Scott Eblen is Director of Product Management at Twitter and will be speaking at Product Management Festival Europe 2019 in Zurich on 13-14 November. In this interview find out more on his career path, what he loves and finds challenging as a leader in product management, his tips to PMs early in their career and what he tweets about.
Tell us about your path to becoming Director of Product Management at Twitter?
After studying computer science in college and doing software development internships, I realised that
I loved building things but hated the relative isolation of coding.
My first two jobs were at different ends of the spectrum; I started at Microsoft but then moved to the UK to join a 30 person startup as its first product manager.
I find it fascinating that large companies obsess about behaving like startups and startups are obsessed with becoming large companies. Over the past 17 years I’ve alternated between the two.
A pivotal point in my career was decision to leave Google to join the management team at Nutmeg, a digital wealth management startup. Three years ago, Twitter was kicking off a significant strategic initiative around Live Video in London so I joined both because of the opportunity and because I loved the product. Despite my career path only including PM roles, I increasingly see peers and candidates with unusual backgrounds and really like to hire people who can bring novel experience to a product team.
What’s the most challenging aspect of your career as a Product Leader? And what do you love most about your work?
My time as Chief Product Officer at Nutmeg.com was both the most challenging and most rewarding. It was difficult because I was faced with so many diverse problems with so much urgency. We were experimenting with new customer acquisition ideas, wrangling with a changing regulatory landscape including the move into financial advice, and creating a compelling vision for the next funding round. I found the continuous learning and opportunity to see direct impact from my work to be incredibly gratifying though.
Your talk at PMF Europe is about ‘scaling your PM skills’. What advice on being a Product Manager do you wish you knew earlier in your career?
There’s no recipe for success as a product manager.
The industries we work in and the craft of product management are constantly changing so I’d definitely advise everyone to be flexible and look for opportunities to learn. That said, one concrete suggestion which I’ve found useful when leading product managers is to think about how to make your impact repeatable and scalable. This requires crisp communication combined with clear principles and processes so that teammates and stakeholders can predict how you think about the product.
Another suggestion is to seize opportunities to learn about other disciplines early in your career. As you become more senior your work will overlap more with other functions (marketing, sales, operations, etc). It’s a lot easier if you’ve built relationships and understanding of those other disciplines earlier in your career.
What do you like to tweet about?
Follow @wseblen to find out 😄 It’s pretty eclectic – a mix of politics, gardening, tech stuff, archeology, animal videos, Eurovision or anything else that I’m reading or learning about.