Enabling a team to prosper and ultimately bring a product to life

Product Owner
Carrie Ann Krochta
Publication Date
6 August 2021

Enabling a team to prosper and ultimately bring a product to life

Always open to adventure and challenge, Carrie Ann joined the Mobiquity team over three years ago as a Product Owner. She shares with us how Mobiquity satisfies her desire for continual variety and diversity in her professional life. She also talks about the responsibility and value she brings to a team through the eyes of a product owner.

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Carrie Ann Krochta: I’m American, originally from a region known as the rust belt, in Ohio, as it's the industrial part of the country . It’s a rural state where most of the population doesn’t even have a passport. From a young age, I have been enamoured by travel and once I was old enough to explore by myself, I would always be looking for an opportunity to go somewhere new, whether it was for a conference or just to discover a new place. Of course the main challenge I would have back then was trying to save up enough money for the plane tickets.

My hobbies and interests are quite diverse and ever changing. However, sport has always been a constant for me. I used to swim competitively as a kid, and since moving to The Netherlands I started distance running and am currently training to take part in my first triathlon. I have a great fondness for making things by hand. I love doing things the old fashioned way, like knitting and sewing. For one of my university projects I knitted a scarf in binary code. I also love to cook, especially Vietnamese food at the moment as it’s something I miss from my travels.

I like to explore and try different things in life and this is what gives me energy. To explain the type of person I am to others, I like to use Elizabeth Gilbert's theory on passion. The hummingbird sums me up perfectly;

“The world is divided into two types of people. There are the jackhammers, and there are the hummingbirds. The jackhammer is someone who becomes consumed by their passion and is just focused on that until the end of time. And then there’s the hummingbird, the colourful bird that floats around. They create incredibly rich, complex lives for themselves and they also end up cross-pollinating. That is the service you do if you are a hummingbird person.” Elizabeth Gilbert


From fine arts to product owner

I have a fine arts background and later went on to complete a master in cultural policy. I chose to pursue culture policy as for me it was a more practical application of arts, where the focus was more on how governments support the arts, how museums operate, and how soft power works in terms of cultural connections between countries. While studying, I was drawn towards the concept of place branding; how cultures make a brand for themselves and how it creates value tourism. As my interest for place branding grew, I thought it would be worthwhile to learn some lessons of the private sector in a branding firm, so I started my career working for a branding agency.

It was through this company that I met my partner, from the New Zealand office. Seven years ago we decided to drop everything and move to Vietnam to teach English. It was my first time living overseas. After a while I realised teaching English was not the right fit for me. I learned through a friend about an up and coming software company in Saigon that was looking for product owners and that is how I started on this path. I moved to The Netherlands in 2017 where I worked for another startup. I enjoyed being a product manager but needed something more, and that's when I found Mobiquity.

An engaging and supportive working environment

Previously, I had only ever worked in product companies, where at first I was really engaged, however, after a while the problems and projects became quite repetitive for me. My partner works as a designer in an agency, so it was him who encouraged me to find a job at an agency, as there is usually much more diversity in the type of work they take on, and I thrive on diversity. I had never considered this before as I always thought of them as purely creative. At Mobiquity however, it is not just creative, but rather a lot of product based work, and I enjoy this mix. I have found a good balance between utilising my existing knowledge and my desire for change and challenge. What stood out for me about Mobiquity, is that they care about the product principals and how it will be valuable to the end user. They also put a lot of emphasis on setting a client up for long term success. 

I think what really sealed it for me was whenever I talked to someone from Mobiquity, during the interview process, and asked them why they liked the company, I kept hearing it was because of the people. That stuck with me as something unique about this company. Working at Mobiquity provides me with a great opportunity to get exposed to a variety of different industries and responsibilities. I enjoy that each project varies in terms of scope. I get a feel for what is required and adapt my role to the needs of the project. The Mobiquity culture is extremely supportive, one in which people continuously lift each other up, encourage and are kind towards one another. Working here has given me the opportunity to work with lots of amazing people from all over the world, which I love. 


Creating functional goals to reach the desired result

I am a Senior Product Owner (PO). It’s a role in which a lot of boundaries tend to be blurred. The PO ultimately is the person who owns and maintains the backlog or to-do list of a product. They are responsible for taking the vision and end goal, and breaking that down into functionally achievable tasks for the team. Oftentimes, the role can drift towards that of a business analyst or product manager, depending on the project. You may also need to have discussions with different departments within the clients company to get a greater understanding of the product roadmap. Part of my job is also to try and educate the client on what needs to be done to ensure the desired result. I enjoy the variety in my role. Each product I work on, gives me a new experience and a chance to learn and grow. It is very fulfilling when I can ask the right questions to trigger an expert to solve a problem in the best way they know how.

Working on ila bank was very interesting as we built a neo bank from scratch. We started out this project with ten people which later grew, and we would travel back and forth to Bahrain from Amsterdam, every two weeks. That was fascinating, getting exposed to the culture, and being a part of the product from the whiteboard phase. I was responsible for the digital onboarding feature of the application, which is the first touch point for the end users. It was quite a complex problem to solve, which was a really interesting challenge for me. And what is really cool about this project was that we were able to take the lessons we had learnt and actually make an internal app that could serve as a springboard for other projects in future, essentially a generic reusable version. It has since been used for other banking projects which is really nice to see.

I am now working with the Datakeeper team, who have created an app which empowers consumers to be in control of their own data, and share personal documents in a secure, hassle free way. It is a really fun project to work on and we were also able to take part in some of their music festival field tests. What I like most about this project though, is the incredible team we have. Each member really supports one another and pushes each other in order to achieve something amazing together.


Empowering those around me to thrive

What is the value a PO brings to a product or project? I would have to say one of the main values of a good PO is their ability to keep everybody participating in a project growing in the same direction, towards the same goal. They enable a team to do their best work and solve the right problems in the best way. It can happen that the client can be an expert in subject matter, but not necessarily on the development process of the product as a whole. In this instance, it is the role of a PO to ensure as a team the product is brought to life in the way in which it was envisioned. For a team to be autonomous, you need someone who can clearly communicate where you are heading and why you are going in that direction. Then, as and when individuals need to make micro decisions throughout the project, they can make an informed decision that stays in line with the vision put in place. 

The ultimate goal of a PO is twofold. It's about making sure the end product is valuable to your customer, but it's also about getting the most out of the entire team's knowledge and skill sets. They're a critical link between the internal development team and the external client team. No two projects are ever the same and each product brings its own challenges to tackle and overcome. As a PO you need to be flexible and adaptable in your approach to ensure you can continue to work out what is involved in each step, and translate what each piece of work means for individual team members, in order to organise efforts and align to the same successful result.

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