Inside Guidewire: Gilbert's Journey

Embarking on a new role can be a busy time! Senior Technical Product Manager, Gilbert, recently joined our San Mateo HQ. In today's blog, he demystifies the onboarding process and how he ramped up within his first few weeks in our Product Development and Operations department.

In March 2024, I officially joined the Product Management Cloud Platform team at Guidewire. This marks my sixth adventure in the ever-evolving world of Cloud and AI technology.  Leveraging 25 years of experience across diverse organizations, I'm thrilled to be here. With a background spread across both industry giants and starts-ups, my career journey has been rich and rewarding. Now, I'm excited to tackle new and exciting challenges at Guidewire! The foundations for success in my first few weeks were:

  1. New hire orientation: A session packed with everything you need to feel like a full-fledged rockstar. This included a welcome email loaded with resources, apps information and access to conquer any challenge.

  2. A step-by-step recipe for product mastery: This ensured a solid grasp of the product, our customers, their needs (present and future!), and the areas where our engineering team could create the biggest positive impact.

  3. And of course, the best part was the welcoming team! My manager, the PMs, engineers, architects, and the broader management team  – everyone is not only incredibly helpful and welcoming, but also boasts some serious knowledge and tech skills.

Ready to dig deeper? Keep scrolling!

Week 1: The kick off

During my first week I settled in, met some amazing colleagues, and got prepped with the knowledge and tools needed to hit the ground running. Here's a glimpse of how my week looked:

  • Welcome to Guidewire: The New Hire Orientation was a fantastic introduction into all things Guidewire. It equipped me with everything I needed to settle in smoothly. We dove in tools I'd be using and benefits I'd get to enjoy (think health insurance, time off, and more!). Beyond orientation, the warm welcome from my team and manager was a highlight. My manager provided a wealth of important information to get me started and answered all the initial questions I had. This personal touch made a big difference in feeling comfortable and prepared for my first week.

  • Fuelling Up & Fun: A team intro in the format of a lunch together was the perfect chance to bond with my new colleagues over delicious food and laughter.

  • Tech Time: The amazing and helpful IT team got my computer and phone all set up and ready to go. Huge thanks!

  • Course Charting: A comprehensive resource toolkit that got me up to speed fast. This included team Confluence pages, my own personalized onboarding plan, and other essential documentation you need in your journey.

  • First Mission: After thoroughly reviewing the product documentation, I took a customer-centric approach by completing the product setup process and running a full end-to-end use case to experience its capabilities firsthand.

Gilbert's Inside Guidewire Blog, week one lunch with Product Development teammates

Week 2: Taking Off

My second week was all about exploring to the world of Guidewire. I was equipped with the knowledge and context I needed to become a valuable contributor. Here's what I focused on during this week:

Navigating the Roadmap:

  • I reviewed the company's 2024 goals. This gave me a clear picture of our overall plan and how our work contributes to the bigger picture.

  • I explored the existing Product Roadmap. Gaining a bird's-eye view of the team's current commitments helped me understand the features we aim to deliver.

  • Once I had gained a good understanding of the roadmap and customer needs, it was time to tackle the backlog. I worked with my team to evaluate these items and initiate an effective prioritization.

Customer Connection:

  • I joined the main product Slack channel, where I was in the middle of customer conversations. Analyzing their questions and requests – this was a goldmine of insights!

  • From here, I started to identify recurring themes. Are there any knowledge gaps in our documentation or common customer pain points we can address? This intel will be crucial later.

  • I began setting up customer discussions and meet ups. This allowed me to connect with real customers, understand their needs directly, and build valuable relationships.

Teamwork: I was integrated into the daily rhythm, attending standup meetings, sprint planning sessions, and retrospectives. These sessions are vital for staying aligned, discussing progress, and learning from past experiences.

Insights: I showcased my analysis of the Slack channel, highlighting key data points, observations, and recommendations. This was a fantastic opportunity to share my newfound knowledge and propose solutions for identified customer concerns.

