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From People Experience to Product – a job swap diary

From People Experience to Product – a job swap diary

In my day job as a People Experience Lead at PaperCut, I fortunately enjoy a great diversity of responsibilities and tasks:

  • Coaching our PaperCutters to help them on their growth journeys
  • Kicking off initiatives to increase our employee engagement
  • Designing new processes to make work-life easier for our people as we scale
  • Presenting and running meetings… 

Something I have never done before, though, is be a part of the product creation process. Since I work in a product company I figured the opportunity to do so was one I shouldn’t miss… 

So I decided to swap jobs for a week and joined our PaperCut Mobility Print initiative team!

In doing so, I had three objectives I wanted to accomplish:

  • Get exposed to how we build product and grow my understanding of what goes into product creation
  • Learn a heck of a lot about product management
  • Actually do something that contributes to the initiative – I really didn’t want to just sit in on meetings (although that was hugely insightful and valuable), I wanted to ‘get my hands dirty’ and do stuff!

Hold on, what’s a PaperCut job swap? 

PaperCut Job Swap is an opportunity for PaperCutters to shift from their day-to-day role to another position in the business, and trial doing something else, for a limited time.

Job Swap started off as an experiment a few years ago and since then we’ve had a number of them. Some job swaps were across time zones and geographic locations and we’ve even had our leadership team participate in them too!  For a few of our PaperCutters, it’s even resulted in a subsequent career change! 

A job swap provides an unparalleled opportunity to learn something completely new, grow your understanding of the business, and, as our CEO and co-founder, Chris Dance, likes to call it, become more ‘T-shaped’ – meaning that you increase your breadth of experience and knowledge which ultimately helps you be more successful in whatever your regular role is. 

My Job Swap week 

I started my job swap last Monday, kicking it off with a team stand up (over Google Meet as we are all remote at the moment) where everybody shared what was on their to-do list for the day. I received a super warm welcome and any prior apprehension melted away in a flash.  

On my first day, I installed the Mobility Print application and went through all our guides, and made notes of where we might want to make some tweaks. Excitingly, I  witnessed the team shipping an update (and learned that we play fun music to celebrate as we deploy!) I then got to respond to a customer who had an issue with the software.  I also did heaps of research and started doing industry analysis. 

On day two after the daily stand-up (check-in meeting), I attended a customer voice session with the Supportie from the Americas team – Art. These sessions are set up so the Support team, who get to interact with our customers the most, are able to share the feedback that is coming through and collaborate with the initiative team on what solutions we might come up with to address any challenges that customers may experience. 

This was an insightful session where I got to learn how we might approach addressing customer feedback (the answer is definitely not simply ‘build more features’) as well as trying to weigh in on what would be the most important to prioritize.

I continued on with the competitor analysis work and was contributing to a business case Willem (Senior Product Manager working on the Mobility Print initiative) was preparing. To be honest, I felt a little overwhelmed – it was daunting to be sooo out of my depth and swimming in so many unknowns! I knew this was part of the experience though and persevered. 

Day three kicked off with a session with two of our Supporties from the Americas team – Art and Tyler – whom I’ve enlisted to help me with writing a Knowledge Base article for our Mobility Print home users.  I got a chance to ask a bunch of ‘stupid questions’ and got so much insight and tips from them. I  walked away feeling so grateful for their time and willingness to help as well as a bunch of info to help me get started on writing. 

The rest of my job swap week was spent: 

  • attending various product sessions
  • meeting with our marketing agency to hear how the latest campaigns performed
  • participating in a team retro
  • witnessing the team troubleshoot and resolve some blockers

I concluded the week by writing my own Knowledge Base article on Mobility Print and noting down my thoughts about my job swap week to share in this blog 🙂. 

Reflections

It’s only been one week but the amount of learnings I am taking away from the job swap is waaay more than what I thought I’d have after five days. I didn’t really know what to expect and having an open mind allowed me to just dive in headfirst. 

On a personal level, it’s been awesome to do something completely new and unfamiliar – this was a real push out of my comfort zone, yet so rewarding! 

From a professional standpoint, I am walking away with a much better idea of what goes into making a product, getting it out into the world, and having customers love it!

I can already see how this week will help me in my People Experience role – adapting a product thinking mindset, having more empathy for my ‘customers’ (PaperCutters) as well as having a better understanding of the business and what a typical day-to-day for many of our people looks like. 

I am ending the week having grown, built closer relationships with the team I was part of, and definitely invigorated to bring a different perspective to my regular role too! 

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