What’s It like Working as a Product Manager? A PM at OnDeck Takes You through His Day

Lily Herman
What’s It like Working as a Product Manager? A PM at OnDeck Takes You through His Day

If someone said, “I’m a product manager,” would you actually know what that means? Aside from thinking that it sounds like something straight out of The Social Network, probably not. But now’s your chance to learn about what PMs do on a daily basis — and how the role could become the perfect job for you.

We got to talk to Kennan Murphy-Sierra, 2014 grad from Stanford who now works an Associate Product Manager for OnDeck®, the leader in online lending for small business.

Once you read what Kennan does on the day-to-day (hint: it’s really cool!), we know you’re going to be wondering if OnDeck has other roles open, so make sure to check out the company’s [positions] on WayUp now!

What does an Associate Product Manager in your role at OnDeck do?

Kennan Murphy-Sierra: Our product management team builds financial products and user experiences for small business owners, internal users (like marketing, sales, and analytics), and OnDeck business partners. Our job starts with identifying and solving for user needs, evaluating the business case viability of the preferred solution, partnering with different departments to deliver solutions, and continuously monitoring and improving our products. In my role, I am responsible for the user experience of our sales agents and small business owners during our financing application process.

Can you take us through what you did at your job yesterday from the second you walked in the office until the moment you left? What key responsibilities do you tackle on a daily basis?

KMS: It went something like this:

  • Impromptu breakfast catch up with the data [team] to talk about testing a project.
  • Daily standup with tech team (we map out the latest updates in our software development progress).
  • Syncing with a product manager in DC about requirements for a project that will enter development soon.
  • Meeting with tech and sales leaders to nail down requirements for a 2017 initiative.
  • Sizing a new core system feature with tech leads to determine expected timeline and headcount.
  • Double-checking some wording with our legal team and then giving the green-light on a release.
  • Taking a break for a blind 12-chocolate tasting contest between our tech team and the website tech team – we won!

What drew you to working at OnDeck in particular? What makes OnDeck an amazing place to work?

KMS: I was looking for a mid-sized “sweet spot” company that has the mentorship, training, and respected brand recognition of a large company while also providing you [with] the ownership, quickness, and growth opportunities available at small companies. I really believe that at OnDeck, we are enabling the dream for small business owners to pursue their passions and achieve their goals. It’s also really fun that co-workers often stay a bit longer at the office after finishing work simply to socialize and play a couple rounds of ping-pong.

We love ping-pong. That’s so fun! What’s your favorite part of the job?

KMS: I get to be in the ultimate team-player role as I partner and work cross-functionally with engineering, sales, data, marketing, operations, support teams, legal, and business stakeholders to deliver great products and features and collectively win as a team.

What’s something surprising about your role that most people wouldn’t know?

KMS: A substantial amount of detailed work goes into quantifying the business impact and sizing the costs of a proposed project so that we can objectively determine priorities among projects without bureaucracy, red-tape, or politics.

What advice do you have for people who are applying to a similar position at OnDeck?

KMS: Three things:

  • Live and breathe products, think critically about what you like or dislike about products you use, how you would improve them, and what would be the business impact and cost of your proposed idea.
  • Gain experience working with people with different perspectives and experiences.
  • Embrace uncertainty. Explore building your own website or product and think about user experience decisions you are making.

How have you grown professionally during your time at OnDeck?

KMS: Overall I am developing general management skills. In just six months, I have learned how to more effectively run meetings, identify root problems, facilitate brainstorming sessions, create data-tested business plans, address ad-hoc issues, communicate across multiple teams, and motivate and recognize great work from individuals, all while having fun and enjoying all aspects of the role!

We’re pretty much sold after talking to Kennan, and you probably are, too. Think Kennan’s job at OnDeck sounds like something you’d want to do on a daily basis? You’re in luck: OnDeck is hiring summer interns on WayUp now!

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