TransferWise

Money without borders - instant, convenient, transparent and eventually free. We’re powering money for people and businesses: to pay, to get paid, to spend, in any currency, wherever you are, whatever you’re doing.

Zuora

Zuora enables businesses of all industries and sizes to price, package, and sell their products on a recurring basis. Our mission is to help you grow your business by establishing, cultivating and monetizing recurring customer relationships.

Further reading

Stop going to networking events and start networking

When I hear the term ‘networking event’, I imagine a room of business card swapping suits and waitstaff carrying trays of canapes. It’s often a waste of time.

It’s hard to recall many (if any) of the people I’ve met at such events having a significant impact on my career. All the really influential people have come from more spontaneous meetings. It’s time to stop going to ‘networking events’ and start networking instead.

So much material exists about how to overcome shyness to network effectively — and whilst being an introvert is still a barrier for many people, I believe many more perfectly confident people struggle to get as much value out of networking as they should because so many events intended for networking are so bad — and they miss out on opportunities to accelerate the development of their private and professional lives.

Instead, we should think of networking as a mindset that we should have all the time.

1. Create opportunities where you can meet people naturally

At so-called ‘networking events’ the purpose is too direct and artificial: there’s no real communication. Better to look for opportunities to naturally connect at a more personal level, leaving business to later.

Sign up to a course, join a sports club, go to local meetups, volunteer at a charity, organise something, find out where the people at the companies you’re interested in hang out after work.

Doing so randomly can be good (you never know when you might stumble upon an opportunity) but you can be strategic: try to find places frequented by the sort of people you’d like to meet.

Take networking online: join conversations on Twitter and LinkedIn, publish a blog, create something.

If you publish a blog post once per month on Twitter and LinkedIn, chances are someone you would be interested in talking to will eventually ‘like’ or ‘retweet’ one of your posts. This can be a very nice, natural excuse to send them a message to thank them and start up a conversation.

2. Be open to new unexpected opportunities

Networking is an opportunity for discovery and learning. Be excited, curious and open minded.

Spend enough time with the people you talk with to really get to know them.

Be open to talk to everyone. You never know which people will end up being most useful for you in the future.

3. Make a good first impression

Think about what your interests and goals are.

Then think about what the interests and goals of the others could be — and where they might align with yours.

If you can, spend time preparing for each meeting, interaction or event before-hand seriously researching into people’s backgrounds and preparing intelligent informed questions.

If you take time to properly identify and research shared interests, you’ll leave a better first impression and have a better chance of creating a more authentic, meaningful long-term relationship.

4. Expand what you have to offer

Find something valuable to offer by thinking beyond the obvious.

People tend to think narrowly about what they can offer. They focus on tangible things such as money, social connections and information, while ignoring the less obvious such as gratitude, recognition and enhanced reputation.

You might also have unique insights or knowledge that could be useful to people you meet. For example, junior people are often better informed than their senior colleagues about trends, new markets and technologies.

When you think more about what you can give to others than what you can get from them, networking will seem less self-promotional and more selfless — and you’ll become someone that people want to talk to.

5. Be led by a higher purpose

People who focus on collective benefits of making connections (“support my firm” or “help my clients”) rather than on personal ones (“support my career”) feel more authentic whilst networking.

Any activity becomes more attractive when it’s linked to a higher motive. For example, if you belong to an underrepresented group, media attention that would result from building a stronger network would not only benefit you individually but help counter biases against the entire group.

So, if you find it hard to motivate yourself to put effort into networking just for the sake of just your career, find a more meaningful, motivating reason to do it, like becoming a role model or addressing an issue you consider important.

6. Nurture the relationship by helping each other

Don’t just exchange pleasantries and LinkedIn profiles. Go deep.

People establish the most collaborative and longest-lasting connections when they work together on tasks that require each other’s contributions.

Spend time really listening to the people you meet. Then when you get home, follow up. Create opportunities to work together. Keep in touch.

In summary

  • Create opportunities where you can meet people naturally
  • Be open to new unexpected opportunities
  • Make a good first impression
  • Expand what you have to offer
  • Find a higher, more meaningful purpose
  • Nurture your relationships by working with and helping each other

By doing this all the time, networking will change from being an activity to a mindset, will feel more natural and be more meaningful.

Final thought: I’m absolutely terrible at applying this advice in real-life but I hope that by writing it up publicly that will improve.


Adapted from several classes on Networking taken as part of my IE Executive MBA, notes from the very excellent “Learn to Love Networking” from Harvard Business Review and my own reflections.

