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11 min read

From Computer Science Master to Head of Product Marketing

Interviews | Scholar

Not too long ago, we created a three-part blog series to spotlight the amazing Ukrainian talent within the product marketing community.

We did this to celebrate different experiences and give a platform to important stories that need to be told. Unfortunately, due to the current unrest within Ukraine, many people are having to uproot themselves from their homes, their jobs, their families, and their livelihoods.

Marketing professionals including product marketers, are finding themselves working in roles perhaps similar to those they had in Ukraine, but having to adapt to an entirely new market to sell their products.

This is an extremely challenging task, and the fact it’s being done by these product marketers is no small feat. Their efforts and experiences should be recognized and appreciated.

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If this sounds like something you’ve experienced, we want to encourage you to consider applying to the Scholar Program we have here at Product Marketing Alliance.

If you get accepted, you'll be a part of a free 12-week program that'll help you understand your current market, and kickstart your career. Follow the link to learn more about how to apply to the Scholar Program and the deadlines for applications.

For the third and final installment, we spoke to Lisa Dziuba, Head of Product Marketing at LottieFiles, and focused specifically on:

Lisa’s product marketing journey

Could you please describe what your career journey has looked like up until now?

I’m a product marketing professional with 10 years of experience in an engineering background, with team leadership expertise. I was privileged to lead marketing and product marketing at four amazing tech companies. Among them are:

  • The popular design platform LottieFiles, where I currently work, which is used by 135,000 companies worldwide,
  • $54M-funded Abstract,
  • The fast-growing no-code marketplace WeLoveNoCode, and
  • My own startup Flawless App, which I eventually sold.

My main passion is working on product launches in development and design-focused SaaS companies. My whole career journey was in the tech space, having leadership roles in product marketing, growth, content, and community building. As an ex-founder, I still have this mentality to solve each and every marketing challenge in my way and measure its business impact.

When the war started in Ukraine, I switched to work in a consultancy capacity as a Product Marketing Executive. Currently, I’m helping high-growth startups build marketing and product marketing functions from scratch. Going from zero to one with both a focus on GTM strategy and hands-on execution is something that drives me a lot!

As a Product Marketing Executive at LottieFiles, I created and implemented product marketing playbooks, formed a launch calendar and release process, and helped with two launches. All that in less than three months. In my previous company WeLoveNoCode, I made $3.6M in ARR with a 30% month-over-month growth, heading all marketing initiatives.

Before that, I was leading Developer Marketing for SDK at Abstract, where my main focus was on empowering enterprise uses to build extensions and integration. Abstract bought my own startup Flawless App, where I’ve been responsible for all Go-To-Markets for almost five years!

This mix of marketing achievements led to receiving a prestigious Forbes 30 Under 30 award for talented professionals in the European tech space. Looking back on my journey from Computer Science Master to Head of Product Marketing, I feel very grateful for all the challenges I got because they made me a Product Marketing Leader.

What made Lisa choose this path

What led you to become a PMM? Is there something specific that made you want to choose this path?

I’ve been working in product marketing even before I realized that PMM was my title.

At the very beginning of my career in a large Ukrainian marketing agency, I helped with market assessments, competitive research, usability audits, and sales decks for international companies that operated in Ukraine and Eastern Europe. It felt amazing.

After another year of working in marketing, together with Ahmed Sulaiman, a talented product lead and developer, we decided to begin our own startup together, where I ran all the marketing. It was a risky idea but the more risk you take, the higher the reward.

As a founder, I was running what was the most important for my startup at that point: defining the product value, and bringing this value to the right users via the most appropriate marketing channels. This was crucial for my startup's success in 2015.

Looking back, I was leading all PMM functions for my startup Flawless App, including user and competitors research, positioning, GTM strategy and executions, product and marketing analytics, and constant in-product experimentations.

On top of that, I was in charge of demand generation, direct sales, community-building, and every marketing task which had to be solved. I was learning from my own mistakes, mostly considering myself as a T-shaped marketer who knows product and marketing.

After a few years of working on the Flawless App, we hired our first PMM, Valia Havryliuk, to help scale out GTMs. As a result, we released three products, acquired more than 17,000 developers & designers from companies like Uber, Spotify, and Nike, and built the biggest community of iOS developers on Medium.

Later on, Flawless App was acquired by Abstract, becoming our startup success story.

