As Senior Product Manager, Macdara is accountable for end-to-end delivery of significant new product capabilities and, ultimately, for the commercial performance of MTT’s products. His key responsibilities include managing a set of products and services related to the mobile experience for global travel brands; defining market and business requirements; developing business cases; evangelising MTT products, and performing competitive win/loss analysis.
Macdara had several reasons for embarking on the Postgraduate Diploma in Product Management, followed by the MSc programme. First, effective Product Management is absolutely key to MTT scaling annual revenues, and thus achieving its strategic business objectives. Second, he felt the postgraduate and MSc. programmes would give him a greatly enhanced skill set and different frameworks that he could apply either when interacting with customers in some of the world’s most prestigious companies, or when leading his own cross-functional teams of designers, analysts and engineers.
In terms of his first objective, he has no doubt that his new-found skills and knowledge are already enabling him and his team to create even more innovative products that clients will be willing to pay more for, thus driving profitable growth. With regard to acquiring new knowledge and skills – and specifically the objective of promoting a thought leadership culture within MTT – he says that after he started the Postgraduate Diploma he initiated in-house knowledge-sharing sessions. As a result, every fortnight, his MTT colleagues take turns either presenting a topic on a product management-related issue covered by one of Macdara’s course lecturers, or discussing a paper that an MTT colleague discovered during their own research activities.
With regard to his own personal development, Macdara says he is now better at multi-tasking, handling several streams of activity simultaneously – something he attributes to the structured project management module on the programme.
“The Innovation and Technology management module emphasises the importance of understanding the problems and pain points of your customers, and then bringing that back to the team here and saying ‘Let’s focus on the problem and the need – the customer outcome’. In engineering-led companies there’s a strong temptation to rush to the solution, to get lost in technology. Successful companies have insights about people’s needs way before their competitors have them.
“The module on Negotiation and Communication helps you focus on how to communicate upwards in an organisation – the Product Management brief is wide and involves huge dependencies on other functions in the company. The module helps you focus on priorities and manage competing demands on your time.”
Apart from the knowledge imparted by product management thought leaders from the US, South Africa and further afield, he says that some of the other outstanding benefits of the programme are the networking opportunities it provides. “The peer network is brilliant. We share experiences, discuss how particular problems were solved, look at systems used in other companies, steer each other towards useful tools and resources. As well as that, if one of our companies is hiring, other people in the class may offer recommendations, or provide references.
“For high-level networking, the programme is invaluable. For example, the fact that I was carrying out research for the course enabled me to obtain interviews with CEOs and technology software leaders – people I would not have had an opportunity to meet otherwise.”
Would Macdara recommend the programme to colleagues? “Yes, I already have.”