At Fyber we are firm believers in the statement “People make the company …”
Indeed, people are the decisive factor in every company’s success — and we’re quite lucky to have some amazing people as part of the Fyber Nation. We’re all unique, with different talents, languages and more than 45 countries we call home (and counting).
So in the spirit of celebrating our diversity and dedication, we kick off Fyber Faces, a blog series to highlight members of the Fyber Nation that embody the company’s core values both on and off the job. First up is Alberto Barcelos, our Sr. Product Manager, who comes from Goiania (the sunny capital of Goias, Brazil).
Read on to learn why Alberto traded in a career in software engineering for product management — and why he traded Brazilian feijoada for Bratwurst (in Berlin).
Q: I think the first question would be WHY but WHY did you leave sunny Brazil to brave the Berlin winds that make you shiver to the bone?
Alberto: The main factor for my move was gaining international experience. I come from a computer engineering background and worked in Brazil for 7 years before I decided to look for work abroad.
Q: Weather aside — what are the main differences you’ve experienced in the working cultures of Germany and Brazil?
I think that punctuality is paramount in the German working environment. If the meeting is set at 3pm, it happens at 3pm. Timing and organization are two things Germans excel at, and it greatly helps to optimize your working time. In contrast, arriving 5-10 minutes late for a meeting is totally acceptable in Brazil.
People are also quite direct in Germany; very honest and take their work seriously – ownership and accountability are key.
In Brazil the working environment is more relaxed. But this doesn’t mean that Brazilians care less about their projects — it’s just a different approach to the work process.
Q: As a kid, what did you want to be “when you grew up?”
A physician. Six months before going to University I realized that wasn’t for me. The next best thing for me was computer engineering, which I barely scratched professionally before moving into product management.
Q: What drove your switch from coding and computer science to product management?
I think I was always interested in the complexity of product development, and wanted to be involved in the design process from the onset. First, I became an operations & product manager and was responsible for product operation tools, processes and commercialization preparations for successful product launches.
I built my own software development consulting business because I wanted to know more about product development and business in general — from long and short term plans to how we are going to sell it, and the go-to-market strategy.
I want to know everything about a product! That is true “product management,” and what pulled me to this field of work.
I still code during Fyber’s Freaky Fridays though, because I like to code and miss it sometimes.
Q: Is moving from engineering to product management a common career path?
It really depends on the company. For example, in many companies product management is firmly rooted within the marketing and other business areas. While in other companies, it’s necessary to have a tech background so you can “speak the same language” as the engineers of course, but if the company doesn’t have the luxury of both business- and technical-facing product managers, the more successful product manager will likely have a business background in this case. In that case, it might be harder for an engineer with no business focus to make the leap.
I think the ideal product manager ultimately has a tech and business background — but like unicorns, those are rare.
Q: What are the top challenges that come with being a product manager?
Dealing with numerous stakeholders with different backgrounds and motivation structures.
Engineers want to build a nice product from a tech standpoint: they consider architecture, UX and scalability. Marketing wants the right content — for example, how can we talk about this product, how can we create a good go-to-market strategy and tell a compelling story. Business teams care about selling.
The product manager has to work with all these teams, and the real challenge is to balance all the visions while creating a product that makes sense for the customers in the long term.
Q: Can you share the Fyber project that you’ve been most proud to work on?
I had the chance to grow the mediation product into a global leader in cooperation with other teams. However, the release of Fyber Open Mediation makes me proudest, as it positioned mediation for the long term win against our competitors, and opened up many possibilities. We built that with very tight resource constraints, and with an immense amount of collaboration from different areas that hadn’t experienced before.
Q: So who or what inspires you?
There’s no one person or thing that inspires me. I’m more interested in unexpected people making inspiring choices. That’s when it really kicks in for me — we’re the output of our choices, big and small, day and night.
Q: Last question. Outside of work (and juggling disparate perspectives on product development) what are your passions?
Hardly anything grabs my attention long enough for me to call it a passion! One month I might spend an insane amount of time learning about nutrition, another about how to automate a house, and then the next learning about mindfulness. I enjoy not having a huge commitment towards a singular personal goal for too long.