Was my focus on the PMM direction the right move? Definitely, yes.

What Lisa enjoys most about her role

What do you enjoy most about your role? And has this changed over the course of your career?

I have three favorite parts of product marketing which keep me excited, no matter how many times I’ve already done it:

  • User & market research: It feels like being a detective who finds hidden patterns, unknown users’ motives, and promising market gaps. I also love talking with people.
  • Launching products and building successful GTM machines: It comes with setting up all PMM processes, as well as executing every small part of the process. Defining GTM motion (marketing/sales/product led), value prop, use cases, GTM strategy & launch plan, working with all teams, and enjoying results ⁠— it’s all super thrilling for me!
  • Product testing and experimentation: From changing messaging on the landing page, re-designing onboarding flow, playing with various marketing channels to testing product-market fit hypothesis — all these give fast measurable results!

I love that I always have a chance to work on marketing/product marketing strategy and execution, being very close to users, data, the big company picture, and real results. On top of that, I’ve always enjoyed mentoring my team and helping them grow. Luckily, this hasn't changed over the course of my career.

Some advice for all aspiring product marketers: Don’t be afraid to start as a marketing generalist, taking on product marketing and product management tasks. User research, product launches, and hypothesis testing can also be part of other roles. So the only way to see if you really enjoy the PMM routine is to get stuck in with as many tasks as you can.

The most significant moment in Lisa’s career as a PMM

What has been the most significant moment within your product marketing career? And how has this experience changed or impacted how you make decisions today?

Every product marketing leader has their own superpowers that came through overcoming some significant challenges. My superpowers come from working in high-growth tech startups, where you live under the constant pressure to deliver results NOW.

Thanks to this setup, I mastered how to:

  • Build GTMs that generate revenue (because if they don’t, your startup fails). I felt super proud to grow WeLoveNoCode from $30K to $300K MRR!
  • Marketing for developers and designers with complex technical products (because traditional marketing doesn't work for these audiences).
  • Test, iterate, and pivot (because your positioning, design, and marketing strategy should be always tested and improved).
  • Hire, coach, and lead a marketing team (it’s super hard to hire PMMs in startups, as well as the whole marketing team).

Working in startups made me a PMM leader with a strong bias toward execution and results. Getting things done, whatever goals they were, became part of my work DNA.

Two lessons you should know when starting as a product marketer

For those just starting out in product marketing, can you name the top two lessons you’ve learned throughout your career that you wish you knew when you first started?

Being a PMM newcomer, you should treat every challenge as a valuable lesson for your career. When you work in a very high-speed environment, it’s impossible to avoid mistakes. It’s normal to have them. From my huge list of things I’ve learned over the years, these will be the most relevant for junior professionals:

  • Always run user research. Back in 2015, we released our first product which dramatically failed. We spent one year of development without proper user research, without defining the customer journey, or even having personas. That taught me the importance of knowing your users and their needs.
  • Keep conducting competitive analysis. Somewhere in 2018 a competitor copied our features and added them as their offering (which became pretty successful for them). Doing competitive analysis could mitigate the risk of this happening. This situation taught me the importance of competitive intelligence, competitive differentiation, and the power of product stickiness.

  • Always keep testing. When leading WeLoveNoCode, I saw that most of our marketing funnel conversions were below the average. So I started leading many product marketing optimization initiatives. Together, with the team, we tested the 50+ PM and PMM hypotheses. As a result, we saw up to six times conversion improvements!

All these lessons shaped my understanding of what makes product marketing professionals successful. The only way to learn in any career is to take on as many challenges as possible.

Highlighting those who have had a positive impact on Lisa’s career

Are there any companies or individuals within the product marketing community that have had a positive impact on you that you’d like to highlight?

As someone with interests in marketing, product marketing, growth, and product, I’m grateful to the many amazing people in those communities! Just to name a few bright individuals from whom I learned a lot, both personally and from their content:

Product marketing:

  • Christy Roach, Head of Portfolio & Engagement Product Marketing at Airtable, curates a practical and useful PMM knowledge page on Sharebird.
  • Jeff Hardison, Head of Product Marketing for Calendly, ex for InVision, Clearbit, and HP. I enjoy learning from his content.
  • Nielsen Norman Group: This group is the pioneer of user research, a customer-focused approach, and everything research related. I learned so much from their detailed guides.
  • Product Marketing Alliance with your insightful blog, live events, and courses. It’s really the one-stop shop for everything product marketers need to know.

