Bethany Pagels-Minor: “Whichever app I use, I always wonder what could have been built better”
“I would like to continue to move up the ladder in product culminating in roles with titles like VP, Product or Chief Product Officer”: Bethany Pagels-Minor (32) is an ambitious woman. That does not just show whenever you ask her what she hopes to do in five to ten years. It shows in the smallest things: “I am one of those people who go to a website or use an app and immediately start thinking about how it could have been built better or more intuitively.” Sprout Social is lucky for having her as a Senior Product Manager.
The Americain Bethany got her Bachelors of Art, Northwestern University 2008, followed by her MBA on Robert Morris University. Now she puts all her hard studying into work at Sprout Social. “Essentially, we look at the big picture of a given product, the industry it is in, the team we have, and we figure out what our company should build. This is called finding the greatest business value for our company, so we can generate the greatest ROI for our companies based on the amount of time and money expended to build the product.”
That makes us wonder, what does an average working day look like for a PM? “It really depends on the day. Examples of things I might do is check Jira first thing to determine if there are any stories for me to review. Then I probably have stand with my team to talk about what we’ve been doing. Next I might set up some time to meet with a designer. Then I might need to meet with some sort of stakeholder to clarify a feature. Lastly, I might write up a new story to add to our next sprint to work on. It honestly can be a little of everything as it depends on what types of problems need to be solved on a given day at a given moment.
Product owner, that does not directly sound like a dream job of a young person, how did Bethany get into this field? “I was working at my first tech company, ShareASale, and had become pretty frustrated with the lack of new development in the product. My frustration led me to read up on software development which led me to the idea of a PM and how I was probably a perfect fit for that type of role. I am one of those people who go to a website or use an app and immediately start thinking about how it could have been built better or more intuitively. For this reason, I wanted to get into the tech industry to build those products.”
The road to becoming a Senior Product Owner was not easy. “After looking at all of the careers, being a PM just seemed like the exact right path for me. However, it was difficult to become a PM but that stems from the fact that when I started this work there were much less specific training, degrees, etc. so it was difficult to understand what I needed to know to become a PM.”
Thankfully she was able to improve herself by taking courses. “Since starting in the field, I have now taken more formalized courses and now have a Certified Scrum Product Owner (CSPO) and a PMI-ACP (essentially a PMP for agile practitioners.) Both of these certificated have been great at helping me level up my understanding of how to build great products and made me a better PM.”
Being a PM is a very interesting job, but there are a few misconceptions about it: “Generally, many people don’t understand the PM role. They often think we just boss people around or something else in that vein. However, it is really a high-stress role with a great deal of responsibility to the business to ensure the right things are being built to drive revenue and meet company goals.”