Interviews / Product Managers

Balancing the Grind with Amanda Ramos, Associate Product Manager at Inspace

Amanda Ramos is an Associate Product Manager at Inspace, an inventor and provider of property visualisation technology and services.

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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?

I’ve always been keen to help people solve problems. This has led me down a few interesting career paths – I worked in event management during university and then graduated into an experience design agency.

My first interaction with tech was accidental – one of the clients of the agency was a tech company, a well-known fintech. I found working with tech a very purpose driven exercise and was immediately hooked. 

I left the agency to pursue an opportunity with a proptech team and worked in the commercial side of the business – it was a good way to get a flavour for how to grow and develop an early-stage tech company. 

Everything changed when I got an offer from Safety Culture to join their well-regarded Customer Success team. I got an education in how the best products in Australia are built and the typical requests from enterprise customers.

Leveraging that experience, I have moved to Inspace to work on product, where I bring a strong expertise in relationship management, strategy and design thinking.

2) What does a day in your life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?

Product management in a fast-growing scale-up is, by its nature, eclectic and diverse. In product, my role can be broken down into truly understanding the most irritating problem that my customers face and then trying to piece together something elegant to solve it – as such a typical day is often atypical.

A typical day in product:

5.30 – 6.30 Yoga – Important for waking up and feeling fresh.

7.00 – 8.00 – I read about the sector. Most innovation that comes from a tech company is generated off the back of understanding what other operators are doing. I take inspiration from trends in Silicon Valley, reading AFR, I have a few podcasts I love (more on that later)… A key part of being a strong operator (whatever role in tech) is that you know and understand where your company sits in the ecosystem.

8.00 – 9.30 – I typically start reviewing my notes around this time to prepare myself for upcoming meetings with stakeholders (usually details from an engineering lead or a customer). Being detail oriented is a must in product management. Detail = credibility.

There is usually no time in the working day to review your notes or to expand on your thinking, so I prefer a bit of time in the morning before people are trying to take your time with meetings to ensure that I know what’s going on and consider my role in it.

9.30 – 10.00 – Everyday standup with the engineers and designers. This is the most important half an hour of my day. I love my team. Any good product manager will say that their role is to enable the engineers and designers to produce effective outputs for customers. So, it is really important to understand what I can do to make my team happy and effective. 

10.00 – Rest of the working day (~6.00pm) – Every day could look different but I am generally in meetings for the rest of the day with various different teams, from Sales to 3D Artists and importantly our customers.

No matter what is happening I always make time and try to get in front of customers to understand first hand what they love and don’t love. And subsequently, dig into why (!) and how (!!) they are using our products.

3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?

Remote and flexible working standards are a must now that the Covid genie is out of the bottle – Inspace recently introduced a value called “Love Yourself”. I strongly believe that life is for living – so remote and flexible working mesh well with me.

I can get more done during the day (I have a rabbit that requires more care than some children); I can wear what I want; and, I can be productive to my own timeline. This is all incredibly important to me.

I remember working in an agency model – the face-to-face hours are crazy. The business model is determined not on output alone but on core billable hours attributable to a project. I definitely do not work like that any more.

If someone in my team can build an output to my deadline but it takes them half the time to do so or they build it at hours that are more suitable to them – more power to them. I’m just happy to receive the project outputs to scope and on time. 

Flexible working recognises something that has been historically hard for startups and corporate alike – people have lives that are meant to be lived and should be treated to produce work to a high standard on an autonomous basis.

4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?

Work-life balance means that I am not sacrificing my health to grow my wealth… 

All jokes aside, having work-life balance ensures that burnout is less likely for talent, and startups need to keep all the talent they can find. I lead by example, I prioritise the things that I find important to me outside of work – my family, my rabbit, my Masters Degree in Design, and exercise. And I refuse to be in a position that would require me to compromise taking part and enjoying those things as they are essential to my soul.

Work is also deeply important to me – I am purpose driven in my work and would not choose to work in a soulless environment. 

So, like everyone else, I find a balance – if there are several days of high stress decision-making – I’ll reward myself with several days of doing what I love. In doing so, I hope that I foster that view in my colleagues too and we can all live harmoniously and be mentally well.

5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?

Let’s start with what I’ve stopped: I got rid of my Stan subscription as it made me far more unproductive than I was willing to accept. 

I’ve replaced Stan with: walking more often; my studies; I go catch the sunset at the beach most days (thank you daylight savings); and, I go to interesting design exhibitions when they come to Sydney.

6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?

As a product manager, Înspired by Marty Cagan and Inside Intercom Podcast are classics. On the flip side, Billion Dollar Whale and Bad Blood have been a major source of timely entertainment. Key message is: if something appears too good to be true, it just might be. 

7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?

I rate the physio-gun – give it a go and get hooked. From a design perspective: I love Up Bank’s app. It makes my personal finance more intuitive and gives me a better sense of control.

8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?  

Let it be known I’m actually a massive fan of Reinventure’s Simon Cant from a distance (hello). Given that he has worn so many hats over the last decade, while still leading a very interesting venture fund – I’d be keen to hear how he does it.

9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

Celebrate milestones – I regret not doing that more. Even if it doesn’t seem huge once you’ve achieved something – make a big deal out of it.

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About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.