I’m 99.9% sure Rose Yao’s work has directly affected your life. If you’ve viewed a photo on Facebook, sent an email with Gmail, or used Google Maps to find your way, you’ve interacted with a product Yao has worked on closely. At the 11th hour, she applied for a scholarship that sent her into the vast world of product management.
We were so lucky to have Rose on our panel discussion at ROADMAP | SF Product Summit in May.
Name: Rose Yao
Current role: Director of Product for Google Maps Platform
Location: San Francisco Bay Area
One word to describe how you PM: Empathy
“As a PM, you’re a leader on the team no matter how old you are and how big your scope is. Your words and actions have cascading impact on the team, so be intentional about them.”
How did you get to where you are today?
I did my bachelor’s in computer engineering and was planning to get a phD. But at the very last minute my senior year, I applied to the Anita Borg scholarship and as a finalist visited Google. I was so excited by the people I met particularly these “APMs” that I ended up interviewing/applying for the role. I was very lucky that PM was the intersections of a lot of things I love: technology, people, and creativity.
In the last 13 years, I’ve focused my career choices on what do I want to learn next and that’s brought me from Google to Facebook to startups and now back to Google to learn how to run a business.
What role do you think data has in product management?
It’s another tool and a powerful one if used correctly. Until fairly recently, good real-time data was not very accessible and product managers made decisions by gut or mostly qualitative data. Now we have real-time analytics as a decision making tool and validation tool. The key is to use it correctly. It cannot be product by numbers, there’s still gut/intuition involved. Data it won’t answer all questions, but it can help a lot with blind spots.
“It cannot be product by numbers, there’s still gut/intuition involved.”
What’s the best thing you’ve read to learn how to be better at your job?
Hmm… I enjoyed The Hard Thing About Hard Things because it’s a book about how to recover from failure vs a glowing review.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received on how to be a PM?
So many… I’ve been lucky to have some great mentors and managers. Probably one I still remind myself of everyday is that as a PM, you’re a leader on the team no matter how old you are and how big your scope is. Your words and actions have cascading impact on the team, so be intentional about them.
When it comes to personal professional growth what are you most focused on right now?
How to be build a great team and help them succeed. I think people are the secret to success and as a manager now hiring the right people for the right roles has become pretty critical.