How to stay user centric and build with success 0-1, with Christiane Demgenski


Aug 22 2022 • 43 mins

As a product leader in a highly regulated market, how do you continue with testing and refining the solution before the product goes live? How do you balance up the role of the CPO in an early stage startup and a 4 month old? Christiane's experience shows multiple times that its possible to land your successful role in product no matter what field you are coming from.

Christiane is Franco-German, 31 years old and is a graduate from Sciences Po in Paris. After first experiences working for a UNESCO-sponsored NGO she joined Swiss largest bank, UBS, where she spent 5 years building innovative digital banking products in multiple roles – often as the only woman in the room.

From playing rugby in university to putting out literal fires as a volunteer firefighter and also being the only female in the room with 30 men in the IT department: she doesn't take no for an answer, and opens the door to females in other ways such as mentoring, developing and running webinars and leading a workshop for the University of St. Gallen.

In 2019, she joined Awina as CPO with the goal to use her newly acquired knowledge and tech skills to effect positive social change. She brought the company from a vague idea all the way to its first concrete product in the heavily regulated Swiss financial market. Awina launched in the fall of 2021 and aims to guide families through the Rush Hour of Life by providing a variety of products and services.

Today we are going to talk about:

- working as a female in traditionally male fields

- moving from a non-tech background into tech / product

- building product in young vs mature companies

Episode outline and highlights

[2.08] Finding a balance as a new mom

[5.56] Moving from IT in banking to product in a social impact field

[16.50] Following a journey of your customer and how that translates into product and relevant product features

[27.00] Christiane's path to product management and her experience in Israel

[39.18] Christiane's 3 core advice points

The learnings from building a product 0-1 in a heavily regulated FinTech

Think customer centric all the time. It's a natural thing to want to shy away from your customers - because they bring uncomfortable truths. The core is not to delay talking to your customers, even if you are in the regulated market and cannot launch within a short period of time.

You are not your customer. Especially if you build something that you may be using, you may fall into the trap of "thinking for the customer". As a PM you need to focus on the actual use case, continue with a discovery, and remove the layer of thinking of that pushes you to make shortcuts in developing the product. The worst thing that can happen is that you are building a product for several years that noone wants or needs. Christiane outlines the essential (and difficult) skills to keep your mind sharp on the needs of your consumer base and test all hypothesis before entering the "build" mode.

3 key take-aways from Christiane's experience

1. Trust yourself, it will all work out. You can set a certain path by your early life choices but you can always move and tint it to what you want to be

2. Stay open to possible opportunities- its good to know where you want to go, and also keep in mind that the world changes at a tremendous pace so we may now have new technologies in the 5-10 years period

3. Make space to make fun and for things that are not just work

Christiane on Linkedin

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