Remote Product Managing on a global scale with Joe Prince 

Joe Prince, Joe Prince, Director of Product at Laine by Bain & Company, in front of Salt's wall

Remote working opens a world of opportunities – for the Product industry more than most! Joe Prince, Manager at Bain & Company, previously Director of Product at Laine by Bain & Company, shares how he managed Product remotely with teams of global talent, and strategic tips for managers to keep their ways of working productive and sustainable across borders. Here are his top tips to help with remote product managing!

In this interview series Associate Director Consultant for Creative, Holley Potts, gives you a snapshot into Product and Creative career journeys. 

Hiring in Product? Salt can help 

Looking for your next Product role? We have some amazing opportunities for you!

A word from Holley Potts  

Post-COVID, remote work is more common than ever, and these models open up a whole world of opportunities in terms of talent and specialist skillsets. Remote working, particularly for companies spanning multiple time zones, can be a challenge! However, for some industries, like Product, this way of working actually has huge advantages that you can realize with the right approach! 

I loved gaining this exclusive snapshot into the world of Product from Joe Prince, previously Director of Product at Laine by Bain & Company and now Manager at Bain & Company.  Joe has a background in consulting but took an opportunity to try his hand as a Product Manager with Laine, an exciting new startup powering marketing analytics with AI. Working with teams around the world in a remote capacity – he shares his story, how to collaborate remotely on a global scale, and what the future holds for the Product industry. 

Want to work with Holley? Get in touch on LinkedIn

How did you go from consulting to managing a product? 

I’ve been in consulting at Bain for around five years now and really enjoying my time here. You enter consulting so you can get to work with large established companies and build a well-rounded skill set. But at the same time, sometimes you can feel that you’re missing that opportunity to really build something new, because you’re in more of an advisory capacity in a consulting role.  

We have an internal venture incubator called the Founder’s Studio, and I applied to join a new venture called Laine, an AI-powered marketing analytics start-up born out of our annual hackathon. There were a few roles going across the business, but I saw myself in Product as I wanted to get that set of skills and experiences.  

In consulting, I’ve been lucky to work on projects across industries and capabilities, but Product Management was an opportunity to try something very different.  

How can Product Managers collaborate with global, remote teams? 

In our venture, the trend toward remote working has had a huge impact. For context, we work in a fully global team. From West to East, we have people in San Francisco, Minnesota, Boston, London, Milan, Delhi and Seoul.   

Time zones are one of our biggest challenges but also a huge opportunity. 

With a remote team, we can source great talent within the company across the globe, which you just cannot do in companies where you’re in the office two or three days a week. 

Want to get started? Read Salt’s ultimate guide on hiring and managing remote workers.

Here are some of my takeaways for managing fully remote ventures spread out geographically: 

1. Maximise how your working hours overlap across time zones. 

To be effective in managing time zone differences, try to maximise working hours overlapping during the day. But at the same time, be really thoughtful about which sessions go when. Question which ones you really need so that you can respect local time zone norms as much as possible. 

For example, I check in with our developers each morning because they’re based in India, so in their afternoon. Then my afternoon sessions are with our American team, where we’re more brainstorming new approaches that we can then go and implement with our developers the next day.  

2. Schedule whole team sessions when speed is needed. 

We schedule sessions for the entire team across the US, Europe and Asia only when we really need them because of how much they eat into everyone’s time-zones. You only do that when you need live input across the board, or when you’re working on something that you’re trying to iterate on very quickly.  

In Product, if something’s not quite understood correctly, then you can easily waste a day if you can’t iterate until you’ve had a chance to discuss, collaborate and get feedback.  

3. Manage fatigue by planning breaks between meetings. 

It’s really important to maximise those hours of overlap – but the downside is that my calendar is basically blocked from 4 pm till 7 or 8 pm. You can definitely get Zoom fatigue, and at a time of the day where you’re probably already your least productive self. 

I try to start all meetings five minutes past the hour as a little trick. The thinking is that if you can manage it in 30 minutes, then you can probably manage it in 25, and that gives everyone little breaks during these crunch hours. 

