The best product managers are visionaries who can creatively problem solve. They help guide the success of a product and lead the cross-functional team that is responsible for improving it. This is an important organizational role — especially in technology companies.
Over the past year the Planned platform has been re-invented from the ground up. It’s all about understanding the user needs and ensuring an intuitive and seamless experience. As the pandemic recedes and social restrictions are being removed globally, we’re continuing to see the results of our hard work through the events that our clients are booking.
You’re probably thinking that building a product to entirely streamline a process that is seen as having many inefficiencies must be challenging. It is exactly that, especially when one considers that our goal of completely transforming the event planning industry is a moving target due to constant changes in market trends and a large desire for innovation from our users.
Among the talent-density at Planned is Gabriella Hachem, our Product Manager. Gabriella joined the Planned team in September 2020 and has overseen all aspects of continuous improvement of Planned’s platform and user experience. “Some people thought it was a bit odd to join a startup in the events industry during a pandemic, but I really believe in the product and team.”
Since joining the team, Gabriella has assisted in restructuring the product process, talking with clients to understand the needs of our users, set both short and long term goals for the product, and overall contributed to the passion and desire to innovate on the team.
Gabriella graduated from McGill University in 2017 with a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing and a minor in Entrepreneurship. After graduating, she pursued a position as a UX Designer then a Product Manager at a startup based in Montreal that focused on conversational AI for ecommerce. This was when her passion for product management began.
“Product management isn’t a career that you learn about in school. I had no idea this job existed and what it entailed.” Her interest in product management grew as she learned more about product development and spoke with product leaders around her. She says, “To me, the most inspiring and fun parts of the role revolve around solving user problems, wireframing, and looking for patterns in the data.”
In her day to day role at Planned, Gabriella focuses primarily on: sketching and laying out ideas for features or iterations, breaking down user problems to discuss with the team, and meetings with various stakeholders, as well as testing new features that the team has pushed that week and debugging or prioritizing new bugs that may come up. When she isn’t focusing on the product, she likes watching The Office,eating Lebanese and Italian food, and socializing with friends.
Her passion for the product and our users has helped in transforming our product entirely. She shared, “The product itself has grown significantly and I’m proud of the team for what we’ve accomplished with the challenges of the pandemic,”she says. “The biggest hurdle we’ve overcome, in my opinion, is building with a lack of quantitative user data. We’ve really done the best with what we have, and our qualitative user interviews have been a great alternate method for feature validation.”
“The most prominent change is probably our product process. It used to be very waterfall-y, where the features and solutions were pretty much fully decided before they got to the developers. The process is now waymore collaborative, with product and designers and developers solving our user problems together.”
A couple of her favourite product people to follow are Shreyas Doshi and Bo Ren. These innovators have a wealth of experience that anyone can learn from, including their contributions to Stripe, Instagram, and Twitter. Shreyas and Bo share insights about product management with concrete and applicable frameworks that inspire their vast audiences. “Another amazing product thinker is a mentor and friend of mine, Justin Evans, whom I got to work with in my previous role. He engrained impact on user x cost as my main prioritization framework. He’s constantly pushing me higher and I learned an immense amount from him.”
Gabriella’s drive and focus has contributed to the growth of Planned, and from the onset her approach to strengthen the user experience and develop the product has made her a key asset. In addition to her passion, her excitement to continue to grow with the team and improve the platform inspires those around her. “Everything we’ve built is only the first version of that feature — there will be many improvements and iterations to come for pretty much every piece, so I’m excited about everything. I’m particularly excited to build the admin and reporting dashboard for our clients. I personally love interacting with dashboards so I’m excited to build and deliver value to others through one.”
Her ability to face problems head on and her genuine curiosity are two features that contribute to Gabriella being a successful Product Manager at Planned. We look forward to continuing to see how her enthusiasm drives innovation.