Aspire to Tech: Product Manager, Voice of Customer – PressReader

Career Spotlight – Fernanda Oliveira

What is your role? What is your title? Where are you located?  How long have you been doing it?

I am a Senior Product Manager, Voice of Customer (VOC). I joined PressReader in 2016. Our office is located in Richmond, BC. In the past seven years, I have taken different roles in the company, starting in account management, constantly interacting with publishers from all over the world, from places like New Zealand to Brazil, Canada, and Europe. Then I became a Team Lead of the account management team. Then a little while earlier in the pandemic, I moved to the product team as a product manager. Recently, in March this year, I transitioned into a new role focusing on Voice of Customer. My main responsibilities are to plan and execute the VOC program and all initiatives relating to it.

What makes your job interesting?

Working with product is the intersection between business, tech and UX, which is very interesting to me. I find this multidisciplinary aspect of the job to be fascinating. Working with many different perspectives makes the work environment, the interactions, and discussions very rich and engaging. Talking to real clients is also intriguing for me, and refreshing sometimes. It’s crucial to my role as I represent the Voice of Customer. I love it.

What is the most fun? What is the most challenging?

I try to find solutions to tackle the publishing industry’s challenges. For me, that’s fun. For example, we tackle questions like, how does the young generation consume news? I am motivated by that. I love to do research. Learning is a passion, and always fun and stimulating for me. To be able to sit down with different stakeholders, customers, or industry experts, and have conversations around strategy problems and how they can be solved, why users have these problems, and identifying alternative solutions – I really enjoy that.

In terms of challenges, it’s exciting to see the new Voice of Customer position being created within our company. It demonstrates a commitment to gathering insights and feedback from customers’ stakeholders. Of course, there are some challenges that come along with this opportunity, but it’s a chance to tap into the knowledge of many different people and learn from their feedback. However, given the high demand for customer research, there may be concerns and discussions about how to allocate resources effectively and prioritize where to focus our efforts. The challenge is to identify the best way we can allocate our time and resources to represent the customer.

How does your role help drive the company’s success?

It involves closely listening to and addressing customer needs and pain points. This is essential for the company to create more value, to innovate, and stay relevant in the market. My efforts play a crucial part in helping the company understand what’s next in terms of growth. For example, uncovering an unmet need creates business value in many ways. It creates opportunities for offering unique products or services, helping businesses to gain a competitive advantage in the market, and attracting new customers.

What does a typical day look like for you? What do you actually spend your time doing?

As I mentioned, this is a new role, and with that comes a lot of new opportunities. What I’ve been doing is connecting with different teams within the company to promote and build this customer-centric approach at all levels of our business. I’ve been doing some research as well to build the foundation of this program – identifying existing feedback sources, for example, and potential new ways for us to collect further feedback. Even to materialize feedback that is not currently recorded in any tools, but resides within the minds of employees. This is what I have been doing in my new role so far.

Tell us about your career history?

My curiosity for new information and drive to solve problems led me to take on many different roles and develop my leadership and project management skills. Before I migrated to Canada, I was a journalist working for the largest newspaper company in Brazil. They had newspapers, magazines, TV stations, radio stations. I worked there for many years. I was always curious, paying attention to the changes brought by technology. Very early on, I was part of the first team that launched a newspaper website in Brazil in the late 90’s.

Then I transitioned to the product side. I started in the newsroom, then slowly got interested in things we could be changing in the company now that the internet was around, and I started to ask more questions and get involved in digital products and management conversations, for example around classified ads. Early in my career, newspapers had huge, classified ad sections. They started to migrate to the Internet where you could search for specific things and take advantage of all the interactions. I was involved in those projects in the company, things like SMS text News Alerts, and other research projects. I also became involved in new business opportunities and asked questions like how do young people consume news? What can we do as a company to make sure they continue to read our paper? I was involved in strategic planning and ended up becoming part of the strategy team. After a little while, I then got promoted to Innovation Manager, working with new product bets and ideas, as well as news business oportunities. When I moved to Canada, I was drawn to what PressReader was doing for the publishing industry and the questions they were trying to answer. That’s what made me want to be a part of this team.

What was your very first job and how did your career path take you to where you are today?

Since the very start of my career, I have worked in technology, including the early Internet newspapers. I was part of the very first group that put together a website for a media company in Brazil. I think the technology aspect drove my career and motivated me. I was always interested in what was going on with tech. It fascinates me how technology is involved in everything that we do, and it’s changing our habits, every single day.

Where might you go next? What’s your next role?

I think Tech was always a part of my interest. I’ve always been around tech somehow, so I believe I’ll continue to be. I’m very curious and amazed with what tech allows us to do and I’d like to be part of this movement. How it is changing the world every day. I believe I’ll continue evolving in the product organization, potentially specializing further in research and product consumer insights. I hope to develop further skills around the client like scientific techniques for business, experimentation, and statistics.

What motivates you for your future career? Will you stay in tech?

Yes – my plan is to continue in tech. Even before I started working, I was already interested in Tech. I was already asking questions about it and had a hunger to learn more. Especially around the Internet, and how it was affecting the media industry at the time. So, I believe I will continue to be in the tech industry, as it motivates me a lot. The intersection between business and technology is fascinating. I can also see myself pursuing teaching opportunities, to pass along the knowledge and experience accumulated over the years. It would be personally fulfilling, and it would also help me stay connected to the younger generation, and actually learn from them as well.

Any final words of advice, or advice for young people?

Be a curious person and ask many questions. Try to put yourselves in the other person’s shoes as much as you can. We all have a point of view, and when we understand this, we are open to looking for other perspectives, and we become wiser. We gain a new lens that can really make a difference in our daily life at work or elsewhere.

Don’t be afraid to try new things either. If we fail, we learn. Also, embrace what’s different about you. After some experience, this is something that is really important to pay attention to because, sometimes our differences are our strengths. When we are young, we sometimes fear things that are different, but we should embrace what’s different in us, and I believe that is key to success in life.