1. Please give us a quick introduction of yourself.
Hi, my name is Jin, product manager in charge of BuzzScreen, which is one of the many products at Buzzvil. Some call me Alpaca or Llama, as there is a rumor going around that I look like one…
My first job was at a Korean large corporation in the oil and gas industry. To simply put it, it was a job in constructing factories mining and refining oil from places around the world. My role was in project management where I had to manage in general the projects worth billions of dollars. And after that, I worked at small startups in Korea and the U.S. in mobile advertising, pet food e-commerce, food delivery and so on. Then, I joined Buzzvil.
2. What brings you to Buzzvil?
After I quit my first job at a very Korean large corporation in a very conservative industry, I searched for a career path as I did my MBA, with 3 points in mind.
– A company in a fast-changing industry
– A position where I can use my transferrable skills
– A freer working environment
I came to realize that the industry I was looking for is IT, and I realized that being a product manager is a new position where I could use my skill set I honed as a project manager. I felt strongly that the free working environment can be offered in global companies, and that is why I started working at a small startup in L.A.
It was a small company with about four employees, so I could learn so much during my first year, like marketing or planning and partially in developing. However, there wasn’t enough people in the development part to call it a tech company. So I looked for a place where I can learn more- which is why I applied to Buzzvil.
The biggest reason why I decided to come to Buzzvil was because of the way its interview was carried out. I really enjoyed the three-part interview. The first and second PM interviews both had assignments, and I was very nervous and under great pressure going as I had to prepare under a tight deadline… But when I actually started the interview, I wasn’t evaluated. Instead, time flew as we gathered around to discuss freely on “How could we solve the problem in a better way?” If the interview with the CEO and CPO was like this, I got the strong feeling that I could also talk and express what I have on my mind freely at work as well- which is why I decided to join the company.
3. What is your role at Buzzvil?
I am working as the product manager for a product called BuzzScreen. In short, I plan out a road map with consideration of the needs of the partnered companies and users which is in the supply side and the market conditions, and then I develop and improve the product according to the road map.
As BuzzScreen is especially a SDK product, there is a lot of interaction with the partnered companies. I also find areas that need improvement and add the necessary functions to the product through regular meetings with partnered companies. But as our partners from home and abroad use the same product, it’s impossible to apply their every needs. If I did, it would become a product no longer manageable.
I think it is a position where I need to think a lot on what really is necessary for the product development and how to satisfy users and partnered companies without harming the sustainability of the product. Also, for within the company, I have to take the role in keeping the business and development in tune. Considering the current condition, I have to take part in leveling the speed when a certain part is running too slow or fast and to adjust what is expected from the counterpart.
I need to create an environment where developers can do their jobs without being chased and where the ones in charge of business can respond appropriately to their partners. In the end, I think that my job is (or should be) in making it possible for people with expertise in each field to concentrate on their work so that they can do their best.
4. How does it feel to work at a startup? or advertising industry?
I think it ‘s really hard to work at a startup. But as hard as it is, I have fun and it’s rewarding. The fact that it is “hard” can become a great advantage. Compared to my experience working in a large company, startups certainly have less structured process. It is a disadvantage that the resources are included in parts that can be complemented by the process, and effect of an absence of one person is relatively large.
But when you think about it, there is no fixed process, so the level of freedom is high and the work speed, fast. It’s also very interesting to find out the fastest way to get the job done and what each person can do in the process, without having to argue over the scope of work between departments.
It is also interesting to try new things for the company structure. When I was in a large company … It felt as if I was constantly putting dots on with set colors on a painting that’s already been painted. But then in a startup, you feel like drawing on a paper with a mere sketch. (Maybe this is just a Buzzvil thing…) Depending on who is making the drawing, it could be a kid’s scribble or a famous painter’s masterpiece. The process is really tough, but I can feel the rewards of contributing to the development of the company, and I can say that it is an environment where I can grow. For those who want to live comfortably without any greed, it will be a hell of a task to work at a startup. (This is a very personal opinion.)
5. Is there something that you can say “this is the best part being Buzzvilians”?
Buzzvil is a company that fits perfectly to the saying, “Personnel management is everything.”
I think the people gathered here are ones who make you think they can succeed in anything they do. Every time I’m having difficulties, Steve always says, “You might not feel it right now because you’re so used to it, but it’s a rare environment where you can work with people as good as here.” And I cannot agree more to that. Especially, when it was less than a month that I had started working at the company, it was in a difficult situation due to external factors. But each and every one did their best in their own fields and overcame the difficult times, and that short term was a good opportunity to realize the amazing capabilities of Buzzvilians. I realize that I am working with good people, also outside the workplace. Whenever I play table tennis or games at lunchtime (giving up nap), they worry about my lack of playing skills and give sincere advice to improve them.
6. Do you have a personal goal or dream? If so, how does your experience at Buzzvil help you?
In short, it is my dream to become the best supporting role. You can say that it is not getting in front of other people and not getting the spotlight, but a person who makes you think, “I can succeed in anything with this person.”
I think I lived with the idea of wanting to help others at a young age. I was a normal student, went to college, got a job and sort of tucked the thought away. It was just that much. After I quit my first job, I thought about what I should do for the rest of my life, and then I looked back on this idea. Then I got to do MBA and met people I had never met before, so I was able to materialize this once-vague idea. The first step to becoming the best supportive role.
First of all, I want to help those who feel lost because they do not know how to materialize their ideas. I would like to participate in the business a little deeper than an angel investor or incubator, helping to do the actual work, working together, solving problems and bringing the ideas to the reality. I don’t think what I’m doing right now in Buzzvil is much different from it. I think that planning, creating and operating a product as a PM is eventually starting a small business. If you take the necessary steps in the process of creating a product and processing it, being painful again in the process, you will be able to both directly and indirectly experience what you need while embodying your ideas. So if I train myself in that way, I will finally be able to take a step closer to the dream that I want to achieve.