As we celebrate the release of our new reporting engine, we thought we’d introduce you to Chris Bruner, Director of Product Management, who was instrumental in making our new reporting tool, a reality. He is also active in the Reporting User Group and also reviews all of your great Reporting ideas.
1. How do you explain your job at Zuora to other people?
A product manager’s job is to figure out what your customers need. So your first responsibility is to make sure you’re working on the right problem and are doing it in a well-researched, data driven way.
2. What was the career path that led you to Zuora?
I started out in product management at Expedia where I got to work with a good group of people. I found that I liked the field a lot and it’s an arena where you take a need that someone has and then you focus really hard on solving it in the best, most elegant way that you can. When you do it right, you get to scale that solution to lots of people who get to take advantage and use the product you’ve developed. It’s really satisfying and the impact is very meaningful.
3. What do you love about your job here at Zuora?
My favorite moment was when we’ve taken something all the way through the development cycle, gave it to our customers for the very first time and watched how it impacts them. All the stages after that are also very enjoyable - the vision, getting feedback, iterating - but that moment when you first give them something that really works and they use it...it changes something that changes their day and the value that they get from the product. I love seeing that!
4. What is your average day like at Zuora?
My day changes day to day depending on what stage of a project that we’re working on; that’s the biggest variable. Early on, we’re focused on what it is that we need to solve, so we’re thinking out loud how to do research with customers and get feedback on what we’re helping them with (the vision).
Later on, we’re working on different designs so we’re collaborating with the design team to mockup different solutions, how to test it with people, and how to get early feedback.
Once that’s finished, we’re in the development stage where we’re doing lots of intensive collaboration with the engineering team to figure out the different corners of the different solutions and make sure things are working the way they need to. We’re also working with the QA team to think of all the ways customers are using things by testing different angles thoroughly. The field organization might also get involved to help organize broader internal testing on new capabilities and get lots of eyes and exposure on the solution.
The last step is limited availability which is where we’re working with customers to make sure they are on-board and are sending us feedback on the specific things that have been built.
One of the most exciting things that’s happening within the product team is that we’re creating a more integrated analytics product suite which is tying things together under the umbrella of a single unified insights solution.
5. How is Zuora’s Product Team different than other teams you’ve worked with?
My past exposure to product was at B2C company and at Zuora, in an enterprise context, where we focus on different things. For example, the data structures we use at Zuora are really important so we have lots of conversations with engineering to figure out the right data structure for customers.
On the other hand in a B2C world, you’re focused on more the design - what it looks and feels like to people. What’s core to us is that we think about the extensibility of the solution and how we’re building something that might be flexible in the future.
Learn more about Chris in our Zuora Q&A:
When you were younger, what did you want to be when you grew up?
- I really wanted to be a writer because I really liked reading and writing fiction. Growing up, I read Herman Hesse’s “Siddhartha”, Asimov, Tolkien, etc. I went back and forth between actual real people and the fantasy, sci-fi genre...I thought about both at different times.
What's your favorite thing about working at Zuora? Do you have a favorite Zuora memory?
- I did like the Halloween project one year. The product managers haven’t done well in Zuora’s costume contest in the past, so we wanted to make something really good this particular year. We got a whole bunch of boxes and covered it in wrapping paper and duct tape and then constructed a complete set of Tetris shapes. Then we basically played a live game of Tetris while the music was playing!
How do you spend your time outside of Zuora?
- My wife and I started pottery so I enjoy making oddly shaped bowls for our kitchen.
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