Wednesday, August 20, 2008
From time to time we'll introduce you to a member of the Checkout team. Meet another one now.
Alyssa: How long have you been at Google, and what role do you play on Checkout?
David: I've been an associate product manager on Google Checkout since joining Google last June.
Alyssa: What did you do before coming to Google?
David: I came to Google directly out of college. I attended a very small engineering school in Boston called Olin College of Engineering, where I studied bioengineering. I know, I know. It has nothing to do with my job at Google. But hey -- one of these days, I may find a way to apply my degree to Checkout. In junior year of college, I actually dropped out for a semester to start a web 2.0 company called Flagr. Flagr is a social network based around the places you go and the things you see. Flagr's slogan explains it all: Bookmark the real world. This was a fantastic experience, and offered me incredible insight into the world of Silicon Valley, angel investors, and VCs. I often reference my experiences at Flagr on my day-to-day role on Checkout.
Alyssa: What sorts of things fill your day?
David: One of the best aspects of my job at Google is that each day I face a completely new set of challenges and opportunities. It's such a fast-paced, dynamic environment that it's hard to fall into a routine. This makes a question like this difficult to answer, but let me give it a shot...
In a typical day, here are some things I may do:
- Draft a product brief: This is a proposal that outlines a potential new Checkout feature and presents a strong business case for why we should add it to the product. We work hard to ensure our time is spent developing the most effective features.
- Mock something up: I'm a fairly visual guy, so I tend to get myself involved in the user interface design of my projects.
- Reach out to merchants: Merchant feedback plays a big role in new feature development, so I frequently reach out to merchants to add them as testers.
- Learn about other Google initiatives: As you might expect, there's a lot going on at Google. A big part of the product management role here is understanding all the other initiatives that are under way, so you can better grasp a) how your features fit into the bigger picture and b) how your team can collaborate with other Google teams to create even better products.
- Try stuff out: I typically sign up for one or two web services in the commerce space each day, just to see what the competitive marketplace looks like.
Alyssa: What has been an incredible moment that you have experienced since joining?
David: A few months ago, I traveled around the world (literally) with 35 of my fellow associate product managers as part of an annual trip. We visited four countries over the span of two weeks: Japan, China, Russia, and Norway. Our schedule was jam-packed! We visited local Google offices, interviewed Google users, met with high-tech startups and venture capitalists, and toured all four cities.
As you may have guessed, the trip was full of incredible moments. But one morning, we woke up early to visit the Tsujiki fish market in Tokyo. The market serves as a central auction place for Japanese fish vendors and merchants. Thousands of merchants line up for their chance to bid on the latest catch -- huge, one-ton tunas that cost thousands of dollars each. Surrounding the auction are hundreds of local vendors, each selling a variety of unidentifiable (but edible) sea creatures. Some of these merchants are bargaining with customers, some are slicing and dicing fish with machetes, and some are transporting their loads at lightening speed on modified go-carts.
A hectic place to be at 5:00 am! As a sushi lover, you can imagine this was an amazing experience. What topped it off was the two pounds of raw fish I had for breakfast that morning. With so much supply, the prices were incredibly low and the fish was really fresh. It certainly reset my expectations for what good sushi should taste like.
Alyssa: What about when you are off duty?
David: When I'm not at Google, I enjoy throwing a Frisbee, exploring new and interesting places around the world with my fiancée, dabbling in some eCommerce ventures of my own, and -- of course -- playing with my Maltese puppy, "Maya." I'm also a big fan of the financial markets, where I like to trade option spreads. How do I spend Friday night? Watching a Netflix DVD, a Lost episode, or perhaps hanging out at Barnes and Noble with a great book.
Posted by Alyssa England, Google Checkout Team