Interview with an Ex AOL Product Manager

Brunella Russo has worked as a product manager at AOL – she currently works at Reed Business Information and has gained valuable experience in launching new products into untapped on-line market spaces.
1. What’s your academic background/training?
I have a BA (H) in International Business and a Msc in Information Systems.

2. What did you do before you where a product manager?
I was working in Luxembourg for a Financial Company in an Account Management/Client Support role.

3. Where did you work before you worked for RBI?
AOL and prior to that I worked for Schroders Investment Management

4. What inspired you to become a product manager?
The variety of the job

5. How did you make the move from being a Account Manager to becoming a product manager?I started as an Account Manager in a Financial company while studying for my BA. Once I graduated I was moved to London by the company to an e-marketing position, holding a role which was similar to the Product Management one.

6. What do you like best about your job?
The great buzz that this role gives and its variety. Also, it is a role which combines the best out of several different roles, from project management to consulting.

7. What do you least like about your job?
The fact that rarely the roles involves completed ownership of the product, which generally lies with the Business Owner (who has ultimate P/L responsibility).

8. How do you keep up with the latest technologies?
By reading a lot on the Internet and getting the latest hints through friends and colleagues in the field.

9. Describe your PM job in one sentence.
Rather challenging but good fun!

10. What’s your dream product to manage?
Games or Disney movies/music :-)

11. How would you describe managing product development before you/your company adopted agile?
Far more difficult and less successful as the waterfall approach was not responding to the constantly changing needs of an internet-based company.

12. How has using agile (scrum) changed your working day?
With the adoption of agile development methodology the day is far more structured and organised both for me and the development team. There is also more visibility on the accomplishments that the team achieves and potential issues that might affect the development are spotted well in advance.

13. What would be the top three attributes you need to do your job?
Great communication skills, ability to quickly move from the little detail to the overall picture and vice versa and ability to work well under stress.

14. What’s the key attribute you need in order to work with the development team?

15. What do you do when you’re not managing products (outside interests)?
Mmm… at the moment I ride my motorbike, dance tango, go to the Theatre and Opera, play volleyball, play guitar and cook a lot!

1 comment:

  1. This is a very interesting interview. I had always wanted to be a Product Manager at AOL but heard the high level of expectations and standards there made it difficult for anyone without MBA training to get a foot in the door. Ms Russo must be of the highest caliber! I might just reapply!