18 March 2022
Diary of a Product Owner
Tell us about yourself and your role
I am a Product Owner within the IMG ARENA Data Ops team, a product team based in Chiswick, London. Our work involves making the front-end Event Centres come to life, by ensuring we give sufficient data points. Whilst the Event Centres are stereotypically the more exciting part, I also work on the data feeds for our Digital Data Exchange, providing accurate data for any front-end application.
As a Product Owner I get to interact with many departments within IMG ARENA. I ensure that we are constantly developing and innovating, managing the backlog, as well as liaising with key stakeholders about our progress. An essential element of my role is working alongside the Product Manager outlying the long-term road map and creating a schedule that manages both our capacity and our promise.
Tell us a bit about your career history, what made you want to go into this type of role?
When I was 11 my dad got my brothers and I a Commodore 64, the great thing about old machines like these is that the instruction manual gave really good insights into basic programming. So, whilst I was playing Batman, I was also avidly reading the manual and learning how to develop games. This early fascination in working out the mechanics of the machine fuelled my interest in programming. At school I studied Computing and Maths at A-Levels, continuing on to read Computer Science at Kent University and Information Systems at Brunel University London. After university I secured my first job as a website multimedia author but continued to make games in my spare time, which is what lead me to eventually break into the gaming industry.
My 5 years (and counting) product journey started within e-commerce delivery, which helped me to decide that I enjoyed product but not e-commerce! This led me to focus on finding a role combining both my interests, product and gaming, where I landed a role as a product manager at a games company. After gaining a wealth of experience I went on to lead the product management team at a software company helping them to innovate and grow their product portfolio. It is from there that I secured the role I am in now at IMG ARENA.
In addition to gaming, I’m also passionate about sports. This is what drew me to IMG ARENA, the role combined all my interests and where I could work to elevate the sporting experience with data. I have always been genuinely interested in the sports space because you’re providing a real-life experience where people can follow their heroes and mentors across their favourite sports.
What is the best part about your role? How would you sum it up in three words?
The best bit of my role so far is the ability to think out loud and being given the autonomy to shape your own future. I work closely with the product director and product leadership team, giving me the opportunity to suggest product features to improve the overall experience, which isn’t always the case in other organisations.
Of the places I’ve worked in the past, IMG ARENA has already shown me that it has the most enthusiasm in terms of how it can grow and its future vision. The saying ‘The world is your oyster’ definitely springs to mind! You are given trust and the space to voice your ideas, providing you with confidence to be the driver of your own career.
So, I think as a place to work it’s fun and inspiring, which is why I would sum up my role as exciting, autonomous, and influential.
Tell us about an exciting project you’re working on at the moment.
One exciting project that my team is working on is our media project, brining to life our sports data within the media space. We are working on an Automated Text Commentary Product Feed which, for example, uses data driven golf insights to showcase insightful text commentary and analytics to fans. By providing accessible high-level data like never before, this will enhance the way fans engage with sports, driving engagement and interest in the sports they already love.
What advice would you give to someone who is looking to make a career in a similar role?
I would say have an open mind, both in terms of what you learn and where and who you can keep learning from. If you’re interested in something, then really look deep into it and learn it as much as you can; don’t pigeonhole your expertise into one area such as product or development, try to build a broader understanding of the area you want to go into, from the development right down to the strategic side.
💡 Do you have any ideas for other products you would like to see IMG ARENA producing in years to come?
I have had a few conversations with the team about which rights we are acquiring and bidding for, as we work with some great sports, but I think we could also do well in certain other sports, like athletics and Formula One for example.
However, I would also like to continue innovating our offering in our media space. It would be good to see more storytelling, showcasing the behind-the-scenes within the world of sports.