Currently the EVP of Product at Zendesk, Shawna Wolverton was previously SVP of Product Management at Salesforce.
When Shawna Wolverton began her career in product management, the role was just being established for software companies in Silicon Valley. She joined Salesforce when the company had just 300 people and grew her role and influence in the PM sphere for 14 years, eventually becoming senior vice president of product management. In Shawna’s current role as executive vice president of product at Zendesk, she brings a wealth of expertise to building and leading a robust team of product people who are following in her footsteps.
“When I think about building teams, I'm always optimizing for people who are great communicators, for people who have really, really passionate points of view and an obsession with customers,” she says.
Shawna puts customers at the heart of everything she does and considers their trust in her team to be sacrosanct: “It is just so, so, so important that you maintain the trust of your customers. Especially in a SaaS environment where they rely entirely on you. If you've become an integral part of how they run their business, they're putting a lot of trust in you to deliver and to keep that piece of software running, to make it scale with them as they grow. I like to think of both scale and reliability as customer features.”
On this episode of This Is Product Management, Shawna shares a veritable primer on how to succeed in product management — including her secrets for challenging assumptions about your customers and peddling “soft influence”.
Download the transcript of this episode here:
Here are the highlights:
Why planning your career is like planning for how you're going to die: 4:44
What makes great product people: 8:45
The world’s most fun release notes: 16:20
The importance of maintaining customer trust: 32:00