What Does A Yelp Associate Product Manager Do? Fred Wang Shares All
- Jul 20, 2017
Fred Wang has already done a lot. He graduated from U Penn’s Wharton School with degrees in Finance and Operations Management and then headed to New York City to co-found a startup. No big deal. Finding himself at a crossroads a few years later, he decided to try his luck on the west coast and joined Yelp’s new (at the time) Associate Product Manager (APM) program. Since his two-year anniversary at Yelp Eat24 is right around the corner, we decided to ask him a few questions about his experiences. Here’s what he had to say.
Q: As a recent grad, early in your career, why did Yelp catch your eye?
A: I still wanted to tap my experiences and interest at the intersection of business, design, and engineering and directly shape a product’s roadmap. Yelp’s APM Program was just entering its second year when I applied. The recruiting team was extremely responsive and moved quickly… Within two to three weeks of applying I had a job offer, and speaking to PMs and APMs currently at Yelp confirmed I could grow and learn a ton about scaling teams and businesses.
Q: Describe your job in three words.
A: Getting things done.
Q: What has been your greatest triumph at Yelp?
A: Getting visibility into how the product is working at the individual order level through post-order feedback and implementing changes to the product to get more feedback. We’ve done a whole lot of iterations on that. We have a graph of the percent of orders we have with feedback and each improvement we’ve done has seen a jump in that percent. The idea is that this feedback will be useful to identify areas for product improvement and provide actionable insights for restaurant owners.
Q: Without revealing any secrets, what are you working on right now?
A: A slew of projects that aim to provide a better experience for Yelp Eat24 users.
Q: It sounds like you’ve accomplished a lot so far. What’s your dream project at Yelp/Eat24?
A: My dream project is making Eat24 more useful around lunchtime. This includes bringing online more restaurant choices but also giving office workers access to a “corporate” lunch product.
Q: Wait, are you saying that the entire Eat24 staff could order 800 burritos at lunch?
A: Not just people in our offices, but every office in major US metro areas. Burritos, sushi rolls, burgers, slices of pizza, cheesesteaks — you name it. It’s a ways off, but definitely on our radar.
Q: What is one of your most memorable moments at Yelp?
A: I really like our quarterly hackathons. One hackathon we built Eat24 for Apple TV. After two long days and some late-night coding, we pulled together a demo and got it to place a real order. We really re-envisioned the product from end to end and got designers, PMs, and engineers together to solve problems from the ground up.
Q: You ditched New York for laid-back California. What’s one of the biggest differences between SF and NYC?
A: People tend to care a lot more about work/life balance here… In NYC people didn’t really have hobbies outside of work and the social life was centered pretty heavily around going out and drinking. In SF it’s much more normal to have a boardgames night or organize a hike for the weekend. People also are very passionate about solving problems through technology.
Q: Sounds like you’ve had some time to take on new hobbies. What does your ideal weekend look like?
A: Grabbing dim sum with friends in the morning, working on hobbies or projects after, jogging along the embarcadero, strength training, and then swinging by a friend’s house to hang out in the evening.
Q: Besides dim sum — I’m obsessed with it too btw — what’s your favorite local business in SF?
A: That’s a tough one. One of the places I frequent a lot is Gott’s Roadside at the Ferry Building. Sometimes I’ll grab a late night bite after running along the Embarcadero because they’re open late. I’ve also gone on weekend mornings, sitting outside to enjoy the SF skyline while listening to live music from the street musicians around there.
Q: Thanks so much for your time, Fred! Any last words of advice for recent grads or those looking to make a transition to Product Management?
A: Be passionate about the product you’re looking to work on. Think about where the product can be in the 3-6 month range, and also the 2-5 year range. Ideas in the 3-6 month range are incremental improvements that compound over time and are impactful to the business. Thinking in the 2-5 year range is a strategic investment that keeps your business competitive.
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