This week on Product Love, a podcast about product, I sat down with Sam Boonin. Sam is the VP of product strategy at Zendesk, which he joined when the company had about 100 employees. Since then, Zendesk has gone public (in 2014) and it now has over 2000 employees globally and serves 119,000 paid customers.
I was recently introduced to Sam after he joined the ProductCraft Debate Club, and we got to chat about a question that he’s passionate about, which is whether a product manager needs a technical background. “If customer empathy is the most important value of a product manager, [and my customers are not technical], then I shouldn’t have to be technical,” Sam says. “You don’t have to be technically fluent to help make the right decisions.” You can also see his response to the same question, which we posed our first debate.
We also chat about technical debt, scaling product teams, and what it means to build a unique product culture at a rapidly-growing organization.