Role: Product Manager
Company: Rent the Runway
Background: Kiki is a skilled product manager with a passion for building delightful user experiences. After studying symbolic systems (computer science, psychology, linguistics, and philosophy) at Stanford and starting her career at Microsoft, she is bringing her user-centered product philosophy to scale local experiences of Rent the Runway When she’s not launching new store experiences, you can find her baking cookies, climbing aerial silks, or exploring all that NYC has to offer.
What product(s) are you responsible for? What makes your product special? Why do you love working on these problems?
I’m responsible for the customer’s physical touchpoints of Rent the Runway, which currently include five retail stores and 40+ drop-off locations. My product area is special because it is the physical manifestation of the “closet in the cloud.” Customers can drop off their previous rentals and pick out a new outfit from the store every day with an Unlimited membership. It unlocks so many possibilities, and customers make these trips to the store or drop-off locations a habit. You can’t get closer to the customer than bringing the clothes they wear every day.
I love this space. I come from a traditional software background, but now I have this new challenge of thinking about physical constraints like how much storage space do we have, how can we guarantee security, how will locations be staffed, etc. It’s an entirely different mindset. This forces me to be more creative when coming up with solutions.
What consumes the majority of your mental space during the day?
Unblocking others. I’m always thinking about how to unblock others, like engineers, operations, or retail associates to make sure they can accomplish their jobs. I’m also constantly prioritizing and verifying that we’re building the right thing.
What productivity “hacks” or habits do you live by?
Lately, I’ve been blocking off time on my calendar just to concentrate on focus. I put my phone settings to Do Not Disturb mode. I also set to-do lists for the day and the week, and keep a running list of things to do when I have time.
What’s the best way to keep your team motivated?
Keep them in touch with the customer. I work on retail store team technology, so I bubble up feedback and encourage the team to go to the store or visit drop-off locations on a frequent basis. I believe seeing customers in person and hearing their interactions with retail associates provides more meaning to our work.
Do you spend a lot of time in meetings? Which teams/departments do you meet with each week? Each month?
Like most PMs, most of my day is spent in meetings. I have standing monthly 1:1s with engineers and weekly 1:1s with designers on my team. I meet with my manager and my engineering manager weekly. Then I have various biweekly/monthly 1:1s with other PMs, marketing, IT, and retail and operations stakeholders. I also have a general weekly stakeholder meeting and project meetings.
When it comes to communication, what works for you and what doesn’t?
I work best with direct communication and open feedback. I welcome feedback with open arms, whether it’s face-to-face or online. It doesn’t work for me when information comes in pieces or side conversations.
What advice do you have for aspiring PMs?
Persistence! Try to start doing the job in your current position before transitioning to PM, whether it’s taking on leadership roles in school projects or organizations or taking on more PM-like tasks at your company.
How did you get into the PM field?
I did an interdisciplinary major in college, which lent itself nicely to product management. I managed to get PM internships in college, which allowed me to be a PM straight out of college.
What “PM cliches” are true?
I firmly believe PMs are responsible for the product’s success, no matter what. I do think that the PMs are the CEO of the Product, or at least they should think like it.
How do you start your day? How do you end your day?
I snooze my alarm (I’m not a morning person at all), get dressed in my exciting new rental, and walk to work. At work, I answer emails or messages I’ve missed. I end the day with either meditation (guided by Headspace!), stretching, or reading the news. Right before that, I may do some light prep for the next workday.
Where are your favorite places to go in NYC?
I love to people-watch in Washington Square Park or Central Park. Window shopping is best in Soho. My favorite slice is from Prince Street Pizza. I also love The Pierre Herme macaron shop in Saks Fifth Avenue because I have been obsessed with them ever since I studied abroad in Paris.
What’s your go-to jam when you need to concentrate on a difficult task?
Silence. I typically don’t listen to music when I work. But I will put on “Dancing On My Own” by Robyn when I need a pick-me-up song.
If you could work on any problem and develop a product for it, what would it be?
I would love to do something that helps the environment. I love the beach and I’m concerned that our beaches are disappearing. I’m not exactly sure what technology product that would be, but I’d love to help in any way I can.
What do you have on your desk?
We’ve had a few desk moves lately so my desk is pretty empty! I typically only keep my bag on my desk, my water bottle, and a few plants which I’m desperately trying to keep alive. You can also see my personalized mug, business cards, and my blue light glasses case. You can also peek my RTR bag which contains my latest rental — a fun plaid coat!