Product Management All-Star: 6 Questions With Katie Richie
July 16, 2021

Product Management All-Star: 6 Questions With Katie Richie

by Aha!

We have the best job in the world — Aha! builds software for product builders. And we are connected with people you should know. They are the ones who are building what is next for customers around the world. So we are asking some of these exceptional people who are shaping the future to share their knowledge with you.

Based in South Florida, Katie Richie has had the pleasure of amplifying how people work for almost 20 years. She is a product development operations manager at UKG, which delivers HR and workforce management solutions. Katie supports a suite of experience-led global workforce management and human capital management solutions.

When she is not developing operational enhancements, she's busy dreaming of traveling, cooking, and throwing parties. Most days, she enjoys the sun, sand, and surf with her husband, daughter, and son.

What was your first product job?

"I learned about product management unintentionally through career evolution, and the discovery was transformative. After a 13-year career in operations and IT roles in corporate hospitality, my first opportunity in software development was with a leading digital entertainment technology provider in the hospitality industry. My role was specifically accountable for organizing the development and delivery of a custom mobile app for one of the largest cruise lines in the world. In tight collaboration with the client, I led requirements development and documentation efforts, fostered the UX and design, and managed priorities for our internal teams. The value of having oversight at the intersection of these functions was tangible so we expanded this responsibility to the entire product portfolio. This manifested into the company’s and my first-ever product role!"

What is the most important trait for supporting a diverse product management organization?

"Developing solutions with empathy is the key to delivering value in product operations. A large portion of product operations is to develop and scale product management best practices. While the long-term benefits may be clearly envisioned, new standards and processes come with change. Listening to your stakeholders’ challenges and learning about how they work on a daily basis is imperative to developing solutions that will work across a diverse portfolio and with competing stakeholders."

What would you recommend to an organization desiring to add a product operations function?

"It’s important to begin by deeply engaging with product leaders to identify the most impactful opportunities and focus resources appropriately. Every product organization is unique so it’s important to work alongside product leadership to prioritize as you grow and scale product operations. The body of product ops work, while rooted in core principles, will evolve as the product organization evolves."

If product operations had a slogan, what would it be?

"Let us help you with that. Product managers should be spending their time focusing on customer problems, not operational ones. A product ops team provides an enabling infrastructure to help product managers perform at their best so they can focus on delivering results that help grow the business. Product leaders will reap the benefits of a portfolio plan aligned to the company’s strategic priorities, holistic decision-making data, and scalable best practices."

What will change most about managing products in 2030?

"The amount of data growth realized over the last decade will accelerate exponentially in the next few years due to the increasing prevalence of sensors, IoT devices, and the like. Deciphering signals from noise will be critical to ensuring the right data influences product decisions and will highlight the need for organizational data strategies, data-specific product leaders, and solutions that allow self-serve analytics."

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