We’re back! We’ve recently expanded our team to ten amazingly talented people, so it’s with much excitement that we’ve revived our “A Day in the Life” series!
Today, we’re meeting our new product manager, Mingwei Ma. We’d been looking for the perfect product manager for years … until she found us! Mingwei is responsible for defining product requirements, partnering with clients, setting project schedules and expectations, and collaborating with Simpaticos to deliver top-notch work. Today, she talks about how she became Simpatico’s first product manager.
I really wanted to be a fashion designer for a long time. I went to a high school that had a fashion major and eventually graduated from FIT.
I graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology in December 2019, right before the pandemic started. While I was looking for my first job, my sister and I started a small sticker business online. I realized that I love working in “small business” environments where I get to participate in all aspects of the business. Being a PM is great because I get to learn from all my teammates! When I’m not working, I like to spend time at the pilates studio, go on long walks to my favorite bakeries around the city, watch basketball, and clean my apartment. I love cats and have 2 kitties at home with my family that I miss very much when living in New York.
What does your typical work day at Simpatico look like?
A typical day starts with checking emails, Slack, and Basecamp. I respond to any questions or requests that have come in from last night and prepare updates for our daily standups with the team. I’m always ready to learn something new and I love that I get to try my hand at wireframes and designs from time to time! I’ll do anything to empower our designers and developers to focus on what they’re good at – making awesome websites and collateral.
What originally led you to apply for our PM position? How does it differ from your previous job?
I was previously a project manager at another small agency, working on an account that focused mostly on print production work. It was a great opportunity that first introduced me to the project/product management career. After a year, I wanted to change industries and learn something new. I’m so thankful I saw the Simpatico job posting one early morning after a night of insomnia! The biggest difference working at Simpatico is the team – everyone here is genuinely so talented, hardworking, and nice. Even when there are tough days, I don’t feel burnt out or overly stressed because of how supportive everyone is. 😊
You are the queen of planners and organization – do you have any tips to share on how you keep everything on your radar?
There are so many tools available now, and I really like how Basecamp has visibility for both the client and the Simpatico team. For miscellaneous and personal items, I still enjoy using Asana and my written planners. Checking things off a list is really satisfying to me. It also helps that Tamara has already set up a super robust and organized system internally! I still have a lot to learn about delegating workload, creating realistic timelines, and managing expectations, but I have a great team to lean on.
How do you keep both our clients and our team happy when something goes awry?
It’s really tough to see our team feel down when things don’t go the way we expected. Everyone is generally optimistic here so we don’t stay down for long. I try to think creatively about how I can take some work off our design or dev team’s plates so they can have more time to recharge and focus on what they are good at and what they like. I’ve also learned a lot from Tamara about how to keep clients happy while protecting our team’s time. Being patient, friendly, and flexible are all key to keeping the peace.
What’s the hardest part about being a PM? The easiest?
The hardest part is balancing being accommodating and firm at the same time. You can’t control others’ actions so it can get frustrating. I’m not sure if it’s the easiest part, but the part I enjoy most about being a PM is organizing chaos. Turning large projects/goals into smaller lists with clear dates and assignees is really fun.