Vincent is the Director of Product Management of GOGOVAN, where he leads the product team, oversees product management, product design and QA. Vincent will be speaking at Product Management Festival APAC in Singapore on the 17-18 June. In this interview, he shares more on his professional journey, his commitment to helping entrepreneurs in developing countries and on managing product culture.
Our readers like to see how senior product leaders get to where they are. How did you come to be a Director of Product Management at GOGOVAN?
Vincent: Like many PMs, I started my career as a startup entrepreneur which allowed me to wear multiple hats during the whole product development cycle. Even though my startup was a failure, the roller coaster ride gave me a unique perspective when solving product problems and speeded up my learning curve in areas like business strategy, product management, and growth marketing. After that, I became the Head of Product of an early stage startup working on a global SaaS + Marketplace product. Lessons I learned there include how to iterate a product to reach P/M fit, grow and manage a product team, deal with growing pains, and evolve a company culture. These dots somehow connected with each other eventually and built up my muscle, which was necessary for the scaling challenges that I faced at GOGOVAN.
You are at an intersection of product, design, software, transportation, and logistics: could you share a couple of things you love and/or find challenging about your job (and/or industry)?
Vincent: I guess the most challenging part is that logistics is what we call a global-local problem. It covers a broad spectrum of service areas and it can mean different things in different countries because of issues like compliance, local culture, industry norms…etc. Because of that, localization is much more complicated compared to a global SaaS product. We need to find the common denominator of our user journey so that we have a unified core experience globally but at the same time, we need to give enough room in the product to support unique localized features so that our products can resonate with the local users.
While we want to create the best user experience globally, we also need to avoid creating a fragmented system that increased overall developer complexity and inhibited rapid feature iteration. This is an interesting problem that our teams enjoy solving every day.
I noticed that you have volunteered with Kiva for several years. Could you tell me a bit more about your work with them
Vincent: I joined Kiva more than 10 years ago. I was attracted by its mission to provide micro-lending to change entrepreneurs’ lives globally. These loans are generally used by entrepreneurial people wanting to start a business, or those who need extra cash to expand. I had experience going through the entrepreneurial journey myself, understanding the challenges of the ups and downs. That’s why I tried to help entrepreneurs, mostly in developing countries, in whatever way I could. I constantly recruit other people to join this community as well so we can maximize our impact.
You’ll be speaking at PMF on how to manage product culture in the midst of rapid company growth. You’ve worked at companies of different sizes. Does the need to manage culture change become more critical when the growth is occurring at a small startup v/s at a larger company?
Vincent: Many people think that running a startup is like a marathon as long as you can raise money, you will be able to keep going and to be successful someday. But for experienced startup veterans, the right analogy should be more like a triathlon. You have different stages in the journey which requires different skill sets in order to survive or thrive. And the transitions between stages are often awkward, but they count.
If a team goes from one stage to another and they don’t notice, it’s like trying to swim on a bike. Not so good.
After all, only those that can execute all three phases can complete a race. Managing product culture when you grow from a small startup to a larger company is very similar. First of all, you need to have the awareness to know where you are and what you need to change in order to move to the next phase. Believe it or not. Many teams don’t have this kind of awareness. Or when they aware there are problems in their product culture, it’s already too late to turn the ship around.
So I would say managing product culture is equally critical in all stages as long as the company is growing. Because if you manage it poorly, the consequence could be fatal.
To meet Vincent and other inspiring Product Management Leaders in person at Product Management Festival APAC 2019 in Singapore, book your tickets at https://apac.productmanagementfestival.com.
Vincent is the mastermind behind different product strategies, process, roadmaps, and developments at GOGOVAN. After joining GOGOVAN, Vincent has successfully streamlined the development processes and nurtured an outcome-driven product culture to help the company keep pace with the rapid growth of the logistics market. Vincent has over 10 years of experience in leading product and design developments. Prior to joining GOGOVAN, he was the Head of Product at OneSky, a localization management platform. He also founded a tech startup boasting an award-winning product, ResumeTracker, named one of Top 50 Web Apps in Asia. Vincent graduated from UCLA majoring in Economics.