5 Minutes with Rakalene Condon
Rakalene Condon is Head of API and Partner Integrations at CoreLogic, leading a team that delivers bespoke data solutions for clients. She’s speaking at Leading the Product in Melbourne on 19th October. Below she shares how she got into Product Management, and two of her current favourite books.
1. Product Managers often have varied backgrounds before becoming a Product Manager. How did you get into Product Management?
I’ve always been interested in approaching things from multiple perspectives. The first time I went to university I studied Arts and Science. Both were of immense interest and I just couldn’t decide. I ended up quitting to travel the world, but when I returned I had a good sense of what I knew – and some of the things I was good at. I’ve always been good at translating between the technical and the non-technical, and being able to bring people on a journey with me when I tell stories. I ended up completing my studies with a mix of business and technical subjects, and cut my teeth in the tech world working on client projects for a transactional billing and rating engine in the telecommunications space. I quickly ended up becoming the person who could liaise between what ‘marketing’ wanted, and what the technical solution could be – essentially brokering conversations between the real-world needs / outcomes articulated by marketers and the constraints and capabilities of the systems engineers. Throw in a stint moving to South Africa to build a new telco from scratch in six months where I ran the team building the CRM component and designing the process and flows for service within the organisation (in reflection, really a technical product role!), a few kids, and I ended up in a great role within an R&D part of a software development company that were transitioning to agile and really examining lean and other practices. It gave me a chance to dig back into the theory and unpack what Product Management is and isn’t, and experiment with trying a few new things within our organisation and where they worked, trying to do them at scale! For the past few years I’ve been within a data and analytics organisation, grappling with how to commercialise data!
2. We love reading here at Brainmates and have quite the library of books. What book have you read lately that has really influenced you?
I actually get a lot of inspiration from fiction and non-fiction not about my area (in addition to the domain-specific non-fiction I read). I’m a voracious reader – it’s part of the joy in my days. Two authors that I draw inspiration from that I’ve read relatively recently: 1. The World Without Us (Alan Weisman) – for the perspective it gave me, and how his examination of the what-ifs challenged me to think about my own world (and what I can influence) in a different way; and 2. David Sedaris – anything he has written – it’s the minutiae that he observes and writes about so candidly and so hilariously – that makes me reflect on the small things – from a product and a personal perspective, small things make such a difference!
3. How do you do Product management? What’s your “secret sauce”? What we really want here are things that others can apply in their job.
Make sure you leave time for dreaming. What could this product look, touch and feel like if the barriers/constraints we face now were removed? Use your imagination! It’s easy to get consumed in the operational side of Product Management. You need to remember to make space for the vision and creativity!