We start a series of blog posts that will tell you about the people that work in our company, their work, and, of course, their hobbies and interests. Keep following on our blog and find the recent information about us and our products.
Today we will have a talk with Katerina Kolina, our product manager.
Please tell a bit about yourself and your position at StiltSoft.
Being a small team, each of us has several roles at StiltSoft. I would say I am mostly a product owner nowadays.
Could you please recall how you joined StiltSoft. What it was like?
I started at StiltSoft about four and a half years ago. I was hungry for new and exciting things. Being new to the IT world, I found plenty of those at this job. The most special part was communication with developers. It’s an unforgettable feeling when an engineer tells you something. It sounds Russian. All the tech words seem familiar, but the general meaning slips away. You keep listening hoping that the next sentence will give the needed piece to complete the whole puzzle in your head. And at some point your brain just throws the ‘Out of memory’ error.
Where did you work prior to StiltSoft? Do you use that experience in your current work?
I worked at school as a teacher of English for 1 year and then got a job at a foreign company that was producing wooden round timber houses and recycling roofing material. It was a small firm started and ran by a Danish. I worked there for quite a while. I learnt a lot about production, handling situations with employees, partners and clients, and risk management. That experience was rather different from what I do today. I rather took some personal lessons from there that guide me today.
What was the first task you got?
I don’t really remember which was the first one. One of the tasks that I got at the very beginning was a video of the permissions feature in one of our apps, Talk. I made it in Camtasia, which I never used before. When I recall myself working on that video, it strikes me how such a simple thing was time consuming, because everything was new (and because of excessive perfectionism too )
Describe your work in five words and explain why you use these words.
- Freedom. I love freedom. And it’s one of the basic things that I need in life and work. I lose drive and get frustrated when all I have to do is work on ideas of others. At this job I have plenty of freedom to generate ideas, experiment, make things my way, which I really appreciate.
- Creativity. Creativity is another important aspect for me. I enjoy the process of making something new – marinating ideas and following them from a concept till a working solution.
- Enjoyment. Pleasure and enjoyment from what I do matter a lot to me.
- Variety. I feel bored from routine repeated tasks. The fact that I have various responsibilities keep it interesting.
- Relationships. Having fulfilling relationships with colleagues is important for me too.
What products do you work at?
- Courses and Quizzes LMS app for Confluence
- Talk – Advanced Inline Comments for Confluence
- Plain Tasks for Jira
I was there from the first release of Courses and Quizzes LMS. It made this app very dear to my heart. Everyone in the company knows about my love to this product.
The Courses and Quizzes LMS team
Is it easy to manage products and their development?
It is interesting, but not easy, which is good. With no challenges there’s less satisfaction afterwards. Sometimes it’s hard to juggle work on releases, customer development and support. I had no B2B marketing experience before coming to StiltSoft, so promoting apps has been through trial and error. I am still in the process of finding what works best.
What qualities a successful product manager should have?
If we exclude skills and talk only about qualities, my ideal mixture would include being sharp-eyed, clearheaded, consistent, empathetic and persevering.
Is it easy to communicate with developers? Any tricks?
I think it takes the two to make it work. I noticed things get easier when both a developer and I try to remember that I don’t have the same understanding of the technical side of things as they do and adjust communication accordingly. One of the challenges for me is that technical details tend to become blurry if I rely only on my memory. We might discuss something about a feature and everything seems clear and obvious. When I have to get back to whys, hows and whats a few months later I find blank spots. So I figured making notes rules even if I am sure I don’t need them.
Working with our developers
Name three things that you love working at StiltSoft for?
Its unique atmosphere. Growing company. Lots of learning opportunities and interesting projects.
What would you like to improve in your current work?
Better time management. Higher emphasis on customer development. Boost app promoting practices.
What was the greatest fuckup in your work?
I instantly remembered one that happened a long time ago at the beginning of my work at StiltSoft. Being very respectful towards customers in general, I once was in a playful mood and while writing an internal note to my colleague in our helpdesk system, I commented something about the case we were investigating. I don’t remember the details. But what I am definite about is that it would be awkward if the client read it. Lucky me. I messed up and sent it as an external comment. I noticed that the moment I clicked Sent and frantically clicked Cancel at lightning speed. I wasn’t sure it wasn’t sent and spent the next very long 5-10 minutes all worried and remorseful while our admin was checking the support system mail logs. Fortunately, I dodged the bullet – the message wasn’t sent to the client. It gave me a great lesson. Be faithful to your values. If you are respectful 99 times out of 100, that one time that you got sloppy can devalue all the 99 times.
Do you have any hobbies? What are they?
I love yoga, travelling and self-exploration. Recently I am into healthy eating and how food, posture and psycho-emotional issues are connected.
Yoga time at StiltSoft
How do you combine your work with personal life?
I am trying to balance them. I appreciate we have a flexible working schedule. It really helps with maintaining that balance.
Thanks Katya for your answers. I hope it was interesting for our readers to get acquainted with you without seeing.
We will continue posting new interviews with people who work at StiltSoft. Keep following us!