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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Getting Ahead

Here's What It Takes to Be a Product Superhero, From Someone Who Knows Firsthand

Product management is all about innovation: driving the creation of new products that make people's lives better. But what does it take to be a successful product manager, and how does a top product executive get to where they are?

To learn more, we talked with Stefano Sassu, SVP of Product at The Muse. Sassu is responsible for the development of all products within The Muse portfolio. Here, he talks about problem solving, what excites him most about his work, and the qualities he looks for when he's hiring someone for his team. Get inspired by his story and then check out open jobs at The Muse.

First, tell us something not everyone in the office knows about you.

I love to travel, read, and cook. But what I love even more is to eat! One day I want to live the simple life on an island. But, there has to be coffee. I love coffee and cannot live without it.

Tell us about your background.

I am a product executive with 20 years of experience leading profitable growth in the direct to consumer and business to business sectors. I help accelerate startups’ growth, and build and expand new businesses.

I’ve held senior positions in general management, product development, and strategy. I’ve been successful in these roles because I’m passionate about consumer satisfaction, and I’m driven and willing to make strategic decisions and execute on those quickly.

Here at The Muse, I’m responsible for product strategy, design, and development of all products within The Muse portfolio. My primary objective is to identify growth opportunities, drive innovation, and increase profit level.

What drew you to The Muse? How did you know it was going to be a good fit?

Millions of job-seekers are overwhelmed and frustrated with the job search process, and I’ve been there at different points in my career. I was frustrated by the lack of communication from employers, difficulty getting in touch with people making hiring decisions, and especially finding the right fit. Joining The Muse was a great opportunity for me to help solve this problem for all the job-seekers out there.

What are you working on right now that excites or inspires you?

We have plenty of new products and features in the making that really excite me. The one I am the most passionate about is a project geared toward improving the candidate experience and enabling job seekers to easily assess whether a company would be a good fit for them.

To make it happen I’m working very closely with both employers and job-seekers to understand what the pain points are in the process and identify great opportunities to make the job search and hiring experience much more streamlined and exciting for both parties.

How do you tackle problems or potential hurdles when they arise?

I am very passionate about solving problems that people face on a daily basis. I typically tackle a problem by engaging directly with our users and clients. I look at the entire user experience, identify challenges, and break problems down into smaller pieces.

Through qualitative and quantitative data, I then try to figure out how our products and features can make people’s lives easier. I come up with a hypothesis and test it with real users before launching any new product into the market. It’s always fascinating to see how people interact with your products.

What qualities do you look for when deciding to bring a new person onto your team?

There are a few. This is a quick summary of the questions I ask myself and the applicant to assess if they are a product superhero or not:

Values: How do they make decisions in their everyday life? Do they care about others?

Attitude: Are they open to learning from those around them and willing to explore new paths, views, and opportunities?

Drive: Are they able to think big and dream a product up to a ridiculous scale, then multiply it by 100, and work backwards to determine how to make it happen?

Analytical: Are they interested in digging into the numbers while understanding how people are interacting with the product they are managing?

Ambition: When they don’t have an answer for something, do they seek different ways to get that answer?

Communication: Most importantly, do they listen to their customers?

What is your ultimate career goal? How will you get there?

My goal is to continue to bring great products and services to consumers, and to share future successes with great teams. I am excited about the future and, as a product executive, I will continue to try my best to bring innovative ideas to life that will change people’s lives and behaviors. Stay tuned!