Maxim Godzi: “I am confident that through this course we will influence the entire market as a whole”
An interview with Maxim Godzi, instructor of the Data Driven Product Management course. We talked about the mission of the Master's program "Data-Driven Communications", about the unique experience of integrating the online simulator GoPractice into the educational process and the important role of a facilitator.
Learning to manage a product is not an easy task. In the field, this takes years, while the quality of specialists of the same amount of years of experience is very different - it all depends on the team which the person has worked in. If there were other strong experts horizontally and vertically - adequate leaders who rely on data in their decisions and allow us to set important experiments without changing moods and goals on the go, if there were strong analysts, developers, product mentors in direct access, did the scale allow tasks to develop and so on. The task of this master's degree is to give the quintessence of the experience of those who were fortunate enough to form it in the field, to digest, understand and transfer them. Unlike other specialties, it is necessary to transfer the experience of a product manager or analyst not only in the form of ready-made knowledge through lectures, seminars, textbooks and tests, it is important to transfer and develop the necessary skills, and this requires special exercises and simulators.
How is GoPractice integrated into the educational process?
The product management course I teach is central to the curriculum for future product managers. This course is very brief and is designed to get students as deep as possible into product thinking and the core aspects of a product manager managing a product through careful data analysis. At the core of the GoPractice course is precisely as a tool for developing skills and the ability to work with your hands in simulating field conditions. The scope of GoPractice and its focus on a specific example of a B2C business with an application requires a lot of facilitation and development of additional materials on top of the simulator. Therefore, in addition to GoPractice, I added equally important components - analysis of cases and practices on my part, this is given in the format of real-life work on business models, discussions of key metrics of the unit economy of products, analysis of differences between different types of business models and types of products. In addition, practical exercises with case studies and magazine clubs within the course are important components.
What other educational formats do you use?
The course also includes topics on project management practices, development prioritization, recruiting and coaching a product team, and other important aspects of professional career development. The work on the cases simulates the work in the customer-performer mode. When students prepare and present a case, they train to find and formulate a task, convey the essence of the task to the performer and motivate to take the task to work. When they solve a case, they train to accept the task, immerse themselves in it, prepare and present the results in a short time. Working on the Journal Club reports allows students to learn how to independently find the necessary information, structure it, extract useful methods and results from it, while distinguishing the present and the important from the non-essential. Through reports at Journal Club seminars, the future product specialist learns to communicate important insights to his colleagues convincingly and clearly, engaging them in the content, not simplifying, but clarifying the material and giving it the necessary critical assessment. Everyone around is talking about critical thinking, but few teach it. At the Journal Club at UPENN, where I was doing research in 2014-2017, this skill was built up by researchers and graduate students, and this is a good practice, this practice was fully transferred to this course.
How do you assess the level of students?
As I am launching the course, I am very pleased to see how strong and highly competitive the students in the current cohort are. Questions and comments during the analysis of difficult questions at the seminars show that many of them already have their own practical experience and clearly understand what skills and knowledge they need for further career development. This is the most productive situation and I am sure that through this course we will influence not only this cohort of specialists, but the entire market as a whole.