Engineering and Product

Dan York, Chief Product Officer at Harmoney

From childhood dreams of wanting to make products that help people and the economy in sustainable ways, it is not surprising that Dan York, Chief Product Officer at Harmoney ended up working in the tech industry.

We caught up with Dan to learn more about his career journey to working as a CPO, what he loves about working in product and some of the key attributes required to excel, as well as some insight into the types of people that thrive within the Harmoney environment.

Thanks for sharing your story, Dan.

Getting to know Dan

Favourite book of all time?

The Outsiders by SE Hinton.

Top hobby outside of work?

Mountain biking, music production, reading, skiing.

Your number one daily habit that keeps you productive?

Writing a daily ‘to do’ list based on outcomes not outputs.

Favourite piece of tech you use in your workday and why?

Slack because I prefer not to use email.

Firstly, how would you explain to a five-year-old what it is you do?

You know how there are some things you like and some things you don’t. I try to make more of the things you like.

“The reality is much messier, as Product teams have many stakeholders...”

And for the adults, what does that translate to in regards to your day-to-day at Harmoney?

The sanitised answer is we build financial products for customers that are fair and easy to use and that deliver on our company vision.

We do this by understanding customer problems using analytics and research. We then come up with solutions and prioritise those that the customer values, that meet Harmoney’s objectives, and that are technically feasible to build.

The reality is much more messy, as Product teams have many stakeholders inside and outside the organisation with different ideas, timeframes and goals.

Was working in tech something you dreamed about doing as a kid, if not what was?

Working in tech was never an end goal for me. It’s an enabler for building products that make people's lives better. I have always wanted to build products that create value for people and the economy in sustainable ways.

What are some of the most interesting challenges that you face in your role currently?

We want to be able to get new products into the market in 90 days so we can test and learn quickly and fail fast. Building for this is a technology and capability challenge.

Assuming we solve it from a technology perspective then we need to empower our product teams to deliver. And you can’t just say “hey you are an empowered team now, so go build us some new products” you need to get the right people in the right roles and provide the right training and guidance through strategic objectives.

“I got to keep the phone Richard Branson used for the launch…unfortunately all the numbers and data were wiped!”

Tell us a little bit more about your career pathway and ultimately how you got into your current role Harmoney?

I started my career in banking as an analyst and then moved into the product space. I launched the first online banking savings account for ANZ and the first iPhone for Virgin Mobile in Australia. After the launch I got to keep the phone Richard Branson used for the launch…unfortunately all the numbers and data were wiped!.

Harmoney is my third startup, following mixed results starting the first hybrid vehicle taxi company in Australia in the mid 2000’s, and trying to replace bottled water in schools in Sydney with a sustainable alternative.

Most recently the journey with Harmoney from six of us in an office with an idea of bringing peer-to-peer lending to NZ to IPO in 2020 and taking on the Australian banks in Australia.

What do you love about your role and why should others consider the career path?

In product, you have the opportunity to set the direction of the product which is great when you care about the industry you are in and the problems you are solving. It requires a wide set of hard and soft skills which is great for a generalist like myself.

For people interested in following a similar path, what are the key skills or attributes that you think are important and where can people get started?

Learn to love and understand data. Learn to align people using objectives and outcomes.

“We like individuals but are not fans of ego and politics...”

Lastly, are there any key traits or characteristics of people that do well in the Harmeoney environment?

We hire for attitude over amplitude. What this translates to is that we want people who will take ownership and improve on something rather than complain about it at the water cooler.

They need to have a growth mindset and can take feedback to learn and improve. We like individuals but are not fans of ego and politics, which usually go together in my experience.

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