Great participants shape the experience at ProductCamp Amsterdam. In the meet the participant series we will explore the ProductCamp story of some of our participants. Up next: Eman Mifsud, who made the switch from a technical role in the pharmaceutical industry to product.
Hey Eman! Can you tell me a little about yourself and how you ended up in Product?
Hi, I’m Eman! I’m 29 years old and I’ve relocated to Amsterdam from Malta this January. I began my career in the pharmaceutical industry in 2013 but soon realised that I was drawn towards the tech space. After completing a master degree in Entrepreneurship, in 2016, I founded a startup called Shake Bench. Shake Bench was the AirBnB of coworking spaces. I had the role of product owner leading an agile team of developers and a designer to craft a product for people looking for a space to cowork or hold an event. Unfortunately, the startup did not scale-up and in the beginning of 2019 we closed down the company. During my time at Shake Bench I found my passion towards product and now I am looking for a career path in product management.
Do you think your background as a start-up founder benefits you as a Product Owner?
When starting a company, the product is half of the work because the other half is handling a lot of other boring tasks for instance the legal paperwork to open a company, opening a bank account, trade license, VAT registration, insurance etc… and also there are plenty of hiccups along the way like issues with the team and the suppliers that will help you form a 360 view of the company and the product. I believe this mindset is very important as a product owner because you can empathize with your team and stakeholders and also value other departments in the company.
How important is product when you create your own start-up?
In essence, a product is the result of all efforts of a company presented to the customers. It is a waste of money and time having great marketing but then the product fails to deliver. Juicero and Theranos are two notorious Silicon Valley startups that failed to deliver upon their promises. Unlike biotech startups, the majority of the startups have the benefit to incrementally improve their product by learning from the customer and release a new version quickly. The concept of the minimum viable product is wonderful as the product team can build a (buggy) product to test a hypothesis and according to the results of the outcome they figure out the next steps. So, definitely, a product-first mindset is vital in a start-up because ultimately customers want to benefit from the product.
This is the first time you’re attending right? Why did you decide to attend?
Yes, it is my first time attending such (un)conference event. Like many other expats, the first thing you do when you relocate to another country is to attend meetups and events to network with like-minded people with similar interests and careers. So, when I discovered more about this event through Maarten Dalmijn, I immediately signed up as I was sure that I will meet new people with similar interests and also learn new things about product management. The unique thing about ProductCamp is that there are no speakers. I believe this allows people to share their true experiences unlike structured conferences where sometimes the content is promotional or too theoretical.
What are you hoping to learn by attending ProductCamp?
By attending ProductCamp, I am interested to learn more about product management practises used by product people to make their products better.
Are you going to propose a session, if so what session and format will you propose?
In theory, estimation of development is the sole responsibility of the the development team. However, in reality the situation might be different depending on the nature of the company. So, I would propose a session on how to empower the development team to make accurate estimates and support them to take ownership of their decisions. This session would have the format of birds of a feather.
What do you like doing in your free time?
I like to keep myself active with some exercise, cooking/eating good food and travelling. My goal is to visit every country in Europe (already half-way there). Currently I am investing my time in reading books and other resources about product as I am currently looking for a job in product with a tech company in The Netherlands.
Thanks for your time Eman, hope to see you at ProductCamp this Sunday!