It sometimes feels like Steve is everywhere, but it’s really because he is. As the Director of Product Management, he is with clients, developers, the CEO, marketing… and somehow still has time to lead a webinar on CMiC Mobile Field. Recognized for his strong work ethic, Steve is an example of the unique career paths available at CMiC for those willing to forge their own.
When did you join CMiC and why?
I joined in July 2013 shortly after graduating from business school. When I was first searching for a job, I was considering opportunities in Sales. I found a posting online for CMiC and was brought in for a group interview with Gord, the President & CEO. I went in convinced that I was best suited for Sales, but Gord thought I would be a better fit for the Solutions team. At the time, I didn’t even know that ‘Solutions’ was a career. I think when you’re a student, you’re not fully aware of all the career options out there.
What is your role at CMiC?
I am the Director of Product Management. I began as a Solutions Consultant, where I was showing the product to customers. Part of the job was making sure that the customer sees the product in its best light and wants to use it. I quickly realized that it was difficult to ‘demo’ our mobile application. I began to share the bugs with the development manager, which then snowballed into testing the latest version of the product and suggesting new features. Again, I didn’t know product management was a job, but I was essentially doing both Solutions and Product at the same time. Eventually Gord gave me the opportunity to own the Product Manager role full-time, which grew into more responsibilities, managing more product and bringing a team on board.
Today I manage communications internally and externally for the product, brainstorm new features, act as a liaison between the customer and our engineering team, along with many other collaborative tasks. I work with a fantastic team of people across the company to make this all happen.
What does a typical day for Steve look like?
My day starts as soon as I get into my car. I try to make use of my 45-minute commute from the city by scheduling calls with our developers in India (the time difference works perfectly!). If it’s not a phone call, then I’ll be listening to a podcast.
My day is always different; that’s the beauty of working with product. I might have a meeting with a customer one day and an internal meeting about design the next—it really differs each day. Good product managers are the quarterbacks for their product and will easily adapt according to the play.
What is your favourite CMiC product, and why?
Mobile Field. Not only was it the first product I worked on, but I have a soft spot for it because it was a product that initially wasn’t successful. The product took longer than anybody anticipated, but it was ultimately our persistence that got it to the great product we know today. Five years ago, we were up against other products on the market with development teams much larger than ours. When you’re building new products (or features) it’s difficult to get hit a “home-run” in your first round of development. That’s why it’s so important to for the whole team to remain persistent and work through the problems that come up in the 1.0 builds.
Share with me your best CMiC memory.
We were in a meeting with ECAB (Executive CMiC Advisory Board), when the CIO of JE Dunn announced that they will ‘go-live’ with Mobile Field and Drawing Management. It was a huge win for the entire mobile development team because, only 3 years earlier, were we trying to decide whether to continue developing the product.
Being selected by an ENR Top 100 company was the most satisfying experience because their decision was our validation and proof that the years of hard work paid off.
Where is the best lunch spot?
I often eat at my desk but, if I decide to go out for a bite, I like Sandra’s for their chicken parmigiana sandwich with a homemade cookie. If it’s sunny, then the Earls patio nearby.
What do you listen to on your morning commute?
Podcasts. I enjoy content from Tim Ferriss or Jordan Harbinger. I also listen to a couple of geeky podcasts like Exponent. It’s very applicable to our industry and my work.
I’m obsessed with making my drive productive.
Go-to CMiC office snack?
The Vector cereal. I’ll occasionally go for the oatmeal, but it’s a treat because of the sugar.
What does managing a product at CMiC look like? What skills does it require?
Persistence and patience. The two lessons I’ve learned in the short time I’ve been doing this are:
This stuff takes so much longer than I and others realize.
Communication is key. You need to be able to communicate with Developers, QA, Support, etc., and act as the intermediary between them all.
What is your favourite part of the day?
It’s not a time of day but rather when a developer asks me to test a new feature and it works exactly as we imagined it. Seeing what we want in theory come out in practice on the first try doesn’t happen often…but it’s a great feeling when it does!
Any tips for someone looking to join the CMiC team?
Come in with an open mind. Sometimes people are hired for one job but realize they’re better suited for other roles (like me!). The kinds of people who thrive at CMiC are those who create their own opportunities. The company is open to those who say they “want to try something different.” If your path is bettering the company, you will be supported by those around you.
Now tell me, Steve, clients recognize you from webinars and demos, but what is a fun fact they won’t know about you?
When my girlfriend (now fiancé) moved in with me, I inherited a little white chihuahua named Spencer. Now I’m the owner of a wonderfully annoying 7-pound dog. When I take the dog out every morning at 6 AM for a walk, I try and look as cool as possible while doing it… needless to say, it’s sometimes difficult.