Product Love Podcast: May Habib, CEO and Co-Founder of Qordoba

Published Mar 27, 2019

This week on Product Love, I talked to May Habib, the co-founder and CEO of Qordoba. Words have always been important to May, from her time as a journalist at the Harvard Crimson newspaper to becoming the CEO at Qordoba, a strings platform that makes every application’s words accessible and measurable across platforms, teams, channels, and technologies.

Before she started Qordoba, she was a vice president at one of the world’s largest sovereign wealth funds in Dubai. And before that, she was a banker in New York.

So how did she end up as the CEO of one of the fastest-growing startups in the world? Listen to the podcast to hear her story. Plus, we chat about emotional resonance and the important qualities all product managers should have.

Emotional Resonance

Product managers talk about setting metrics that drive revenue or track growth, but how do we measure emotional resonance? Qordoba has the privilege of being a content AI product, so it’s easier to see the emotional impact on users. As a company, they’re very intentional about the emotional impact their products might have, so much so that they measure it in two ways. The first is through pain avoidance. Did their product provide a permanent solution that would end their customer’s pain? The second way is via improvements in their customers’ relationships with other teams. Did the product make collaboration easier? Their experience with the product obviously has to be delightful, but it’s even better if it has improved workflows with their colleagues.

It’s interesting to see how the team at Qordoba fixates on that as a metric of success. Maybe emotional resonance within a product should be perceived as evidence of whether or not product managers are truly empathetic. How do you prove your empathy to customers? How do you track it?

Competitive Intel, Empathy, and Ruthlessness

Ruthlessness and empathy may be two opposites on the spectrum, but they’re both qualities that May looks for in product managers. They’re also two qualities that complement each other very well.

At Qordoba, they have ten-week roadmaps. If you remove all the meetings and calls, there’s still not a lot of time for real, impactful product-building. That’s why May seeks out ruthlessness in product managers. They need to be able to prioritize their time and execute on all their tasks despite the inevitable distractions. Product managers are at the nexus of flooding customer requests and the endless backlog of what founders want. They must stick to their vision. 

May emphasizes that awareness of what is being built and who it’s being built for is crucial. It might sound obvious, but it’s also something that we often shove to the back of our minds as the quarter rolls by. Product management has always been fast-paced and products can easily take a variety of turns. That’s why it’s absolutely essential to stay focused.

Listen to this week’s episode to learn more about May’s transition to the CEO role. Remember to subscribe and leave a review!