I’ve been on the job market since my employment with Skype/Microsoft ended, and it’s been an eventful couple of months with some interesting learning experiences talking to recruiters and hiring companies alike.
Upon reflection on the past few months, I realise that I am a member of a rare breed. I tried to go for your run-of-the-mill Product Manager role, all out agile/backlog manager of an interesting tech product or service, but I found that focusing on my USPs is actually the best thing that I can do. Why? I’ll explain.
1. Not all Payments Programme Managers are made equally
Generally speaking when an e-commerce Merchant or Payments Service Provider is on the lookout for a Payments Programme Manager, what they typically are looking for is a “do-it-all” person who can solve all their payments problems. They may have had much success launching their product in one market, but now they want to go global, or their product is awesome and lots of people want it but they can’t pay because the merchant doesn’t offer the right payment methods, or their checkout conversion is not where it should be and so on… Problem is, they only have budget to hire one person.
When you put out an ad looking for a Programme Manager, you will get applicants of all kinds, and most of the time, folks will either have a Sales/Business Development background or they’ll have a technical product development background, or an Operations background. It’s hard to find someone who has it all, which is exactly what you need. But don’t give up, they do exist and if you’re on a tight budget, it’s better to take a little longer to find that one person that can “talk all languages” and get stuff done.
2. Global is key
The online payments landscape is constantly changing and what makes a role exciting for a Payments professional is the ability to go out there and explore all the new technologies that can make online commerce/transactions more seamless and frictionless, more secure and fast. An excellent PM will have experience of implementing payment solutions all over the world, not just in one market or region. It’s essential that you hire someone that speaks the language of consumers in a wide range of countries/regions. It’s not something that can be taught; it’s only through experience that a professional will know what payment methods consumers in Brazil, China or Kenya want to use and why, along with all the complexities of implementing them, be it local tax considerations, local regulations, technical requirements, etc.
3. Cross-functional, meaning All-functional
This really makes the difference when you’re looking for a person that can just run with it. If you’re going to hire a Product Manager, he/she may be the best at getting stuff developed, be it in an agile or waterfall methodology. You will have requirements, they will get the team to deliver.
But what about all the other functions in the business? Who will manage the end to end? Who will orchestrate all the moving parts with the Sales & Marketing team, with PR, with Customer Service, Finance, Tax, Operations, Fraud, external partners, Legal? There’s been an explosion of Agile/Scrum in the Online Products and Services business and that revolution has greatly simplified the process of software development, but, imho, you can’t develop product in isolation. The company has to move forward as a whole, and to have success in product launches, you need someone that can cut across all the verticals in the organisation.
4. Virtual teams that work together
It’s not easy bringing people together to deliver on a project or programme. Folks from different teams all have their own agendas, their own roadmap and their own budgets and targets.
The job of the Payments PM is to create and rally a team around the project, to demonstrate by facts the benefits for the company and customers of delivering the project and to coordinate efficiently all the moving parts. This can only be achieved with great skills in influencing sideways, empathy and sensitivity for different cultures and ways of working, and a servant-leader mentality. Transparency and accountability top the package, by keeping stakeholders informed of progress and issues at all times.
5. In-life management
Most PMs have their horizon set on the launch date. On that day, all systems are go, and the job is done. On to the next thing. But in the Payments world, you deal with ongoing conversion analysis and optimisation, commercial partnerships that need to be fostered and developed, customers that need attention when facing serious issues (and who could damage your brand with a single tweet), regular interaction with Marketing and PR, to name a few. An excellent Payments PM knows that the job doesn’t stop when the go live button is pressed. It goes all the way until retirement of the product/service.
Online Payments is an exciting industry to be in, not least because there is so much potential for innovation and impact in the lives of customers. We are all consumers, and the trends show us that the number of people buying online will continue to grow at exponential rates worldwide. Likewise, the potential for moving money between organisations is endless too, with more and more innovative B2B solutions coming to the fore every year.
A company looking to hire an excellent Payments Programme Manager needs to find a person that not only has the five skills I mentioned, but also has the entrepreneurial drive, the emotional intelligence and a proven execution track record to deliver on the company’s vision.
You’re in luck, I’m available!