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How to start a career in Product: Liz Li, Chief Product Officer at Velocity Global

Liz Li, Chief Product Officer at Velocity Global

ARTICLE SUMMARY

Have you ever wanted to start a career in product, but wondered what exactly it involved? SheCanCode recently caught up with Liz Li, chief product officer at Velocity to hear about her career so far.

Liz leads Velocity Global’s Product and Design teams, where she is responsible for defining the company’s product vision and roadmap in close collaboration with the Chief Technology Officer and their team. In her role, Liz applies in-depth experience connecting talent with opportunities from her nearly 12 years at LinkedIn, where she led and worked on several core initiatives focusing on monetization, growth, and the consumer experience.

During that time, she led the launch of LinkedIn Sales Navigator, now a billion-dollar business, and owned acquisition and retention for LinkedIn Premium Subscriptions, significantly growing that business. Liz holds a bachelor’s and a master’s in electrical engineering from Stanford University. Outside of work, she loves spending time with her husband, two kids, and her dog.

WHAT DOES AN AVERAGE WORKDAY LOOK LIKE FOR YOU? 

One of the most exciting things about working at a rapidly growing remote company is that every workday looks a little bit different. As the chief product officer, my day-to-day responsibilities revolve around leading my team of product managers and designers to deeply understand our end users and their pain points and innovate product solutions to solve those problems. On any given day, doing so involves working with people cross-functionally, deep diving into products and designs, setting up processes and best practices, and making sure teams across the company have the right information needed to do their jobs well.

Specifically, I spend a lot of my time focused on our Employer of Record (EoR) platform, Velocity Global’s main offering. The demand for a distributed workforce is more important than ever for companies to have a compliant and fast way to hire, manage, and pay talent around the world.

Given that we are a remote company, I am fortunate to have the flexibility in my schedule that allows me to balance life and work during the day, which includes being able to walk to pick up my kid at school and virtually attend meetings when I get back.

ARE THERE ANY SPECIFIC SKILLS OR TRAITS THAT YOU NOTICE COMPANIES LOOK FOR WHEN YOU’RE SEARCHING FOR ROLES IN YOUR FIELD? 

As someone who’s doing a lot of hiring herself, I can share some of the skillsets I look for. I tend to think of the product management skillset through the framework of the PM craft triangle, where every individual product manager has a combination of General Management (leadership, cross-functional communication, and collaboration), Artist (design-oriented), and Scientist (analytical, emphasis on success metrics) skills. I look for individuals who meet a minimum bar across all of these, and I over-index on General Management the more senior the role I’m hiring for.

HOW DO YOU THINK DIVERSITY CAN IMPACT PRODUCT DESIGN AND DEVELOPMENT? 

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of having a diverse team in product design and

development. This is one of my top values as a leader in tech, as I’ve faced many obstacles being an Asian woman in tech growing my own career, and becoming an executive. Gender, racial and cultural diversity brings immense value to the team, improving the experience of the end-user because our end-user base will always be more diverse than the team building for them, just by pure numbers.

Study after study conclude that diversity and inclusion improve team performance; one study, for example, showed that gender-diverse and inclusive teams outperformed less diverse and inclusive teams by 50% on average. Furthermore, product development spans multiple customer profiles – that’s particularly true if you’re working with a global client base as we do. Having a high-performing team with different backgrounds, a variety of skill sets, and overall experience, undoubtedly has a positive effect on creating the best products, providing a more fulfilling work experience and equitable environment for employees, ultimately all contributing to a company’s success.

WHAT MAKES A ROLE IN PRODUCT GREAT FOR SOMEONE WHO DOESN’T HAVE PURE CODING SKILLS? 

Roles in product and design are great because you don’t have to have coding skills, you just need to know how to best collaborate and work with engineers who do. While I do have an engineering background, I don’t rely on it that heavily and some of the best product managers I know don’t know how to code. What I do lean on is my problem-solving and analytical ability – the process of identifying a problem or pain point, brainstorming user-centric solutions, and ultimately collaborating with a team, including engineers who know how to code, to create a product that solves pain points for end users.

In fact, my journey to becoming a leader in product actually began with the realization that I did not want to be a full-time engineer. I had the opportunity to explore a variety of roles in tech when I joined Accenture Technology Labs early in my career, and I was captivated by working directly with customers.

HOW DOES VELOCITY GLOBAL SUPPORT YOU IN YOUR OWN CAREER DEVELOPMENT?

I’m a mission-driven person and Velocity Global’s mission aligns well with my personal one – to build people and products that create belonging – which is something that truly motivates me to come to work and do my best every single day.

Velocity Global’s platform enables companies to connect talent with opportunity all over the world, regardless of location, allowing our clients to create distributed teams with diverse backgrounds, education, and experiences while creating equity across a global talent pool.

Aligning with the product we sell, Velocity Global also values hiring people with this same diversity – myself included, being an Asian woman on the executive leadership team. I’m truly excited about the opportunities ahead for me personally, Velocity Global as a business, and the people whose lives we will impact through our products.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE OTHER WOMEN WANTING TO REACH THEIR CAREER GOALS IN TECHNOLOGY? ADVICE YOU WISH YOU HAD BEEN TOLD.

There are two key pieces of advice I would give to women working towards their career goals in technology. The first is to find a mission and purpose behind the work you are doing. The greater the purpose, the greater the motivation, which leads to impactful results for the company, the customers, and yourself.

The second is to find a community that empowers you to aim high with your goals. Whether it’s friends, colleagues, or my family, my community supports me and pushes me to grow. As an Asian woman in tech, I’ve overcome many obstacles to achieve the executive position I’m in today, and I’m very motivated to empower other women to do the same.

LEARN MORE ABOUT WORKING AT VELOCITY GLOBAL

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