A Day In The Life Of Atlassian's Product Management VP

Schedule: Shutterstock

Audra Eng is software vendor Atlassian’s vice president of product management, with a team of 22 people and management colleagues split between Sydney and San Francisco.

Eng is responsible for finding out what customers want from Atlassian’s products and convincing developers build it.

It’s a fast-paced, agile organisation but she says she always manages to make it home on time.

Here’s what she told Business Insider about her job:

5.30am On an average day I get up really early – probably around 5.30am. I live in Balmain East so I catch the ferry into work.

7.00am I try to get here at 7am. I’ll be sitting here and it’s completely empty.

8.00am Half the management team is here and half is in San Francisco. Mike [Cannon-Brookes], Scott [Farquhar, co-founders and CEOs], the VP of Operations, VP of Engineering and myself are here.

The overlap means that the management team meets sometime between 8-11am every week. We talk about strategy, investments, or we could start a new project or product.

9.00am The product management team typically gets in between 9-10am. I head up a team of 22 people; 8 of those are direct reports, and we have one-on-one [meetings] sprinkled throughout the week.

I talk to my team members about the projects they’re going through and giving them the resources they need to get a project unstuck.

We have standups – usually with a designer and key lead developers, 2-3 lead product managers and a development manager – to talk about the integration of products.

I spend at least half my day in meetings, and keep at least 3-4 hours to do work by myself. In some ways I think the meetings are necessary but I do think we should have fewer meetings; in meetings, I don’t like chatting just to chat.

10.00am The product management team usually works on 1-2 projects ourselves at any one time. I have 6-8 people working on a customer experience redesign project at the moment and we have regular meetings.

So I’m taking my regular day job, shrinking it to 8-10am, and working on this from 10-5pm.

This is pretty common – we always rotate into big projects. We’re pretty agile and everyone thrives on the adrenaline of having so many projects around and getting it done.

12.00pm I do get out of the office at least 1 hour of the day – or at least 30 minutes – for lunch. Lunch is pretty casual. We usually go in groups of 2-3, or 4 people.

The kitchen is stocked with sandwich ingredients, candy, fruit and ice cream on a weekly basis.

I usually go out to eat so I can have a salad.

1.00pm Sometimes, we’d go to customer sites and see how they use our service. If we cant go on site, we’d have Skype interviews with them and after that, you’d have to write up the reports.

Usually, I’m doing Skype interviews – you’d have to spend half a day if you go on-site. I usually have 30 minute one-on-ones sprinkled throughout the day.

We’re also hiring 7 product managers this quarter and 15 designers so I sit in on Skype interviews and face-to-face interviews for hiring as well.

5.00pm Everyday at 5pm, people are hanging out, talking and chatting [in the communal dining room]. Most of it is about work [but] it’s pretty relaxed. What’s nice about it is there’s a pretty good work-life balance. We’ve got a Wii in the corner, board games, a ping pong table and pool.

On Fridays, we usually have some sort of event on. We’d rent video games and have 4 kegs of different beers out. Every quarter, we have a 24-hour innovation day called ShipIt, and a customer comes in and votes on which project should win the prize.

5.30pm I try to go home all the time at 5.30pm. I have a pilates class on Mondays and Wednesday evenings and I try to go home and spend time with my husband.

When I go home I try to turn off and not work. When I was younger, I used to work all the time – I would work from home and travel a lot, doing 16-17 hour days, and I realised, you know what, I’m really not being that efficient working that much more.

I was probably getting through more emails but working is actually progressing a product that has a goal and getting that out to the market

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