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Engineering & Product

Tegan Wilson, Product Manager at CoGo

Never say never! After vehemently claiming she would never work in finance or computers, Tegan Wilson, API Product Manager at CoGo finds herself at the intersection of both and loving it!

There is often a lot of confusion around what a Product Manager actually does and Tegan kindly breaks this down with insights into her day-to-day that hopefully her family might one day understand. With a clear passion for CoGo's mission to change the world, it is obvious to see that Tegan has found a great home at CoGo. Thanks for sharing your story, Tegan.

““I help build computer programs that companies can use to show people how their spending impacts our planet.””

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

(Long version): The actions we take every day and the things we buy with our money can be bad for our world. I help companies show people how spending their money can damage our environment. I work with people who build computer programs to send this information to companies like banks. It’s my job to make sure we build the right thing.

(Short version): I help build computer programs that companies can use to show people how their spending impacts our planet.

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

(Short version): It’s my job to make sure we develop valuable software for companies like banks to use to show their customers the carbon footprint of their spending.

(Long version): We provide data for companies (like banks) to use to show their customers the carbon footprint of their spending. To do this, we have to build something that can receive and respond to requests for data. It’s my job to make sure we develop an easy-to-use and valuable product for the companies we partner with. To do this, I research what these companies want, and work with software developers to build a solution.

What are some of the common misconceptions about working in product management?

Most people outside of tech have no idea what a product manager is! My family think I ‘do something with computers’. I see a product manager as being the meeting point between what the user wants, what the business needs, and what the technology can achieve.

I think some people in tech see us only as ‘project managers’ or organisers, but our main concern is how our product can simultaneously provide real value to our users and meet business goals by building the right thing, at the right time, for the right people.

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

No! When I left school I said ‘I’ll never work in finance or computers, that’s boring!’. I wanted to save the world by working in a charity that fed hungry kids or in the UN fighting for human rights. I stumbled into tech by chance and began to see the huge potential in using tech for good, and how technology can help people and change the world.

“It was like jumping on board a rocketship and I saw the company scale at speed.”

Tell us a little bit more about your career journey and ultimately about how you ended up working at CoGo?

I started my tech journey in a customer support role for an early stage fintech start up in London. It was like jumping on board a rocketship and I saw the company scale at speed. I loved the fast-paced collaborative atmosphere where everyone brought their talents in their area of expertise to build something amazing.

It wasn’t long before I was managing a customer operations team, helping it expand into multiple countries and dealing with more and more complex user problems. I started working closely with the tech and product teams, feeding back on user pain points and hunting bugs.

An opportunity came up to move into a product role to build a global customer ops SaaS tool. It was a steep learning curve but my experience of being close to the user and leading teams was invaluable. I was also lucky to be surrounded by talented and supportive developers who taught me the ropes.

After 5 years, I returned to New Zealand and hoped to find a job that would combine my experience in software product management and my desire to make a difference in the world. Enter CoGo! I was super excited to join a socially and ethically conscious team that was leveraging the power of technology to enable positive change.

What is the best piece of career advice you have ever received?

Be a lifelong learner. Be willing to try and fail, learn and grow. Take on board feedback and use it get better at what you do.

“There are endless opportunities in the tech space to apply the skills and experience you have from other areas.”

Do you have any advice for people considering tech as a career path and how they might get there quicker?

There are endless opportunities in the tech space to apply the skills and experience you have from other areas. If you’re curious about a certain role, there are often short intro courses online where you can get a feel for it.

In my experience, the tech industry is much more open to on the job training and more likely to value a great attitude, passion and work ethic over strictly meeting arbitrary experience requirements. Don’t be afraid to put yourself forward even if you don’t tick all the boxes!

What is it specifically that you like about working at CoGo?

We’re actually trying to change the world for the better by empowering everyday people and encouraging ethical business. People’s everyday decisions at CoGo are driven by how we can create a more sustainable and fair world together. The team don’t just have brilliant minds here, they also have big hearts.

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