Hey Hayley👋 Can you tell us a bit about your background?
I’ve been a Product Manager for around 7 years now. I started my career on a graduate scheme at a large supermarket brand, before switching into tech.
I knew I wanted to move into a smaller company that was fast-moving, and ended up working at Gousto, a food delivery service. I found the pace of being in a smaller company really addictive.
I then moved to Barcelona and worked for another delivery-focussed company called Glovo. While I was there I was working in the Fintech side of things, working on fighting financial fraud.
I’ve recently moved back to the UK, starting my role with Cleo in March - I’m now approaching my third month with Cleo!
What made you make the switch into fintech, more specifically Cleo?
At Glovo, I was working on their fintech offerings, which interested me. I knew I wanted something more specifically fintech-focussed. The thing I love about fintech is the vast amount of customer data that you can work with to make smarter decisions, which as a Product Manager is exactly what we want.
I chose to join Cleo because I wanted to work on something that’s actually making an impact on people’s lives. Cleo’s mission of empowering people to build a life beyond a paycheck really stood out to me. I also love that Cleo is still a small company, with around 200 employees. We are still in the relatively early stages of shaping the product offering, which gives me and my squad the opportunity to be creative with the products and features we’re building.
At the time I was interviewing with Cleo, I was also interviewing with a few different companies. Cleo’s interview process stood out as it was very clearly centred around getting to know me as a person, as well as diving deeper into my PM skillset. It sounds silly but not every company does this at interview stage so it was refreshing that all of my interviewers, whether PM’s or not, had a clear understanding of a PM’s role at Cleo.
The task stage in particular was really enjoyable - unlike some tasks which you could spend hours preparing for, Cleo’s task stage was an hour-long interview with the VP Product where I was given the opportunity show my creative ways of thinking.
I also really appreciated that my interviewers came from diverse backgrounds, it highlighted to me that Cleo is a company that cares about diversity and is somewhere that I’d like to work.
How have you found your first couple of months?
Through starting various different roles in the past, I’ve learned how I like to approach my onboarding phase. Before I joined, my manager reached out to me and I asked him nicely to not pack out my calendar in the first few weeks, as I like to have time to read through documentation and think about how things will impact my role.
At Cleo, almost everything is documented in Notion, which is super easy to navigate! So, I spent the first couple of weeks diving into various documents, and making my way around the team having 121 chats. There are also various introduction sessions with each team at Cleo, which are spread out over your firs 6-8 weeks, which was nice as I had time to digest the information rather than trying to take it in all at once.
We are made up of engineers, designers and analysts, and we lead on Payments & Security Experience for our users. Essentially, we try to look for way to improve the subscription offering and repayment experience so that customers love using Cleo.
We’ve recently shipped a feature called partial repay, where customers can pay back advances in smaller amounts when they cannot afford to pay in one go.
Has anything surprised you since joining?
I wouldn’t say this is surprising, but I love that everyone at Cleo is very strong in their roles. As a PM, having a strong team with confidence in their skillsets is great for collaboration. I’ve found that there’s a high level of ownership and initiative within the squad, and everyone is very proactive so things can move quickly.
As Cleo is still finding Product Market fit to some extent, the environment can be very fast-changing, so it’s important for new PM’s to be comfortable with chance and able to be reactive.
What are you finding most challenging?
Initially I thought it would be challenging to understand the needs of our users, who are mostly US-based, as most of our squad members are based in the UK or across Europe. The app is also unavailable to new users in the UK.
However, I’ve managed to sign myself up to a test version of the app so I can check it out for myself, and we also have regular updates from our US colleagues in All Hands on societal trends in the US. These sessions are incredibly useful for understanding the problems that are users are facing - recently we’ve had sessions about the healthcare system and student debt.
Our User Research team also run bi-weekly Researchers’ Guide to the Galaxy sessions to communicate research findings with the whole company.
Do you have any advice for people looking to apply for a Product role at Cleo?
A few quick thoughts:
- To be a successful PM at Cleo you should have buckets full of initiative, as the landscape is constantly evolving to suit the needs of our users.
- Be ready to put your own stamp on things. Joining a scale-up like Cleo comes with the opportunity to shape what the product can look like in the next 3-5 years.
- If you’re successful in getting an interview - just be yourself! The interview process has an informal feel, so just relax into it to get the most out of the process.
If you’re interested in joining Cleo as a PM, check out our open roles!