Laura Hamilton is a Group Product Manager at Groupon, leading product for its consumer web, international, LivingSocial, and also a speaker for Product Management Festival 2018. With a background in machine learning and analytics, Laura shares her professional journey from financial trader to product manager and why it’s important to take on challenges that scare you.
Could you tell us a bit about your professional journey and how you came to be Group Product Manager at Groupon?
For me, it’s been less of a career ladder and more of a jungle gym—my career progression hasn’t followed a linear path, and I have gathered a breadth of experiences I would not have gotten had my career followed a straight line path.
At the University of Chicago, I studied math and economics. My first job out of college was as an assistant trader at a proprietary trading firm in Philadelphia. A year and a half later, I moved back to Chicago and joined Enova International as an entry-level product manager.
I was lucky to have joined Enova during its period of hypergrowth, shortly after its acquisition by Cash America, so I was able to take on a lot of responsibility quickly and begin managing a team of product managers quite early in my career.
I led the team of product managers responsible for launching new initiatives within Enova, and we launched the first new product line (installment loans), the Pounds to Pocket brand in the UK, as well as new businesses in Australia and Canada. It was an exciting time, and I learned a lot launching and rapidly scaling these new businesses and products.
Next, I moved to a head of analytics role at seed stage ecommerce startup BayRu, where I defined the KPIs for the company and built out some automated analytics tooling. Over time, I took over product and engineering functions as well. After BayRu, I founded healthtech startup called Additive Analytics that provided a variety of web-based data visualization and analytics tools.
I joined Groupon almost 4 years ago, leading product for consumer web and international. I have had the opportunity to lead a number of exciting and cross-functional projects here, including a major redesign of the groupon.com mobile website and the migration of the LivingSocial mobile and web applications over to the Groupon tech stack.
What’s one thing you love about your job or industry?
I love building things! Whether it’s founding a startup, launching a new product, or developing a new feature, I enjoy the satisfaction of building something from nothing.
Any advice to aspiring product managers?
Here is some advice based on my experience.
First, and this is especially important early on in your career, try to find the smartest boss you can. A good manager will do great things for your career, and a bad one can stall or derail it.
Next, take on things that scare you. It’s the opportunities you’re not quite ready for that really stretch you and help you get to the next level.
Third, never stop learning.
I’ve been continually taking online classes in computer science, software development, and machine learning since I graduated from college. I’m currently taking a class on blockchain, which is really interesting.
I have also been very lucky to have had a series of fantastic bosses as well as non-boss mentors.
Are you working on anything new that you can share with our readers?
At Groupon, my team is working on a cross-functional project to make the discovery experience feel a lot more personalized for users. It isn’t live yet, but we have a number of key improvements throughout the stack that take advantage of cutting edge machine learning techniques to deliver a hyper-personalized and contextually aware browsing experience to our users. So stay tuned!
Want to hear more from Laura? She will be speaking at PMF on “Using Machine Learning to Delight Users.” See our speakers page for more information on Laura and our other speakers who will be presenting at this year’s conference.