This is one story in a series highlighting our unique leaders at Aura for Women’s History Month, as told by the women who work every day to help people around the world connect and keep their memories alive.
These days, Jennifer Liu’s most memorable moments are measured in giggles.
The tiniest smile from her newborn daughter Josie lights up any room and brings her joy as she balances the demands of being a new mom and a Product Manager at Aura.
Jennifer’s day is mostly filled with coordination meetings with her team and other departments.
When she’s not in meetings, she’s doing research and data analysis and making sure her team is aligned on Aura’s business objectives, product strategies, and customer needs.
It’s safe to say that no two days are the same.
“On a good day, I wake up at 8 a.m.,” said Jennifer. “But on some days, I get up at 5 a.m. depending on when Josie wants to be fed.”
Jennifer’s husband Yang, who is on paternity leave, comes and takes over her shift so that she can eat breakfast and then hop into her meetings for the day.
In the afternoon, Jennifer plays with her daughter, feeds her before bedtime, and then hops back online to wrap up emails and finish up work for the day.
“It’s a lot of work but the biggest adjustment is no longer having extra time after work to think about problems,” said Jennifer. “I usually do some work after work like data analysis and that just completely disappeared along with that mind space.”
Jennifer has learned flexibility during this time and feels grateful for the opportunity to work from home so that she can conveniently pump and tend to Josie when needed.
When her career first began, she couldn’t have predicted balancing work along with motherhood during a global pandemic.
But it's her passion for problem-solving and figuring out the complex and sometimes ambiguous world of consumer products, that keeps her inspired.
“When I think about the people I know and admire, I see just how important structured thinking is,” said Jennifer. “You have to structure your thinking and then frame the problem to the company and stakeholders and that really drives the decision-making process.”
Jennifer said that structured thinking, on top of being a good communicator and knowing who the key decision-makers are, is key to being a successful product manager.
“The consumer space is the most unbounded space because it’s based on human behavior versus enterprise which is more transactional and has a service-driven purpose,” said Jennifer. “You have to communicate and have the emotional intelligence to know who to reach out to and how to get things done when it’s not possible.”
Jennifer is curious to know why people are using products in a certain way which often isn’t known until she digs into the data. She also talks to consumers to get an idea of how Aura’s products impact and influence them.
“Even when you talk to customers, they may not tell you a direct answer so you have to do a combination of digging into the data, running tests, and using intuition.,” said Jennifer.
“This area of consumer products is interesting because a lot of the things we use, we choose to use and we choose to use them because they’re delightful. The unboundedness of it adds to the ambiguity.”
Jennifer’s background in quantitative analysis helps solve the puzzle of consumer behavior as she runs queries and data, and then analyzing it, ultimately helping Aura make important data-driven decisions.
However, even with all of the analyses, the world of product management is still evolving. As its responsibilities and principles change, so does its function and required skills at any given company.
That’s why Jennifer says young women interested in product management should never box themselves in or get discouraged by a lack of experience in a certain area. She recommends they keep applying, even if they may not have as many years of experience mentioned in the official job description.
“A lot of times, places will post a job and say that they need five years of product management experience but you should definitely apply, even if you don’t think you qualify,” said Jennifer.
“Don’t be discouraged. Even interviews for jobs that you might not get will give you a little more of the language product management speaks. You won’t know until you explore a little bit more and put yourself out there so I’d say just keep going.”