New Jobs for the New Economy: From Business Analyst in Retail to Product Manager in Tech
Arthur Néau never thought of being a Product Manager, but the start-up life and his affinity for technology took him on a self-learning adventure.
When we think of how San Francisco compares to Paris, we think of numerous cultural icons: the Golden Gate Bridge versus the Eiffel Tower, Sourdough bread versus Baguettes, Victorian houses versus Haussmannian buildings, and Patagonia jackets versus high fashion. Most importantly, us in the technology space see a mature tech capital versus the fast-rising startup hub of Europe.
Arthur spends much of his time between the two. Based out of San Francisco, he manages numerous clients on both sides of the world as a Product Manager for NextUser - a marketing automation and personalization startup. Before leading the creation of NextUser's platform, which is technically advanced, he was a Business Analyst for a global videogame company.
How did Arthur go from a traditional industry to something much more innovative and technical? Arthur stopped by our Paris headquarters to talk more about his transition and the forces that drove him to become a Product Manager.
HFA: Hi Arthur, welcome to sunny Paris! (This was a sarcastic remark, it was cloudy, cold, and rainy that day). Thank you for stopping by.
AN: Thank you for having me!
HFA: Can you tell us a little bit about your background and your current position?
AN: I majored in Finance from Bocconi University while completing an internship as a Business Analyst for Electronic Arts. Afterwards, I worked as a Business Analyst for Ubisoft's mobile game division. I then moved to the US and after several conversations, NextUser's CEO Matthieu Dejardins offered me a job as a Business Analyst in San Francisco. After some time, I became Product Manager and most recently, Head of Product.
HFA: What exactly did you do as a Business Analyst? What accomplishment are you most proud of?
AN: As a Business Analyst, my main focus was to analyze the customer funnel from acquisition to retention. This includes checking the level of spendings and monetization within each product. Subsequently, my job was to advise Product Managers on how to improve conversion rates from freemium to premium. As for my accomplishments, I significantly increased the fluidity (which means the amount of friction between the customer funnel journey - i.e., free to pay to add-ons to retention) within the funnel for one of the highest grossing products on the market.
HFA: What are some soft and hard skills you possess that helped you to become a Product Manager?
AN: As for hard skills, I had a strong background in web analytics, A/B testing, KPI analysis, conversion optimization, user retention, and traffic acquisition from my previous experience. With my background and those transferable skills, I was able to learn SQL, SPSS on the job, as well as the Agile Methodology. Same for Balsamiq for wireframing.
As for soft skills, I'd say - a sense of curiosity, good communication skills, and decision making skills.
HFA: Once you knew your skills were transferable, how did you manage to transition from Business Analyst to Product Manager at NextUser?
AN: When you work in a startup, you end up wearing many hats. I started to own more and more tasks that were related to product development, while increasingly building rapport with our engineering team in Europe. I took initiative to handle a lot of conversations with NextUser's customers. As a connection between clients and the technical team, I started to pitch my product vision to Matthieu, who agreed to implement my suggestions into our products and services. Once these helped the company win more customers and keep our current clients happy, I immersed myself in the Digital Marketing industry. My knowledge and efficiency with the engineering team won me the promotion to Product Manager shortly after starting with the company.
HFA: Congratulations! Most people would normally be afraid of transitioning from a role they know very well to a role they do not know so well. What was the hardest part about transitioning from a "known" role into an "unknown" role? What was the most exciting part?
AN: The hardest part was to deal with the technicalities of a SaaS product. For example, when you need to make a decision or change, it will affect the platform performance or features. Therefore, it is important to make the right call. You also have to make decisions based on the product requirements that you have. For example, multiple paths can be taken to get to a solution. Each of these paths has a trade-off between performance and scalability. A good Product Manager needs to make the right call taking into account not only the current product requirements, but also the roadmap and technical challenges lying ahead.
The exciting part is to drive the product, make customers happy and meeting tangible goals as far as size of user base and user feedback.
HFA: What have been some of your biggest accomplishments as a Product Manager?
AN: We (NextUser) experienced 200% growth in the last year. Besides that, our clients were able to grow their user retention three times on average - and grew their e-commerce conversion rate 2.3 times.
HFA: Which city do you prefer? San Francisco or Paris?
AN: San Francisco, because of the sun!
HFA: Of course, but what do you think in regards to business growth potential or the startup scene?
AN: In San Francisco, you have direct access to major players in the industry and everyone has a strong, fascinating affinity for tech products. There are also plenty of opportunities to enable new partnerships and top talent. However, Paris has a growing startup scene and a growing interest for digital marketing, which has been a great opportunity for NextUser to grow in.
HFA: One last question - this one is a little different, but is a question we will be asking most of our interviewees. What does the term "High Flyer" mean to you?
AN: I think a High Flyer is someone who is not complacent, and by this I mean someone who challenges the status quo by who he or she is and his or her actions. It's also someone who is on a quest of constantly improving and evolving, that has a goal to constantly chase.
Follow this and all our stories on our Medium publication, High Flyers.
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