A Day In The Life

Frank

Product Manager

"I think about the servers, managers, expediters, cooks, and hosts that depend on the features we build on a day-to-day basis. People who work in hospitality/restaurant industry are thrown into situations that can be challenging, fast-paced, and often times very stressful. It's critical that the entire team (designers, developers, quality assurance, training and implementation) understands the unique and complex situations our users can find themselves in. Establishing and reinforcing that understanding and customer empathy throughout the product development process helps our team build amazing solutions that enable restaurant staff to provide excellent service to their customers, no matter how complex the situations are!"


How do you think about how new features are prototyped, tested, and eventually rolled out?

I think about the servers, managers, expediters, cooks, and hosts that depend on the features we build on a day-to-day basis. People who work in hospitality/restaurant industry are thrown into situations that can be challenging, fast-paced, and often times very stressful. It's critical that the entire team (designers, developers, quality assurance, training and implementation) understands the unique and complex situations our users can find themselves in. Establishing and reinforcing that understanding and customer empathy throughout the product development process helps our team build amazing solutions that enable restaurant staff to provide excellent service to their customers, no matter how complex the situations are!

What have you done to have a deep understanding of your customer?

While I was a Junior at Tufts University, I participated in my first "Restaurant Week" in Boston. We went to 7 restaurants in 7 days, and I was blown away by the different types of restaurant concepts in the city. Of course the type of cuisine was different at each restaurant, but it was also interesting to see different types of hospitality, unique ambiances, and guest experiences each restaurant created. I fell in love with restaurants after that week, and have continued to learn about the art of hospitality through different mediums. Books like 'Setting the Table' by Danny Meyer sit on my night stand and I following shows like 'A Chef's Life' (PBS) or 'Top Chef' (Bravo) almost religiously. Now at Toast, I get to walk-in to some of the best restaurants in Boston, not only enjoying the food, but also engaging in enlightening conversations with servers/managers about how Toast and technology can have impact to their livelihoods.

What do you do on a day-to-day basis?

I review feature requirements with one of the brightest development teams in Boston. I talk through use cases with designers who have years of experience in the restaurant industry. I analyze complex edge cases with our best-in-class Support team. I (try to) manage the influx of requests coming in from the Sales team who is hungry to win. And during the in-betweens, I work with the rest of our Product Management team and we process the qualitative data we've collected and analyze the quantitative data to put together a roadmap plan that we can review and revise with the Executive team. It's great.

What's the hardest challenge you've had thus far in your job?

We have so many sources of data to look to for decision making, and the pools of data are only getting larger and larger as our company grows. One of the biggest challenges has been to look at the Product Management processes we have in place, and understand how to optimize these processes to ensure the data that flows into the team is aggregated in a way that allows the Product Management team make good, informed decisions quickly.

What excites you about your company?

Growth, growth, and growth. As Eric Schmidt (Google CEO) told Sheryl Sandberg when she was interviewing at Google in 2001, "If you’re offered a seat on a rocket ship, you don’t ask what seat. You just get on." We're on a rocketship!

What is your background and how did you end up in your current job?

I was lucky enough to join a high-growth startup in Boston right out of school (Tufts University) and was there for several years. It was at my first job where I learned about how to work with both purpose and speed. Since then, I have worked at several tech companies in Boston, including building a team from scratch in 2013.

What are some of the interview questions you were asked?

I was asked about how I think about prioritization of a large and complex roadmap and how one works with both the design and development teams to execute on a feature. Scaling Product Management processes was also a major topic of discussion.

What opportunities do you think this role prepares you for in the future?

The connections and team members I've met at this company have been great. I hope I'll continue to work with many of these faces in the Boston Tech scene, no matter where I end up.

How did you prepare for the interview for this role?

The Product Management function is extremely different at every company that I've worked for. As much as I wanted to be prepared for the role, I wanted to ensure that my experience fit what Toast was looking for. Luckily, it was a match!

What unique skills have you developed over time in your role and at this company?

There are so many types of restaurants. From 'Fast Food' to 'Fine Dining', the requests and needs of each segment of the market is wildly different! I can walk into just about any restaurant now, do a quick survey on how they operate, and quickly identify the workflows to improve on and equipment a restaurant needs to be successful.

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