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100 Product Managers Interview with Wade Johnston from Civis Analytics

Aug 22, 2017

Episode 38: “Data Made Me Do It” with Wade Johnston, Civis Analytics

By: Suzanne Abate @suzanneabate

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.


Civis Analytics - Make Smarter Decisions, Driven by Data Science

Through big data analytics, Civis helps organizations find the truth in their data using data science tools to spur insights into action.

100 Product Managers began with a mission to interview one hundred active product managers in Los Angeles - from startups to enterprise. We didn't realize we were also pioneering the web's first consolidated and comprehensive resource for product management topics.