Welcome to the Milk Moovement herd Miles! Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Born and raised in Los Angeles, kept trying to move to Colorado didn't but it didn't stick. I’ve been in tech for about 10 years before that was automotive. I majored in speech writing back in university but I didn't do anything with that. Most of my tech career has been spent focused on logistics-oriented systems. So warehouse management, real-time dispatching, dynamic pricing, on-demand, last mile, routing, that kind of thing. Milk Moovement kind of felt like a good fit.
For the last four years, I’ve been pretty focused on building and grooming up small squads, pods, and teams of product managers. I’ve helped them be more data-driven, avoid some common stakeholder pitfalls, and just generally feel like a player-coach role within product organizations. Then for the last year was very focused on ground-up building a product or a small startup called Remo. Unfortunately, Remo had a very boom-bust cycle with the pandemic, and the timing of that lined up well with Milk Moovement being on the rise. Not a sad ending!
What is a Director of Product? What do you do?
That's a great question. First and foremost, for people who haven't been in a lot of usually SaaS companies, or even tech companies in general, the product management department is at this weird intersection of being the place of the company that has the most context, ideally, to help drive solutions at the right time. Two big takeaways there. One, be the voice that ensures that we build only the most important things at the most impactful times, and tell developers what to build, when, and why. In reality, there are downstream needs that you need to be the voice of the customer, you've got to balance the customer and business needs.
I find that the product department does two things well. One, saying no to things. Going back to building the most important things, the most impactful times, you've unfortunately got to say no to a lot of really cool or good stuff. It sounds easy, but it's one of the hardest parts of the job. It’s really hard to say no to people who are excited about their idea. Most of the time their idea is really cool, but you can't do it all. That's one of the biggest dangers to any tech company trying to do it all.
The other thing is becoming a domain expert on a given part of the business to help further that ability to make context-driven decisions. When you think about bugs or features that customers want or things that help drive revenue for the company, ultimately, there's got to be a central nexus that helps make those decisions on which ones we’re doing, and which ones we’re not.
The way you build a team around that is usually ruthless prioritization. Does the customer actually need this? How much money do we get on this thing versus how long it will take to build? You have to have people who are used to having those conversations all the time. After they have those conversations, take that thing, get everyone else aligned around it and then drive it to completion and track whether or not it did what you wanted to do. Unfortunately, there are a lot of roles within product that are not well-defined.
My job is to build up the product organization. Figure out what product managers need to go to which verticals and get those people hired, but then also act as kind of a player coach. I'm as much here to hire product managers as I am to uplevel them. I'm their advocate for the business.
On the other side of that with the executive team. I'm the voice of the product to the executive team. It's important to have a voice that is constantly asking those questions in all these executive team meetings. Long term you need someone sitting with the executive team who's got a somewhat clearer picture of what everyone else in the company is working on. Having the product work filter up to me, gives me that visibility.
Can you break that down into one or two sentences?
I like to think of myself as here to mostly say no to things that we can't do right now. So maybe chief bad guy is my title.
What attracted you to dairy and Milk Moovement?
I absolutely love cheese, it's a terrible addiction. Getting closer to that felt like a good idea. Maybe not a good idea long-term for my health, but excited to be getting closer to cheese and how it's made and ensuring that it's made.
I was looking for the right fit at a logistics-facing startup. I'd be lying if I said that I woke up one day and was like, ‘I got to work in dairy.’ I found Milk Moovement and knew I was looking for a young logistics-facing company because those are the kind of problems I'm used to solving and like solving. I saw a company who had taken a company that had taken a large amount of market share in a very short time and that caught my attention. The amount of market share that Milk Moovement was able to take in the U.S. in under two years was very impressive.
What are some challenges that Milk Moovement is facing?
Milk Moovement needs to get to its second phase of growth. Right now, Milk Moovement’s really focused on vertically integrating and providing data transparency across all facets of the milk journey. That's phase one, phase two from Milk Moovement is really starting to find places to optimize and help improve business outcomes for our customers. That's where we really reach peak growth and also peak value for our customers.
What are your short-term goals for Milk Moovement?
My short-term goals are to finish building the product department. A lot is going on, there are a lot of moving pieces. Most of my short-term goals are around making sure that we slot the right pieces into the right problems. That means getting the right product manager with the right experience, starting to build our business intelligence team, and making sure we expand our design resources.
All of those things help us move faster at scale. I think one of the hardest things about my job is you've got to be ruthless in delegating. If you don't delegate, you're not going to be able to get enough done.
Long-term growth goals lay the foundation for combining all of our data into central sources, pulling it up into ROI equations that offer insight to our customers around where they can optimize, and how much those optimizations are saving them.
What’s your favorite dairy product?
Probably Greek yogurt. I don't know, cheese. I love cheese. Feel like everyone's answer is cheese. Put mine down as Greek yogurt, let's be different.