Welcome to the latest edition of our Staff Spotlight series, where we cast a spotlight on the people behind Sparta’s achievements. Join us in peeling back the curtain to uncover the exceptional individuals who form the bedrock of our company.
This time, we talk to Álvaro Mier, our Product Manager here at Sparta. Coming from a background in marketing, Álvaro pivoted to his true passion – delivering value to customers. With a strong grasp of customer insights, market dynamics, and competition, Álvaro carefully shapes product directions through seamless collaboration with development and data teams.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN WITH THE COMPANY?
For five months, I joined Sparta in April this year.
CAN YOU EXPLAIN YOUR ROLE
As one of the product managers at Sparta. I can confidently say that we hold a responsible and customer-centric role in which we collaborate with various departments, such as sales, customer success, marketing, developers, commodity owners and data people. It’s quite a comprehensive process, really. We kick off with a discovery phase, during which we gather information about the customers, their pain points, the market trends, and even our competitors. We also explore potential innovations.
After this, we evaluate these possibilities and translate our analysis into product requirements. Once we align ourselves with our desired goals, we work on delivering distinct features. Of course, this involves close collaboration with the development and data teams, as well as all stakeholders involved in the project. Our ultimate aim is to bring value to our customers. We then analyse various metrics to assess the impact of our product once it’s out in the market. This helps us determine whether the tool we’ve provided is truly impactful and useful. If necessary, we make optimizations.
So, that’s the essence of the process, I would say.
HOW DID YOU GET STARTED IN THE INDUSTRY?/CAN YOU GIVE ME A RUNDOWN OF YOUR CAREER PATH UP UNTIL THIS POINT?
When I began my professional journey, I initially started working in marketing. This choice was in line with my educational background, having earned a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree in marketing. At the outset of my career, I held the position of a Digital Marketing Manager. This experience has also contributed to my skill set.
I worked in the marketing field for approximately two years. However, I felt the desire to embrace more complexity and deliver enhanced value to customers. This aspiration led me to transition into product management. For the past four or five years, I have been immersed in the realm of product management, primarily within the software-as-a-service (SaaS) industry.
During my time in marketing, where I focused on media and marketing plans, I realized that my scope was limited to the marketing domain alone. My aim was to provide broader insights and greater value across the entire company. This realization prompted me to pivot towards product management. I was able to demonstrate my suitability for this role, and that’s why I made the switch.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE PART OF WORKING AT OUR COMPANY?
I truly appreciate the concept of “just own it.” It signifies taking responsibility for what you deliver to the market. This principle resonates with me deeply, and I also value the close collaboration with colleagues across departments. The collective focus on consistently delivering value is something that truly appeals to me.
WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF IN YOUR CAREER SO FAR?
Speaking about scalability, I’ve gained experience in scaling various types of companies, primarily focusing on SaaS companies. This entails increasing income, number of users, purchases, acquisitions, and subscriptions. Dealing with scalability has been a significant aspect of my career. I find particular satisfaction in building from the ground up.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE OUR COMPANY CULTURE?
As I mentioned earlier, I believe that taking responsibility for what we deliver to the market is crucial. Moreover, working collaboratively alongside my colleagues and sharing the same path towards our common goal is of utmost importance to me. This alignment enhances our overall effectiveness.
We all come from diverse backgrounds within our product squad, so we have a diverse skill set. For instance, there’s Laura who brings her experience from QA, and we also have Javier as a senior PM and Sonia who has worked in various industries. This diverse expertise and perspective enrich our team. I find that this cross-functional collaboration is proving to be highly effective and meaningful.
WHAT’S ONE THING PEOPLE DON’T KNOW ABOUT YOU THAT THEY WOULD BE SURPRISED TO FIND OUT?
I was thinking about that question. I came into conclusion that well, in my personal life I love poetry, I love to read poetry. I have been writing poetry for a while now too. So yeah, this is an intriguing fact about me, which also doubles as a soft skill.
I’d also like to mention that I am well-organised. This aspect holds true not only in my professional life but also in my personal life. I have a natural inclination to plan things meticulously and keep everything in proper order.
WHAT’S THE MOST INTERESTING PROJECT YOU’VE WORKED ON HERE?
Currently, this is a work in progress as I am in the process of building it. The Product Analytics scheme has been approved, but it’s not yet fully established within Sparta. We lack a well-defined and structured product analytics framework. So, right now I am engaged in creating this structure, a task that proves to be quite tricky. But the complexity is exactly why I find it so fun.
WHAT PIECE OF ADVICE TO YOUR YOUNGER SELF?
I would say that life truly revolves around the time you share with your family, friends, and nature. This is where I find life’s meaning.
HOW HAS YOUR ROLE EVOLVED OVER TIME SINCE YOU’VE BEEN HERE?
It’s quite fluid, almost like a liquid state, I would say. As you might be aware, being a start-up, we often need to adjust and pivot. So, my focus has been on delivering internal tools for the company. This has been a major aspect of my role. I am in the process of creating a product analytics framework, and I have also been involved in delivering product task solutions. This progression shows how my role has evolved over time.
WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS FOR THE NEXT FEW MONTHS/YEARS?
Here, I have set three primary goals. The first goal is to consistently deliver value to Sparta on a daily basis. This represents one of my key challenges and aspirations. The second goal is to contribute towards the company’s scaling efforts. Part of this involves addressing scalability concerns. Therefore, I intend to facilitate scalability within Sparta. The third goal is more personal in nature, involving maintaining a sense of curiosity and exploring various aspects in my daily life. That sums it up.
WHAT IS ONE THING YOU WISH PEOPLE KNEW ABOUT YOUR JOB?
Okay. I believe what I want to emphasize is that in product management, what we develop isn’t just an idea; it’s a process. It’s a journey involving information gathering, analysis, hypothesis validation, product discovery and prioritisation. Throughout this process, the customer remains central to our validation, and our decisions are guided by data. It’s not solely about an idea; rather, it’s about a comprehensive process. Ensuring the success of this process is one of our primary responsibilities.
WHAT’S ONE THING THAT SURPRISED YOU ABOUT YOUR CURRENT ROLE?
Well, it’s not just about my role; it’s about Sparta as a whole. It’s about the reputation that Sparta holds due to having the best product in the market. And I’m not saying that just because I work here, I’m stating this based on the concrete results we’ve achieved. I genuinely believe we have gold in our hands.
IF YOU HAD THREE WISHES, WHAT WOULD THEY BE?
The first one is my wish for good health for the people I care about—my family and friends. I want them to be healthy and well. The second one is about making a meaningful contribution to my hometown to ensure its prosperity in the future. I aim to contribute to my hometown’s development and the well-being of its inhabitants. This is because I have a deep affection for my hometown, Torrelavega.
I’m going to keep the last wish a secret.
WHAT’S THE LAST SONG YOU LISTENED TO?
I suppose it’s a rap song called “HARD GZ” by Pisar la cima
WHAT, IF ANYTHING, ARE YOU CURRENTLY BINGE-WATCHING OR READING?
The book is “Socialism: Utopian and Scientific” written by Friedrich Engels.
WHAT’S ONE THING ON YOUR BUCKET LIST?
One of my aspirations is to travel to space, it is a significant dream I hold. However, I’m uncertain about the possibility of achieving this in the future. Anyway, it’s an item on my bucket list. Perhaps, sometime down the line, as technology advances and various opportunities emerge, space travel could become a reality. That’s the hope.
Álvaro Mier is our Product Manager here at Sparta and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
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