As far as Product Managers go, Wade Johnston is firmly in the non-technical camp. And yet, you wouldn't know it from his propensity for managing data products.
After a little less than a decade spent at Nielsen - the original data company - Johnston joined Eric Schmidt-backed data science startup, Civis Analytics, as Senior Product Manager for Data Products.
Civis Analytics was born on the campaign trail, where CEO Dan Wagner and other founding members were spearheading the analytics team for Obama for America. Today the company is on a rapid growth trajectory, developing clients across multiple sectors and advocating for the power of clean data and quant-driven business management.
I sat down with Wade to discuss the history of data science, how to determine when the job of collecting data is too big for an in-house team, what to look for when hiring data scientists, and tips for avoiding "Excel hell.
I think that getting those core skills of communication, stakeholder management, engagement with people, asking good questions, is something that product managers shouldn't sell themselves short on. We're not just personable people that run good meetings, right. There is a craft to what I think good product managers do. And sometimes that gets lost in the shuffle in the generalist kind of approach."
Also in this episode:
- Learning to ask the right questions
- Good advice for grassroots generative research
- Effective strategies for collecting qualitative customer research when you're part of a large company
Press play below to hear our whole conversation.