Tom White

Chief Product Officer

1. Tell us about the business you work for and its mission

Nye Health - patient engagement and real world data for new and existing medicines.

2. What attracted you to working in product management originally?

Originally I liked the idea of doing more with digital but staying within health - I was on the way to perhaps becoming a public health consultant for the first 7 years of my career. I didn't specifically seek product out, but I found that the role of a PM suited me and I've fortunately managed to craft a career in health-tech since.

3. What was your path to becoming a Chief Product Officer?

Firstly, I'm CPO at a small start up, so tread carefully chasing titles! My path was slightly unusual as I've always managed people and mentioned above that I had other experience prior to getting in to product type roles. My path was that of learning to be more commercially focused across the different roles I've held. On paper the titles look similar, but I've very much learnt something different from each role and built my knowledge.

4. What are the core skills and experience required for your position?

Big lens, little lens thinking: Being able to see and plan for, the big picture is vital and a key part of any leadership role. But I also have to know enough about the detail to work with my team and give constructive input. Other skills include the ability to deeply understand and be expert on customer problems. Leadership and the ability to build relationships across businesses are also vital. Experience: it's tough to say but to get towards a product leadership role, its normal to expect that you've shipped some products before and can demonstrate a communicable method/process for your approach to product. You need to be able to clearly and quickly understand business needs and get everyone working on them.

5. Who are the key players every product leader should have in their team?

You need to have that person or people you can rely on to execute no matter what. Its a good rule for any discipline not just product: become the person your lead relies on, even when its a rubbish task. That trust is vital. For me as a team lead, if I have someone who I know I can pick up the phone and have a conversation to unstick a problem or just get something done.... then I've got a safety net that I can rely on. You also need people who think differently to you and provide a different angle on things.

6. What qualities do you look for when hiring for a product team?

Clarity - both of product skills/value they bring but also clear self awareness. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses but what sets people apart is the ability to understand and act on them.Having the courage to speak up is important and also being brave enough to say 'I don't know'. Sense of humour - you don't have to laugh at my Dad jokes, but its important for me in my teams to be able to have conversations that aren't always about the work.

7. What do you love most about your line of work?

I enjoy the variety - particularly as I'm a start up person. I like the ownership of problems and the breadth. I also like that you can know everyone quite well in your company by being in product as you have to work right across departments. The thing I most enjoy is seeing others learn and grow - that's why I mentor people and teach on a PM course too.

8. What advice would you give to someone wanting to develop a career in product management?

That's a tough question as its quite different at every stage. Plainly, breaking in to being a PM can be hard as can breaking in to leadership (as there are fewer lead roles). I'd advise people to look into getting a mentor; there are a few platforms out there that will connect you. A good mentor can help you structure your goals before you spend money on coaching/ courses etc. Once you are in a PM role, try to look at how you can add the most value in your situation. As a general trend, PMs I speak to are often looking for ways to develop their strategic skills. But this is a generalisation and its really going to depend on your own career goals and what role(s) you want next.

9. What do you do to relax in your free time?

Apart from spending time with my wife & daughter (and 65kg Newfoundland dog)....I'm occasionally allowed out to play some golf and I'm clinging to the end of my basketball career - trying to deny the state of my knees to show the young guys how its done.

10. Which essential item do you always pack for a business trip?

Mouse - I hate trackpads with an unusual passion.

Finally, any company news that you would like us to include to share with our audience?

Nye Health would love it if you followed our page and perhaps even dropped us a line for a chat if you are looking into a similar problem space.

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