8 tips for better negotiation — or, how to gain a magical superpower

Listen to a recording of this article:



One of the most eye opening moments of my Executive MBA was our short one day course on Negotiation.

Before, I’d thought negotiation skill was a kind of magical superpower out of reach of mere mortals, like me. But the truth is negotiation is not magic. It can even be learned from a book. By following a few simple steps I’ve been able to get what I’ve wanted faster and more smoothly, whilst helping my counterpart achieve their goals too.

Furthermore with this new understanding, where before I might look upon “tough negotiators” with respect and admiration for their gall and negotiation skill, I now see confident amateurs losing opportunities for better deals.

1. Prepare, prepare, prepare

The more you prepare, the stronger your negotiating position.

Make sure you have answered the following, ideally in writing for yourself, before entering negotiations:

About yourself

  • What are your goals? How are they prioritised?
  • What are the issues to be negotiated and how important are they are to you?
  • What are your BATNAs? — best alternative to negotiated agreement
  • What would be the minimum terms you would accept?
  • What will be your starting position? — the maximum you will push for

About the other side

  • What do you think their goals are? How do you think they prioritise them?
  • What do you think is their BATNA?
  • What do you think the minimum terms they would accept would be?

About the situation

  • Deadlines? Which side is under more pressure to conclude negotiations quickly?
  • Are there any precedents that could benefit you? (Or work against you?)
  • What would you like to avoid talking about? What will you say if they bring it up?

2. Start high, but not stratospheric

In your research you should identify your starting position. This should be ambitious but not outrageous, otherwise you risk not being taken seriously or causing offense. The more you can back up your starting position with research the better.

You could say:

Based on my research from asking some of my contacts performing similar roles at other firms, I would like to ask for a salary of X.

There are people who say it’s better to let the other set the starting bid, others who say it’s better for you to. But bear in mind that studies show that the opening bid acts as an anchor, pulling the final agreement up (or down).

Finally, remember once you’ve stated your opening offer, you can only negotiate down, not up.

3. Prepare your BATNAs

BATNA stands for “best alternative to a negotiated agreement” and is your fallback should negotiations fail.

This explains why you are in such a stronger position to find a new job when you already have one.

But don’t leave it at just that. Develop multiple BATNAs. Nurture and strengthen your BATNA. And above all, make sure you do nothing to weaken your BATNA.

When applied to job negotiations, this can mean:

  • Pursue multiple opportunities in parallel.
  • Ask to hold offers whilst you consider other opportunities from other parties.
  • Even if you hate your job, you don’t need to let the other party know that!

4. Listen

Don’t jump in and start making demands. First listen.

Before stating your perspective, listen first to the way they see it. Ask why in a neutral, friendly tone. Genuinely listen and learn. Either by asking directly or indirectly, validate the research you’ve done on the other side’s goals and priorities.

5. Remember negotiation is just one stage of a longer-term relationship

Except for the rarest of simple transactions, a negotiation is just one small part of your relationship with the other party.

Being perceived to have squeezed the other side too hard can have consequences that you may pay for eventually.

Remember that after concluding negotiations for your new job, you will need to work with the people you have negotiated with potentially for several years to come.

6. Don’t treat the other side as the enemy

Respect that each side needs to prioritise their own interests but that you also have common interests: namely getting to a deal.

A good negotiation should not lead to a win-lose, it should be win-win.

The more collaborative and trustful a relationship you can develop between you and your counterpart, the more likely you will be able to help each other identify opportunities to make the deal better for both of you.

7. Don’t focus purely on money

Don’t focus on headline figures alone. In job seeking, companies are structured to have multiple budgets and salary pulls only from one.

Don’t dismiss this as spare change. These extras can be significant.

Personal development, travel opportunities, annual leave allowance, flexible working arrangements, job title, size of your team… can all make a massive difference to the value you get from your role (and can be far more tax efficient than paying for them yourself out of your income). Also consider the effect your job has on your health, happiness and general well-being.

8. Post-Agreement Negotiation

Once you have come to an agreement, offer your counterpart the opportunity to improve it.

This is not about re-opening negotiations. Honestly and genuinely commit to honouring the agreement you have already negotiated. But suggest both parties treat it as both of your new BATNA’s.

If the initial negotiation has gone well for both sides, there will be areas of the deal you wish you had done better and areas your counterpart wishes they could have done better too.

This is your chance not to make a new deal but improve what you’ve already agreed on.

