5 Questions with Vera Ruel-Wunsch

1. What is your role at AudienceView?

I’m the Director of Product Management for the OvationTix software platform, responsible for driving product innovation and development. I coordinate with every team — from client services to marketing — to understand OvationTix’s strategic vision, then lead our design, engineering and product teams to execute on that vision. Ultimately, I want to make sure we’re always exceeding client and patron expectations.

To do that, I have to understand what success means for OvationTix and our clients, which metrics drive success and what data will inform our approach. Sometimes that means talking to clients, sometimes it means analyzing hundreds of data points and sometimes it means sitting next to our engineers to make sure every detail is specified and understood.

2. How did you begin your career in Product Management?

In the mid-2000s, I was in a product marketing and business development role for an Australian medical start-up expanding into the U.S. market. I coordinated web development, worked with designers, constantly triaged client and user feedback to inform our product development, put together investor pitch decks, worked closely with the board and executives and built a cross-functional team. Product management wasn’t well known at the time, but a lot of these responsibilities would now traditionally fall under that umbrella.

I learned about product managers when interviewing engineers and thought leaders for my Master’s in Corporate Communication thesis on software engineering culture. Many software engineers told me that product management was the hardest part of their job. They gave me their opinions on what makes a good product manager, then I quickly found the best program teaching product management at General Assembly and went full throttle.

3. How does your background in crisis communication help you in your current role?

In both crisis communication and product management, trust is the make-it-or-break variable. The digital world is one of the of the biggest, if not the biggest area where trust is built or destroyed. To do crisis communication, you really have to understand how communities build and share information online and how to measure your success. You’re coordinating across multiple departments and external agencies to align on strategy, the response and to get ahead of any issues.

A key part of crisis communication is to ensure that if anyone asks someone on the team about the crisis, they all have the same answer. It’s the same in product management, so a huge part of my job is alignment — making sure that everyone on the team knows why we’re doing something.

Crisis communication, like product management, is also about being transparent and honest with your executives, with your team, and messaging the why in ways that resonate.

4. How would you describe your leadership style?

Anyone who works on my team is guaranteed an environment where they can grow, feel safe making mistakes, be pushed and supported to get out of their comfort zone and be recognized. Servant leadership is super important to me. When a team feels good about the problems they’re solving for their users and their contribution to real business impact, it makes the development process more rewarding, faster, and better architected because they genuinely care about the user experience.

5. Outside of work, what are you most passionate about?

I am a passionate advocate for women entrepreneurs and for supporting people from underrepresented backgrounds working in technology. Museums and travel are like religious experiences to me. They give me inspiration to think about design and problem solving differently. I also love to dance and I’m a huge fan of world music. I’m having a Soca music moment right now! If you ever want to talk about Salsa, Soukous or Samba, I’m your girl.

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