In this series, we invite you to meet the exceptional individuals driving the success of Sparta. Today, we turn the spotlight on Laura Fernández, our talented Product Manager.
Discover the person behind the scenes who plays a vital role in shaping our innovative products. Learn about Laura’s motivations, her expertise in product management, and the invaluable contributions she brings to our operations.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN WITH THE COMPANY?
I joined this company in February 2021, so it’s been two and a half years now.
When I first joined, we were just a small team. So, you can imagine there has been more than changes since I joined.
CAN YOU EXPLAIN YOUR ROLE
Yeah, my role in product management is multi-dimensional as it involves various aspects. I oversee the development and management of some of our products, working closely with the developers. This requires a deep understanding of the product lifecycle, from conceptualization to launch and beyond, incorporating user feedback.
My role also involves ensuring that the product meets the needs of our users by translating those needs into product features and improvements. To achieve this, I collaborate with different teams within the organisation, including sales and customer success. This collaboration helps me and one of the other product managers make strategic decisions regarding feature development and the product roadmap.
HOW DID YOU GET STARTED IN THE INDUSTRY?/CAN YOU GIVE ME A RUNDOWN OF YOUR CAREER PATH UP UNTIL THIS POINT?
Sure! The commodities industry is relatively new to me. I began my career in quality assurance as a manual tester, which gave me a solid foundation in understanding the importance of delivering high-quality products. I then transitioned into a product management role, where I further developed my skills in managing the product lifecycle and understanding customer needs. However, my journey into the commodities industry began when I joined this company in 2021, about two and a half years ago.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE PART OF WORKING AT OUR COMPANY?
One of the things that initially attracted me to this company, during the interviews, was the opportunity to be part of something innovative and game-changing in the commodities industry. I also appreciate the freedom and responsibility given to us to achieve our goals. On top of this, the people here are all amazing individuals who are always ready to collaborate and help get things done.
WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF IN YOUR CAREER SO FAR?
I would say my ability to adapt and grow in different roles throughout my career. Starting from quality assurance to product management and then entering the commodities industry, I have embraced each new opportunity as a learning experience.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE OUR COMPANY CULTURE?
To keep it simple, I would say our company culture is characterized by transparency, ambition, collaboration, and a strong customer-centric focus.
WHAT’S ONE THING PEOPLE DON’T KNOW ABOUT YOU THAT THEY WOULD BE SURPRISED TO FIND OUT?
Many people might be surprised to know that I studied and danced ballet for 10 years. It taught me discipline, precision, and the importance of practice, all of which I apply in my professional life today.
WHAT PIECE OF ADVICE TO YOUR YOUNGER SELF?
I would advise my younger self to embrace every learning opportunity, not be afraid to step out of my comfort zone and take on new challenges. I would also emphasize not underestimating myself because I am more powerful than I think.
HOW HAS YOUR ROLE EVOLVED OVER TIME SINCE YOU’VE BEEN HERE?
When I first joined, I started as a QA tester, working closely with the CPO. After a year, I transitioned into the product management role, which broadened my understanding of product quality aspects. This change allowed me to better comprehend and improve the product lifecycle process.
Interestingly, the other product manager here also started as a QA, so having that background has been beneficial for both of us, especially in terms of quality management.
WHAT’S THE MOST INTERESTING PROJECT YOU HAVE WORKED ON HERE?
One of the most interesting projects I worked on was the release of a whole new vertical, diesel, towards the end of last year. It was a complex process with a tight deadline. At that time, two teams came together to work on it full-time. Seeing the successful implementation and its impact on our company was truly satisfying.
WHAT IS ONE THING YOU WISH THAT PEOPLE KNEW ABOUT YOUR JOB?
I wish people knew that being a Product Manager is not just about managing the product lifecycle. It involves understanding customer needs, collaborating with various teams within the company, and making strategic decisions. It’s a blend of technical knowledge, strategic thinking, and people skills.
WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS FOR THE NEXT FEW MONTHS/YEARS?
In the short term, I aim to continue learning about the commodities industry and enhance my product management skills. In the long term, I aspire to become a product leader.
IF YOU HAD THREE WISHES, WHAT WOULD THEY BE?
Well, one typical wish would be the opportunity to travel around the world and explore new cultures and experiences. Another wish would be to start my own company and be my own boss. Lastly, it would be to never have to worry about money and just enjoy life.
WHAT’S ONE THING THAT SURPRISED YOU ABOUT YOUR CURRENT ROLE?
One thing that surprised me about my current role is the level of cross-functional collaboration it involves. It requires a deep understanding of the business and the ability to bring different perspectives together to create products that meet customer needs. It can be challenging to reconcile the user needs, expert opinions, platform analytics, and customer success feedback, as they can sometimes be quite different. However, finding the right balance and delivering a better product for our users is rewarding.
WHAT’S THE LAST SONG YOU LISTENED TO?
The last song I listened to was “Grow as We Go” by Ben Platt.
WHAT, IF ANYTHING, ARE YOU CURRENTLY BINGE-WATCHING OR READING?
Currently, I’m not reading much, but I’m waiting for the next season of Stranger Things. In the meantime, I just finished watching “The Afterparty” on Apple TV+.
In terms of binge-watching, I’m rewatching past episodes of Modern Family and Succession.
WHAT’S ONE THING ON YOUR BUCKET LIST?
One thing on my bucket list is to take a trip to Greece. Not the typical tourist spots, but to explore lesser-known places. I’ll need to do some research to plan it properly, I won’t have time this year but next year I will I have time to make it happen.
Laura is part of our product team here at Sparta and can be contacted at email@example.com
Sparta is a live, pre trade analytics platform that enables oil traders, refiners, banks, hedge funds and wholesalers to have access to real-time and global actionable insights to capture market opportunities before others.
To find out how Sparta can allow you to make smarter trading decisions, faster, contact us for a demonstration at firstname.lastname@example.org