Your name: Azalia Shamsaei
Your title: Product Manager, Platform
How long have you been at Kinaxis? 3 years
Tell us about your career journey: How did you end up working as a product manager?
My career journey has been quite the adventure, transforming me from a developer into the passionate product manager I am today. After some exciting years in development and pursuing a PhD, I found myself fully engaged in implementing software at Ottawa Hospital. This experience opened my eyes to the joys of working closely with stakeholders, gathering their needs, and seeing a project through its entire lifecycle. As graduation neared, it hit me that the parts I truly loved were the ones closely tied to product management. That “aha!” moment led me to IBM, where I could continue guiding products through every stage of their journey. This shift from coding to product management has let me blend my tech know-how with my love for collaborating with others at Kinaxis.
What attracted you to work at Kinaxis? How did you know it would be a good fit?
Kinaxis captivated my interest for several reasons. It is recognized as one of Canada’s top employers and its highly regarded culture resonated with me. Moreover, the company’s focus on addressing global supply chain challenges, particularly in the post-pandemic era, aligns perfectly with my passion for making a meaningful impact. The opportunity to contribute to these critical issues and our commitment to fostering an inclusive and collaborative workplace solidified my belief that this is the perfect place for me to grow and excel.
What are you responsible for as a product manager at Kinaxis?
My primary focus lies in comprehending customer and market challenges, which I then translate into detailed requirements for our research and development (R&D) team. Through close collaboration with both R&D and UX, I help shape innovative solutions that address these challenges effectively. I also work closely with the marketing and sales teams to ensure that these solutions are effectively communicated to our customers. I provide our professional services teams and partners with support and insights needed to ensure successful implementation. This comprehensive role allows me to drive product success from conception to delivery.
What does a normal day in your job look like?
My day starts with an active morning routine, such as running or cycling, thanks to our supportive work-life balance culture. Afterwards, I dive into tasks, like shaping requirements for R&D based on customer feedback. Collaborating closely with R&D and UX, I contribute to crafting solutions aligned with customer needs. I connect with colleagues during coffee breaks and lunch in the cafeteria. After lunch, my time is often dedicated to collaborating with different teams and addressing challenges that arise during the day.
Overall, my day is a blend of strategic thinking, teamwork, and problem-solving, combined with social interaction with colleagues. This approach allows me to contribute to product success and relish the camaraderie Kinaxis encourages.
Please describe the product development process at Kinaxis.
Our product development process adheres to Agile principles, particularly leveraging the Scrum framework. Deciding what to build is a collaborative endeavor, incorporating insights from strategy, customer success, R&D, and our global partners. During Scrum planning sessions, we define sprint scopes and prioritize tasks to ensure team alignment. Our Agile approach emphasizes adaptability, with well-structured sprints balancing consistent progress and responsiveness to shifting market dynamics. Collaboratively, we identify priorities and features, with the ultimate decision resting with the product management team. To enhance our process, we conduct retrospectives after each release, which encourage reflection on successes and areas for improvement, further refining our development practices.
How is the product team structured?
The product team at Kinaxis operates collaboratively, fostering cross-functional teamwork. My role involves working closely with stakeholders like the UX team, Scrum masters, and other product managers for seamless coordination within the development process.
What other stakeholders, teams, or types of people do you interact with on a regular basis?
My role involves continuous collaboration with a diverse array of stakeholders. I work closely with business analysts, Scrum masters, and other product managers to ensure smooth development coordination. Beyond the product team, I interact with the UX and R&D teams regularly to shape innovative solutions. I also engage with marketing for effective product communication and sales for insights to drive promotion. To ensure successful implementation, collaboration extends to professional services, delivery teams, and partners. I also interface with our customer success teams, senior leadership, and our global partners to align products with strategic goals and market needs.
What skills are essential to succeeding as a product manager at Kinaxis?
Succeeding as a Kinaxis product manager requires a versatile skill set. Strategic thinking supports decision-making, while effective communication bridges teams and stakeholders—problem-solving and adaptability to handle challenges and changing markets. Creativity drives innovative solutions, and attention to detail keeps projects on course. Empathy and interpersonal skills fuel collaboration while staying current and open to learning ensures our product managers navigate evolving landscapes effectively.
What are you working on right now that excites or inspires you?
Currently, I’m focused on streamlining the experience for developers who leverage RapidResponse to craft solutions for various stakeholders in supply chain management. The prospect of simplifying this process and enhancing the user journey is incredibly inspiring. It’s fulfilling to know that this work has the potential to make a tangible impact on how developers interact with our product, which ultimately benefits stakeholders across the supply chain.
What do you value most about Kinaxis’ company culture?
I truly value the spirit of togetherness and inclusion at Kinaxis. It’s amazing how the friendly and open atmosphere encourages everyone to work as a team. We’re not just colleagues; we’re a bunch of diverse minds coming together to innovate. The culture also promotes continuous learning and growth, which inspires me. Kinaxis believes “People matter here.” As a result, we have a great work-life balance.
What advice do you have for product managers applying to jobs at Kinaxis?
First, emphasize your collaborative skills. Our culture thrives on teamwork, so showcasing your ability to work effectively with cross-functional teams is a big plus. Second, highlight your communication skills. As a product manager, you’ll interact with a range of stakeholders, so conveying ideas clearly and concisely is crucial. Third, share how you’ve managed complex projects. Our products are innovative solutions, and you’ll want to demonstrate your experience in guiding projects from conception to fruition. Lastly, show your passion for problem-solving and creativity. Our work involves addressing real-world challenges with inventive solutions, so having a knack for thinking outside the box is a great asset.
This article was originally published on TheMuse.com.
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