Conclusion

By following these tips, I have negotiated better deals for myself at work and in my personal life and, occasionally, have succeeded in making a deal where others had thought impossible.

I feel I really have gained a magical superpower.

Further reading

In defence of copying

I was recommended to read Zero to One by Peter Thiel, which starts with an evocative question: what important truth do very few people agree with you on? Thiel then proceeds to describe the difference between “truly new innovation” (going from 0 to 1) against iterative improvements (going from 1 to n) and citing the example of Chinese copying products and business models from elsewhere as not innovation. I don’t believe this to be true and I believe the author is downplaying the value of copying.

In the infancy of each of China’s industries, they did indeed imitate and copy the leading incumbents. Much like the Japanese electronic and car industries when they started. Later, Japanese car makers led the world. Likewise, China leads the world in retail technology, low-carbon transportation, Drone technology and more.

Whenever learning anything new we start with imitation. The most innovative creators of entertainment draw inspiration from the leaders that came before them. Even more creative innovations come from copying the practises from one industry and applying them to another.

And yet in the world of product development, copying is anathema.

Copying, especially when entering an unfamiliar problem-space, is a low-risk way to gain expertise on the customer problems and avoid some of the mistakes others have already learned from.

The author argues that imitation is a kind of crutch that holds back innovation. When used excessively, that’s certainly true. The imitator can never exceed the imitated. But writing off copying as a universal bad practise is just as bad as using it excessively.

Copying is a tool. Like all tools there are times when it’s appropriate and other times when it is not. A smart innovator knows when to copy and when to create.

So, my universal truth very few people agree with me on:
Copying is an essential tool for the creation of innovative products.

IE Executive MBA Review — What I learned

I graduated from IE Business School’s Executive MBA programme in Madrid, Spain in December 2019.

The 15 month programme was conducted mostly online so I took most of the classes crouched over my laptop in the dead of the night from my adopted home in Tokyo, Japan.

Here’s me happily accepting my certificate:

A colleague of mine asked me today:

(How) do you think it has been valuable for you?

Before I answer I want to first write a short disclaimer.

MBAs are very expensive, many are designed for a world that is increasingly out of date and I am certain free or low cost online equivalents of the vast majority of the course content now exist on Udemy, YouTube, Coursera, etc. I genuinely believe a Harvard Business Review subscription, especially reading back through their greatest hits, gives you a third of the value of an MBA with less than 1% of the cost.

For me I was extremely fortunate in three ways that made the full MBA worthwhile:

  • Firstly, my employer chose me as one of the three candidates they put forward each year for full sponsorship.
  • Secondly, I joined IE: an incredibly forward-thinking school who have technology capable of running truly collaborative and engaging classes connecting teachers and students across all the world’s populated continents at once.
  • Finally, almost everything we learnt was new to me. I believe had I already studied business at undergraduate level and complemented it with relevant work experience, I would have got much less out of it.

Your mileage may vary.

(How) has an MBA been valuable for me?

  • Before, I might think of an idea for a business and fantasise it would make me a gazillionaire. Now, I feel I know more clearly than ever what needs to be done to take that idea, evaluate its potential, make decisions about the trade-offs between various ways of getting it funded, and how it might be brought to life. I also realise how much work and risky it is — and now feel almost (but not quite) all of my previous ideas lack the potential to make them worth the effort.
  • I can now read & understand basic financial statements, but despite having a numerical background (BSc Mathematics) I’m not as good at it as I thought I would be.
  • Basic knowledge of accoutancy has given me better understanding about how (and why) budgeting works the way it does at Nikkei and the FT, for example why it isn’t always possible to simply roll over unused budget from previous years into the next.
  • I realised I can write quite well. I guess 8 years working for a newspaper has had some effect!
  • I learnt how to make a marketing plan … and made a basic one for part of my current project at the FT (and it was received well!)
  • I learnt what is considered best practice when Negotiating … and now use this in my daily life …
  • Studying IT/Technology from an academic & business perspective made me re-realise I’m really good at it and how much I love it.
  • On the other side, it’s given me a much greater respect for those ‘from the business side’. Finance, Strategy, Sales, Marketing are crafts in their own right and are in my opinion far more difficult than the likes of IT and operations. Why/what questions are infinitely more difficult to answer than who/how.
  • I learnt what Networking actually is and realised I’m not as bad at it and enjoy it much more than I thought.
  • It will help the next step of my career — to move into product focused technology roles.
  • And finally, I’ve met a bunch of wonderful people doing crazy amazing things around the world!