Today we sat down with Allison Cosby, a key member of our Product Management team. Product Managers are an essential part of any company, as they act as the direct line of communication between internal teams, stakeholders, and partners, ensuring everything is cohesively aligned and running smoothly. Allison joined our team with the overall goal of revitalizing communication throughout departments to ensure a seamless process.
Allison graduated from Carnegie Mellon University with a Bachelor of Arts in Professional Writing and Gender Studies. Before joining our team, Allison worked as a user experience designer for four years at Chemistry Agency, a full-service marketing communications agency.
Since joining ShowClix, Allison has helped develop some excellent processes to solidify new project timelines and has become an avid team player in the ShowClix Culture Committee. When she’s not in the office, Allison works as a promoter with gfx, a collective of women and non-binary individuals who stand for representation in the nightlife community!
Tell us about a typical week in the life of a Product Manager at ShowClix.
I’m honestly not sure there is a typical week in my role. Some of my typical job duties include monitoring sprint progress, writing specs, reviewing prototypes and completed work, evaluating market trends and competitor products, gathering and prioritizing feedback from stakeholders, and much more. All of this is part of my job each week at the project level. At the same time, I’m in constant conversation with the rest of the Product Team about how to optimize our process and improve our workflows.
Your role enables you to work closely with colleagues in many different departments. How do you make sure everyone is staying on schedule and properly communicating throughout the entire development process?
We use an application called Jira for project tracking on the development side. This allows everyone on the development and product teams to have real-time insight into what is currently being worked on and other immediate priorities. We have regular standing meetings for each project to stay in sync throughout our sprints and meet with the larger project team (including a stakeholder from the Client Services or Sales teams) at the end of each sprint, so they can give input as the work is happening. To keep the rest of the company up to speed, we send out a weekly product development update with high-level project statuses and host a biweekly, company-wide meeting to review updates to our project roadmaps.
This sounds like a lot, but we really try to give everyone the opportunity to tune in and get the information they need, when they need it. This is critical for the success of our projects and is something we’re always working to improve.
You’ve been at ShowClix for just over a year, and have since become very familiar with the various idiosyncrasies of your role. What aspects of Product Management do you enjoy most?
Day to day, I spend most of my time helping other people accomplish their goals. This is very satisfying in itself, and I especially enjoy the small moments when I can answer a question or direct someone to the information they need. This might be the most Project Manager thing I’ve ever said, but organization and processes are actually fun for me! I know this isn’t true for most people, so if I can remove that hurdle for an engineer or designer and allow them to fully focus on what they love to do, that’s a big win for me.
On a larger scale, I love that I can help define where we take our products and, ultimately, what we can empower our partners to do with them. There are so many factors at play, and trying to fit all the pieces together is a fun and rewarding challenge.
What advice would you give to someone looking to step into the Product/Project Management field?
Don’t be deterred if you don’t have formal Project Management experience. I think people from all fields can be successful in this role; my background, for example, is in user experience design. I would advise someone to ask a lot of questions and just generally be curious about every part of a project or process. As a Product Manager, I interact with every department, and the more I can understand about each, the better.
Tell us more about gfx and about your activity in the local electronic music scene outside of work.
In 2017, a few friends and I started a group called gfx, with the goal of increasing ownership and representation for women and non-binary folks in the nightlife community. We’ve grown a lot over the last couple of years and we now host regular DJ nights and dance parties, as well as a gear and synth workshop series that is co-presented with the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.
A lot of people don’t know this, but the library has a ton of musical gear you can rent and take home to use. We want to make sure anyone who is interested in producing electronic music has access to the equipment and the knowledge to do it, so our workshops are free and open to people with any level of experience. We have visiting and local educators focus on a specific piece of equipment they love, and the library sets up a bunch of other synths for folks to play with. It’s a lot of fun, and this has quickly become my favorite program that we run.