Product All-Star: 6 Questions With Amanda Spina
May 8, 2023

Product All-Star: 6 Questions With Amanda Spina

by Aha!

Building products is an adventure. That is what makes it the best job in the world. But it is not for the faint of heart — true product success requires decisive action, continuous effort, and a relentless pursuit of value.

At Aha! we have the honor of being connected to product experts and companies who go boldly and bravely. We are asking folks to share their knowledge with you — in hopes it will inspire you in your own product career.

Amanda Spina is an experienced consultant and product manager at ClearlyAgile, an agile consulting firm. Based in Tampa, Florida, she partners with external clients to help them plan, prioritize, and manage their workflows to achieve better business outcomes. Amanda appreciates the dynamic relationships she has built in this role and approaches her work with a growth mindset — seeing each market or technology challenge as an opportunity to learn and gain new skills.

When she is not working, you can find Amanda caring for her adorable cats or combining two fun activities into one — travel and concerts.

What was your first product role?

"In a way, I fell into my first role as product owner at Suncoast Credit Union. At the time I was a project manager, but the whole company was going agile and I was asked to be our first product owner. Truth be told, I did not know what that meant, but I was definitely interested.

As I learned the role, I realized that I had many transferable skills that helped me be successful. As a project manager, I had honed my communication, problem-solving, collaboration, and critical-thinking skills — these all translated directly into my new position.

At Suncoast, we had in-house developers. I collaborated with them, focusing on our mobile app, website, and internal tools for our employees. It was such a rewarding experience and I've been at it ever since."

What are the most important traits for a product builder?

"In product, it is really important to break out of your silo."

"A product builder needs to understand how products fit into a bigger picture. Sometimes we think the big picture is our department or company. But we need to broaden our lens to include our industry, our market, and beyond. During my time at Citibank, I worked with global products that pushed me to consider cultural perspectives around the world. This experience was invaluable — it forced me outside of my bubble.

I also think product builders need to be great at communicating, building relationships, and developing connections with people — not just stakeholders, but their colleagues too. Building relationships with those around you is going to help you build better products."

What would you recommend not to do when starting out in a product career?

"Do not make assumptions. Ask questions and actively listen. When I first got into product I thought I knew things — but I needed to check my assumptions at the door.

Do not neglect to build your network. It is through my network that I'm able to grow and learn. I get so much out of sharing challenges with others. I understand that this requires vulnerability, but I encourage those just starting out to have the courage to admit what they do and do not know.

Be open to different ways of thinking and doing things, and remember, you learn the most when you are uncomfortable."

How do you stay motivated when complex challenges arise in your work?

"When I'm dealing with something complex, I focus on relationships and remind myself of why I believe in this work and why it's meaningful.

When challenges arise, I reach out to my network and seek different opinions. It is a win-win. It helps build that relationship and together, we can tackle the challenge from several angles.

I also think about my own values and how they align to the product I'm supporting. When that connection is strong, it's easy to stay excited and motivated."

"Believe in your product and understand the value it delivers."

"And remember, you need to be flexible in the product space. It can be easy to feel frustrated, but try to keep your north star in mind."

What is the most exciting aspect of your current role?

"To me, it is the opportunity to make my client's life easier. At ClearlyAgile, I serve as a consultant as well as a product leader for clients. I enjoy listening to their challenges and developing a solution that is going to help both the client and their end users or customers.

It is all about delivering value. It is my job to make product management easier for the companies I partner with — so they can spend time focusing on other aspects of the business. This is the kind of relationship that excites me."

What will change most about product development in the next decade?

"I think so much is going to change. It will be interesting to see what new technology evolves and how it impacts behaviors and habits. Things like AI are not just going to change product. They are going to change people's behavior — and that is going to drive product.

In the coming years it will be important to stay on top of trends like these — not only in your industry, but around the globe. In doing so, you will learn how those trends affect human behavior for different cultures. This will impact how you prioritize features, communicate with users or potential users, and roll out launches."

Read more of the Product All-Star series.

Know an inspiring product builder? Nominate them to be featured in an upcoming post. They simply need to be doing quality work and using Aha! software.

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