For someone in Europe that is part of a global team, the most important takeaway is to work out when to invest in which parts of your day, and acknowledge your energy is also a finite resource. You have to be really careful how you allocate that to avoid burn out.  

4. Be extra clear about priorities.  

In Product Management, it’s also important to be extra clear on priorities, which is something you also pick up in consulting.  

Everyone needs sufficient ownership of what they’re doing and enough runway to be clear on what they can work on in the absence of other team members. This is as important as ever when you’re doing remote work.  

5. Use productivity tools to stay connected remotely. 

Being up to speed with whatever productivity tools you’re using across the team can also be beneficial.  

We spend a lot of time in Notion to help us manage our sprints and break them down into tasks, which helps everyone get clear on what each team member is working on. If you run into issues, you can pivot onto something else and not waste too much valuable sprint time.  

For creative brainstorming, we have also started to use Miro which has been quite helpful.  

Want more ideas? Check out Salt’s 3 top tips for managing remote workers 

How can Product Managers gather customer insights and conduct user research remotely? 

This one’s a very interesting question because in some ways you are more restricted but in other ways, you have some more flexibility.  

Our geography is a benefit to our customers! When you’re working remotely as the norm, you can more easily onboard customers across the world given time zone coverage across the team. I’m in the UK, and many of our customers are based in the US.  

As far as user research and insights goes, when we do have customer calls, we try to get them to use the product live and share their screens while doing so. This will sound basic but capturing the nuance of exactly where the customer is drawn to on the screen and what they’re interested in is very valuable. 

Having 3-4 people on a call is also easier than crowding around a desktop in real life. You can also record the session to share the videos with the broader team on a regular basis, so that everyone is always up to date with the latest customer feedback, and can also delve into specific sections of the video most relevant for their workstreams. 

What do you see in the future in terms of working models in Product Management? 

Like most office jobs, it’s clear that a significant segment of Product Manager work will likely stay remote in a post-COVID world.   

Aside from people’s work-from-home preferences, hiring across geographies opens up more opportunities and can be sustainable when done right, so some start-ups and scale-ups will still opt for that global model. 

Want to get started? Read Salt’s ultimate guide on hiring and managing remote workers.

Investment in various productivity and prioritisation tools is definitely high on my list when it comes to strategies. Ensuring explicit visibility across the team on your most important tasks will just help you move faster with fewer reps.  Any investment you’ve made in honing that process can yield more benefits if you’re on the same page and managing it in real-time, regardless of whether you’re in person or remote.  

For those that are working remotely, going into some kind of co-working space for some in-person interaction at times has been crucial for me. This is especially true if you’re in an incubator or some kind of accelerator program. I’d strongly recommend taking advantage of any offices or co-working spaces they offer, where there are people from other ventures around who you can sit with or speak to and learn from some of the challenges you are both facing. 

Hiring in Product? Salt can help 

What advice do you wish you knew about Product at the start of your career? 

Product is all about getting something done fast and getting a minimal viable product (MVP) out there. Don’t stress about the details.  

There’s always a temptation to finesse something. Not least for ex-consultants, who are taught to be “zero defect”. But ultimately, you will get the chance to “perfect” it in future versions.  

In fact, you won’t have any chance of perfecting it until you get customer feedback. So, the sooner you can get something out there to get that feedback, the sooner you’re going to be set up for success – as long as you can manage the expectations of your alpha customers accordingly.  

I think that’s something I would encourage product managers to be more okay with – just getting things out there and not really worrying about everything being exactly right.  

Looking for your next Product role? We have some amazing opportunities for you!

Are you a leader of a D2C brand who feels like there’s a lot more you can do with your marketing data?  

Laine is an AI-powered growth marketing guide that cuts through data clutter to surface the most critical insights and recommendations to unlock growth. Schedule a chat or product demo to learn more here.   

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Joe Prince, Joe Prince, Director of Product at Laine by Bain & Company, in front of Salt's wall

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