The bank for a changing world

The banking jobs: the product owner, the essential leader in the digital era

  • Lisa Cabot Senior product manager
  • San Francisco
  • 28.10.2020

Job titles are not always so straightforward. When it comes to the position of product owner, there can be some confusion about the exact nature of the role. However, this hybrid profession combining technological skills and business savvy has become ubiquitous and offers promising career opportunities. Lisa Cabot, Senior Product Manager at Bank of the West, helps us learn more about her job.

Can you briefly describe the job of product owner? 

Lisa Cabot: The product owner's mission is to ensure customer satisfaction, by offering digital interfaces that are easy to access and use. This role therefore acts as a link between users, on the one hand, and developers on the other, while taking into account business objectives. Take the example of the bank's website: the product owner makes sure that the customer can easily navigate the interface: change address, make a transfer, every aspect should be smooth and easy. Today, this is a highly strategic job because this person specializes in a point of contact that has become essential between a company and its customers: the digital interface.  
 

This job is booming. Is that due to the digital transformation?

L.C: Absolutely. Digital is now the premiere and most commonly used channel. That means the product owner plays an invaluable role: he or she must help us retain and attract customers through our digital interfaces.

The product owner’s primary tool is the backlog. Can you tell us more about it?

L.C: I prefer to call it "the catalog". It is a roadmap that lists what needs to be done to improve the product (site, app, etc.) under the product owner's responsibility. The product owner then organizes the team's work by indicating the level of priority for each task. This means that the backlog is constantly evolving: the product owner updates and completes it according to needs and feedback. In other words, the product owner is the one who determines the backlog and prioritizes the developments needed for the product in question. This prioritization is established according to several parameters: financial and commercial objectives, market trends, shareholder expectations, technical feasibility and customer experience.


Portrait

the product owner works closely with the whole company  

L.C: This is one of the exciting aspects of this job. Finance, marketing, design, IT: the product owner has to seek out information from everyone. This job requires both technical acumen and an excellent understanding of business issues.

What makes a “good” product owner?

L.C: The job of product owner requires vast curiosity and multi-directional understanding in areas we previously mentioned: technology, business, customer experience, etc. I would add that the product owner must be able to empathize and put themselves in another person's shoes. Otherwise it is difficult to prioritize projects and organize the expectations of stakeholders and users.

The job of product owner requires vast curiosity and multi-directional understanding

The product owner is also a "connector", connecting ideas and people, but also product functionalities. This is someone who makes connections and facilitates interaction.

Finally, the product owner must think strategically in order to make decisions and prioritize. How can we meet this or that demand? How can we achieve this or that goal?

What advice would you give to an aspiring product owner?

L.C: To be mentored by an experienced product owner or product manager, in order to grasp the way of thinking and seeing things: how a problem is approached, how it can be transformed into an opportunity, learning how to prioritize tasks, what technical improvements are involved for developers, understanding the end customer... All of this requires tremendous flexibility, which is what makes the job of product owner so appealing!

Today, this is a highly strategic job because this person specializes in a point of contact that has become essential between a company and its customers: the digital interface 


Photos : ©rh2010 / ©krass99

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