We are very excited to introduce you to Denise Jones, Director of Product for the Barcelona office of ManoMano.
ManoMano is a French start-up which has given itself the mission to revolutionise the general public universe of DIY and Gardening. ManoMano is the internet’s top DIY marketplace and trusted intermediary between you and the sellers who offer products on the site.
1. First can you tell us a bit about your job? What does your company do?
ManoMano is the internet’s top DIY marketplace, operating across 5 EU markets. The company is 5 years old and incredibly successful. Since the pandemic, people have been more motivated to do ‘DIY’ home projects, and sales of paint, gardening items, and home improvement tools are skyrocketing! The company is broken into 3 different sectors, buyers, sellers, and visitors. My role is Director of Product for sellers, who are the third party vendors who participate in the marketplace.
2. What brought you to this area, what’s your background?
I am American and spent most of my career in Seattle where I grew up. I started out working for Microsoft where I was a Developer and engineer for over ten years, and then transitioned to Programme Management. After Microsoft, I worked at Expedia’s Headquarters, and there I put in for my dream transfer to Europe, which still to this day i cannot believe actually happened. I was extremely lucky to have the opportunity to move to London to work for Hotels.com, which is one of Expedia’s 27 online travel brands. After 6 fantastic years it was time for me to move my career on. I still wanted to reside in Europe and always had an eye for Barcelona. I was lucky enough to do this whilst also finding a dream job here at ManoMano. The team is amazing and taking into consideration that I started in March 2020, and had just four days in the office before lockdown, I can honestly say I don’t think I could have picked a better organisation to be part of, it’s amazing!
3. What time does your day start, and what does your typical work day schedule look like?
Normally in Barcelona everything is done socially, that is where the work happens!
My schedule would usually be (without confinement) to arrive at the office around 9.30/10am, work a chunk, go for a social lunch, re group and carry on work. Now being remote (due to pandemic) it is a lot different. There is so much to do, mostly involving Zoom meetings and collaborating. I feel like I step on the gas by 8.30am and don’t stop until late. I do make sure I get my workout scheduled daily which has become my ritual (highly recommend to others to avoid burning out)!
4. What kind of projects are you currently working on?
We have gone from startup to scale-up in a short period, which is a huge transition. For example, we are in the process of a site upgrade in the front end and back end, and installing new business processes. I am responsible from the Product side for the strategy, vision, and coordination of the Seller teams. I have just started a new quarter planning process which commenced this week, creating an entirely new roadmapping system for all the product org across both countries.
5. What do you consider the greatest achievement in your work to date?
I was a developer on one of the original Microsoft teams that wrote Microsoft Search (now Bing), and that was a wild experience. But I love what I do now at ManoMano- I have my dream job, AND I’ve achieved my dream of living abroad. Barcelona is amazing, the food, culture, beaches, it’s perfection!
6. What is the one app you could not live without?
My work life seems to revolve around Zoom and Google Docs, but in lockdown, without WhatsApp and Goodreads, I’d be lost!
7. What’s the best thing about working at ManoMano?
The opportunity to make so much change and positive impact. This is both on a personal and company-wide level. There is so much possibility at ManoMano and everyone really cares about their role, the company, and each other. The company could become one of France’s unicorns (companies worth 1B€)!
8. Where is the after work hangout?
I know of just 1 bar near our office, which I was lucky to go to with a colleague in the 4 days before lockdown commenced- our office is in the Sagrada Familia neighbourhood, which I’m not very familiar with. But there is a huge array of bars, cafes, and restaurants in Barcelona. Bodega Puntual in the Born neighbourhood is my favourite place, and I can’t wait to go there for cava when this lockdown is over!!!
9. Who is your professional role model?
I have had so many role models and mentors throughout my career. However, my amazing friend in Seattle, who I first worked with at a dot-com over 20 years ago, is someone who really inspires me. She had moved to Barcelona in 2007 for Grad school, returned to Seattle a year later, and then became the VP of Product in her company. I feel like if she can be fearless and achieve these things, so can I!
10. What makes Barcelona a good city for technology, startups and diversity?
Much like London, Barcelona feels like everyone is from somewhere else. There is so much diversity, in an amazing Tech centre. It’s a great place for companies to start out.
11. Which tech trends are you most excited about?
Before this role I specialised in data science and machine learning Product management. Misuse of data and these technologies terrifies me. I’m one of those people who believes that the robots will come to kill us all if we’re not careful! But I am so fascinated by the possibilities to improve linguistic and image search using machine learning- we’re working on that at ManoMano to improve our Catalog access.
I’m also amazed by the success of the sudden worldwide adoption of remote working during the pandemic. It really seems to be working, and proves that it’s something companies can do long-term.
12. What are the top 3 qualities you look for in an employer?
- Opportunity – for career, working for different types of tech sectors, for company growth
- People – friendly, energetic, passionate is extremely important to me
- Culture – Barcelona, Catalan Friday early finish. Amazing quality of life
13. And finally, what is the one piece of advice you would give to a tech professional starting out?
Be bold, be confident. Implement positive changes and encourage people to follow.
A mentor once told me ‘A leader without followers is someone just going for a walk’ i always try to not to just go for a walk.