Experience

I started out as a system engineer working on a large cloud-based VoIP platform. The technical knowledge I gained as a system engineer allowed me to grow into a pre-sales engineer, or solution consultant. As a solution consultant I got used to talking to customers, presenting in front of (large) audiences, and stakeholder management. The combination of my technical experience and soft-skills resulted in an international move from The Netherlands to Munich and my first product management role. I had no idea what product management was, but I learned a lot during those first four years: prioritization, stakeholder management, and working in a large team of highly skilled and motivated software engineers, sales, and marketing professionals meant I could act on the edge of technology and commerce. This is my sweetspot and this is what I love to do! When I moved back to The Netherlands I found a senior product management in which I can grow from a tactical and operational product manager to a strategic product manager.

Melissa Perri’s overview of the typical career path of a product manager.

System management and network architecture

As a system engineer, I was part of a team that was responsible for managing a cloud-based, internally developed, and global cloud infrastructure that processed millions of phone calls per day. I specialised in the maintenance of a virtual environment (+400 virtual machines), the design of a complex network architecture, and low-level network troubleshooting. I learned to use the vast amount of statistical data that was available to find anomalies in the to increase the quality of the service.

The Voipbuster “platform” was handling millions of phone calls every day.

Solution consultant, pre-sales engineering

In this role, I was involved in designing security systems for the largest construction projects in Europe. I specialised in enterprise (video) management software and complex integration, for example, an industry 4.0 solution in a Bosch Warehouse in Brazil.. I learned to build trust with a large variety of internal and external stakeholders and was responsible for the regional customer demonstation system, located in Eindhoven.

One of my side hustles: modelling as a security system operator.

Product Management

I am proud of the products I managed, of the teams I worked with, and really enjoy figuring out customer challenges and finding solutions for those.

Bosch Video Management System

As its product manager I was responsible for the turnover and margin of the Bosch Video Management System (BVMS). BVMS is an on-premise video management system that organisations use in huge and complex video surveillance installations (up to 10.000 cameras), for example, nuclear power plants, military bases, airports, and city surveillance installations. In this role, I worked together with five SCRUM teams, a dedicated user experience team, and five regional marketing managers that covered the globe.

The BVMS key visual when I started.

In these four years I redefined the internal product vision into a user-based product vision and established product-specific performance reporting. We managed to generate a consistent annual growth rate between 2016 and 2019 even though the organisation was not focused on software and the competitive situation was challenging.

The BVMS key visual when I finished.

It took me a while to figure out what being a product manager actually meant. We discovered one of the biggest problems of a security operator during several on-site tests and interview: following a person in a complex premise with a lot of camera, for example an airport, is very difficult! We started working on solving this problem by mapping out the available solutions, including the use of video analytics and face recognition. At the same time the solution needed to be affordable to our customers and we wanted to develop something small fast, so we could iterate on the initial idea after getting feedback. The video below shows the result: unfortunately I wasn’t around any more when the team finished it, but I’m very proud of the result!

BVMS map-based tracking assistant.

AXtension

Together with the product owners I own the roadmap of our products: Invoice Processing, Planning & Control, Content Gate, and Shipping Connect. Within the first six months we defined a portfolio mission statement, derived the first product vision, and defined metrics to measure our progress.

AXtension Invoice Processing