5 Takes on Frequently Asked Product Questions

There is a set of product questions we often discuss internally and with folks outside of HubSpot. A couple of weeks ago, we hosted a panel for Northeastern's Women in CIS to discuss some of the most frequent questions as seen through the lens of different people on the engineering team – from designers and product managers to software developers and tech leads. Below are some of the highlights, but feel free to check out the video for more detail.


1. On the operations of small product teams

A small team has complete ownership of the thing they are building. It gives you a lot of control over how you want to building something, test it – you are responsible for it. It gives you a lot of ownership and pride over what you are building. I like that approach better rather than a team broken up by role. - Laura Martinez, Tech Lead

2. On the day-to-day job of a tech lead

The management role is not a top-down leadership role, it’s more of the servant leader role, a mentoring role. My role as a tech lead is to help my team be successful. So I work very closely with my PM to flush out ideas and talk about priorities at the high level, but the responsibility for building and executing is really on the individual team members and I am just there to help guide them and give them the resources they need. We have regular 1:1 meetings, so it’s a lot about communication, feedback, and mentoring. - Laura Martinez, Tech Lead
The whole idea of servant leadership is that you have to help other people perform and grow. It’s not about you telling other people what to do. I have three constituents – upper management, a team, and the individuals. So I spend a lot of time talking to them, understanding what their needs are, what their priorities are. - Sharon Chang, Director of Engineering

3. On including design early in the development cycle

The Product Manager usually does the heavy work with finding the problem, and goes to the tech lead and designer to discuss the problem, how feasible it is, can we actually solve it, what are some ways to solve this... So we mock it up, we do user testing, we see if it’s a valuable option. Usually we pull in other engineers just to get more ideas out there because everyone has a part in this defined solution. - Amy Guan, Designer

4. On being successful as a newbie engineer

Two things: a really awesome onboarding process and the relationship between you and the tech lead. That person is incredibly helpful and important to get you started, get you acclimated with the code, and help you understand more about the product. Also, being able to ask question is really important. My strategy at HubSpot if I don’t know something has always been, spend a reasonable amount of time trying to figure it out and if I know of someone who is able to unblock me pretty easily, then go down that road. - Rose DeMaio, Software Engineering Co-op

5. On the most challenging thing as a product manager

Conflicting points of view don’t help me make a decision. When somebody from one part of the business is saying, “Who would ever want that?” and another person in the business is saying, “This is absolutely amazing! Keep building more things like this.” They are diametrically opposed. When I first started I took everything really personally. And then you learn that it is not about you and it is actually a really good lesson to learn when you are trying to guide the vision. But now my most frustrating thing is when my decision is being made harder by directly opposing feelings. - Angela DeFranco, Product Manager

What are your thoughts on these questions? 

Magdalena Georgieva

Written by Magdalena Georgieva