Meet Product Operations people: Trish Ogbinar – Senior Product Operations Manager at Pinterest

Customer Experience

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At Idiomatic, we work with amazing Product Operations teams as our customers. Product Operations is a relatively new function. If you’d like to learn about what Product Operations is about, here’s an informative interview with Trish Ogbinar – Senior Product Operations Manager at Pinterest

Could you please tell us about your background and how you ended up in the Product Operations team at Pinterest? 

Of course! My career was always in tech, but my roles varied as I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do after I graduated. I started out as an Account Manager for a few startups. With the nature of the startup world, I wore many hats, oftentimes being the ‘technical expert’ and honing the skill of translating tough technical concepts to marketing teams. 

I eventually made the move into operations due to a strategic partnership with a previous company I worked for and Google, leading Operations and Engineering teams from execution to completion while working closely with COO to create advertising copy. This was my first taste into Product where I was helping navigate and suggest changes to our existing products while working with Billing, Community and Marketing to bring the project to the finish line. This experience really led me to looking into Product and what that means as a career. 

At Pinterest, I started as a Support Specialist, engaging with our users on the  front lines. I moved to Product Specialist, which seemed like a natural progression of my technical expertise and user advocacy. At first, I focused on a specific product, and as my expertise grew, I’ve moved to my current role as a Sr. Product Operations Manager. Here, I’m fully immersed with Product and many other teams at Pinterest. Blending my support background and Product experience really helps inform what I do today, advising, advocating, shaping strategy and sharing insights. 

What do you like most about your role? 

I get to work with so many teams across Pinterest and really be that ‘bridge’ between strategic projects and launches. There’s always something new to learn and people to partner with—there’s never a dull moment! I’m inspired by contributing to changes, launching new features and learning how people find their own unique ways to build the life they love. 

As the Senior Product Operations Manager at Pinterest, what’s an average work day or week like for you? 

Average workday? There really isn’t. New products, insights, ideas, and bringing perspective to how they take form is a new endeavor each time. We’ve got some great processes— but I’m always adjusting my approach to what’s needed for an idea, team, or our users. That’s why I love it, and it can be so fun and challenging at the same time. 

When we launch a big, new feature, I work closely with Product and Product Marketing to align on our roadmap as we get closer to 100% launch. At the same time, I’m sharing important details so that they’re informed, prepared, and ready with all workflows to enable a smooth entry to market.

There are days or weeks when I am fully in meetings, simply due to the scope of the Product Operations role where we not only have to pay attention to what is coming down the pipeline from Product but also listening to user sentiment from our User Services teams. Since Product Operations acts as that ‘bridge’, we need to listen and communicate with all teams so that information is always flowing in between. 

Another key contribution I focus on is sharing strategic insights to provide to Product or our leadership. That can be dissecting user inquiries or looking at trends on the Idiomatic dashboard. I partner with other teams that may also have pockets of insights to create a holistic user perspective analysis and recommend actionable change. The impact varies from roadmap creation, prioritization of engineering allotment for bug fixing, and pivots on initial product requirements. User insights are so critical to make sure that the products we launch are informed, impactful, and put our users first.

What are some of the tools you use in your day to day? 

Idiomatic is definitely one of them. Product Managers, Research and Engineering often ask about user sentiment throughout our entire product lifecycle— From pre to post launch, and often during moments in between. Having a pulse on what users are saying is so important, so we rely on Idiomatic to showcase what our users are saying both at a high level through charts over time and trends while also pulling out important quotes so that other teams can empathize and understand the users. 

How does the Product Operations team work with the Product team?

Product Operations partner hand in hand with the Product team. While we are a cross-functional team, we are those additional sets of hands that help with launch readiness while also ensuring that the feature is ready for our users. Providing that user perspective is key. As Product teams build out new features, we flag any potential risks or blockers to launch so that when the feature is ready, it’s not only easy to use but also a great experience for the user. 

Which other teams within Pinterest do you work closely with?

I work with so many other teams, which could range from Product Marketing, Help and Education to Trust and Safety just to name a few. This really could be anyone in the company as long as the product that is coming down the pipeline is relevant to their workflow. This is why our team makes sure to build as many connections as possible and thinks of all the different ways that an upcoming product can affect our users from finding resources if they have a question, knowing how to report untrustworthy content to ensuring that support is ready to answer any troubleshooting questions. 

Why is it important for Pinterest to have a Product Operations team besides a Product team?

Product and Product Operations do very different things. Think about it like a car and its navigation system. The car has a direction and moves in a way that’s fast and steady. The driver knows where they want to go, and when—That’s Product. The navigation tells them if they can expect a slowdown, alternate routes, real time updates, and anything to look out for— That’s Product Operations.

Product Operations bring perspective, representation, and data driven information to help inform Product Management. So, it’s kind of like asking why we need maps when we have drivers. We need both. Product to deliver successful, well adopted features. Product Operations synthesizes user, operational, and other insights to inform Product of potential pitfalls, opportunities, and pivots. We also make sure the internal teams that support the work are prepared, informed, and consulted.

Collaboration between all those different teams leads to an innovative, safe and Pinterest aligned product that is created for the user in mind. 

For someone who would like to make the transition to a Product Operations role, what advice would you give? 

Every team works differently, just like every person is different. Knowing when to be flexible versus implementing structure is key when it comes to Product Operations. I would also add to always listen. Since Product Operations is that in between many teams across the company, paying attention and listening is important so you can better understand what other teams’ priorities are while bridging that gap so that a product is as ready as it can be for people, leading to a smooth, seamless launch.