Week 3: Gaining “Altitude”

My third week was all about reaching new heights with the product. Key activities that helped me gain a deeper understanding and elevate our customer focus were:

  • Journey Mapping: I created a comprehensive product roadmap for the calendar year, establishing a clear picture of our vision, broken down into actionable steps.

  • Product Champion: To showcase the product's capabilities, I developed a presentation for our PM Team. It covered an introduction, an end-to-end demo, user personas, key features, and the exciting product roadmap we've established.

  • Closing the Feedback Loop: Following through on insights gleaned from the previous week's product Slack channel analysis, I actively addressed action items raised by our customers.

  • Closer to the Customer: Collaborating with the team, I became the dedicated point of contact for our customer-facing Slack channel. This closer interaction allowed for real-time understanding of customer needs and concerns.

  • Voice of our Users: To capture detailed customer feedback, I created an online survey to garner feedback on aspects like product satisfaction, support model effectiveness, customer pain points, and feature priorities – both current and future. In tandem with this, I conducted customer interviews. These in-depth conversations provided valuable insights that complemented the information gathered through our survey.

By proactively engaging with these initiatives, I gained significant momentum in my understanding of the product and its users. This customer-centric approach will be instrumental in shaping the product's future success.

Gilbert Inside Guidewire Blog. San Mateo Office

Week 4: Cruising through the “Clouds”

My forth week was all about navigating the valuable insights gathered from our customer outreach. Below is the journey of activities that helped us unlock customer needs and refine our product strategy.

  • Decoding the Feedback: A flood of responses poured in from our product survey. After meticulously cleaning and analyzing the data, I transformed it into a clear presentation. It unpacked key findings such as top customer concerns, feature requests, and overall sentiment. The insights were shared and presented to the team, ensuring everyone is aligned with customer priorities.

  • Charting the Course with the Team: Building upon customer feedback and in close collaboration with the team, we tackled product backlog refinement and participated in the product sprint planning session. This collaborative approach will ensure our development efforts are tightly aligned with customer priorities.

  • Shifting Gears to Community Focus. We identified the power of a community-driven approach, so we explored transitioning interruption-based support channel to a more collaborative model.

  • Strengthening Alliances: Following our customer interviews and discussions, I delved deeper into engagement with key internal partners. This included fostering closer collaboration with other teams. By establishing strong relationships, we can ensure a smooth and comprehensive product experience for all stakeholders.

By diligently processing customer feedback, working closely with the team, and strengthening partner relationships, I effectively navigated the "clouds" of customer needs. The efforts of these first couple of weeks will provide us with the necessary fuel to propel our product forward.

What’s Next?

Here's a glimpse of the what’s next for me:

  • Product Tech Talk: I am collaborating with the team to prepare a comprehensive tech talk for our customers to showcase the product's current and upcoming features.

  • Shaping the Future: I’ll be gearing up for the quarterly planning sessions where we'll prioritize and define product outcomes. Those sessions promise an engaging exploration of product strategy, capabilities, and investment opportunities.

  • Customer Success Champion: In my ongoing pursuit of elevated customer success, I am exploring innovative solutions. This includes collaborating with key members from our Cloud Platform Team to investigate the potential of Generative AI for automating and expediting customer needs.

  • Continuous Growth: Delving into my goal setting for the year ahead and mapping out a personalized roadmap for my continuous development within my team.

My journey at Guidewire has been incredibly rewarding I'm energized by the prospect of tackling new product challenges alongside my current product and my amazing team. I strongly believe the same steps and procedures outlined above provide a framework for success on any product. I can't wait to see the impact it will make!

Inspired by Gilbert's exciting first month with our Product Development team? Level up your tech career, see our open roles here for Product Development and Operations, and follow #InsideGuidewire on social media to see what our unique culture has in store for you.

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