Growth:

  • Elena Verna, who led growth at Miro, Surveymonkey, and Amplitude. I absolutely love her tips on product-led growth, making pricing models, and growing user retention.
  • Ruslan Nasarenko, a growth marketer with a focus on activation and engagement, currently leading PLG at Vimeo. I’ve known Ruslan since 2015 when he was a marketing mentor for startups, including mine. Since that time Ruslan kept being my mentor on growth.
  • Andrew Chen who led growth teams at Uber is currently working at the prestigious Andreessen Horowitz fund. His blog is full of articles on SaaS, metrics, and user growth.

Product:

  • Pavlo Pedenko, Senior Product Manager at Wise, who’s also worked at the popular Setapp by MacPaw. Pavlo together with Yaroslav Stepanenko, PMM from Setapp, created the Growth Marketing Stage conference and ran a practical podcast for product people.
  • Lenny Lensky with his product-focused newsletter & blog, covering product marketing, positioning, metrics, and much more.

Ukraine’s tech sector

Ukraine’s tech sector is rapidly emerging as one of the largest tech hubs in Europe. What can global companies learn from companies such as these to enhance the quality of their practice?

The Ukrainian tech market is booming, with product companies that’re used by millions of people globally (MacPaw, Grammarly, GitLab, Readdle), high-tech startups (Ajax Systems, Preply, People.ai, airSlate, Petcube), and an enormous tech talent pool.

Ukraine is the go-to place for hiring engineers, with 181 universities with 130,000 new graduating tech professionals each year! The numbers talk for themselves: Ukraine has up to 5,000 tech companies, 1702 startups, and a huge amount of outsourced engineers working in the most prominent companies around the globe!

Ukrainian companies, as well as startups, have an unstoppable desire to become the best in their sector. This desire comes combined with extremely high work performance and an openness to working more and harder.

We, Ukrainians, are ready to go the extra mile and be very creative in achieving desired goals. We hustle, are hardworking, we creatively overcome challenges, and we have a natural desire to support each other: it’s a part of the Ukrainian mentality. Nothing comes easy when you’re a Ukrainian company without an office in San Francisco, an ex-Google team, and millions of dollars in investments.

This drive made Ukrainian tech companies, and the tech sector in general, unstoppable. This mentality to win and succeed is what we also see in the Ukrainian tech sector supporting our military forces right now.

This talented Ukrainian sector is raising millions of dollars in crowdsources funds, and launching national-wide volunteering initiatives. At the same time, the Ukrainian tech sector keeps actively working, supporting our economy, and building awesome projects. I’m proud of my nation, and I’m proud to be Ukrainian.

The evolution of product marketing

How do you see the product marketing role evolving in the near future - are there any key trends or audience segments that you think will transform the industry?

Product marketing is evolving together with the whole tech industry. The most interesting tech trends that’ll shape the PMM role will be:

  • Active adoption of Product-Led and Sales Product-Led Growth will change the way we work on GTM strategy and Sales Enablement. Currently, most of the GTM motions are still marketing and sales-led.
  • Increasing personalization will mean more tailored value props, and UI & UX experience provided during onboarding, email communication, and all steps of the customer journey.
  • Adoption of no-code & low-code tools in product marketing, product management, and marketing functions, will allow PMMs to have fewer dependencies on developers. Even now, no-code Airtable and Coda are the places for product launch planning and PMM documentation (just check these awesome templates from Product Marketing Alliance).

For all product marketing professionals, it’s essential to keep up to date with the new skills required to succeed.

A little more about the Scholar Program

Read in-depth about the program here >

Once a quarter, every quarter, we open the doors to 25 new or aspiring product marketers and put you through a part-time, 12-week program. By the end, you’ll have all the knowledge, tools, and training needed to start a successful career in product marketing.

But it doesn’t stop there.

By being part of our Scholar Program, you’ll automatically be put in front of leading hiring companies, primed to kickstart your career in style.

What you’ll get from us

🔖 Product marketing certification (providing you pass the exams)

👩‍💻 Live, weekly workshops with industry leaders

✅ Marked, practical tasks to test your learning

👣 A platform to build your personal portfolio

🌎 Exposure to some of the world’s biggest brands

🔥 Official accreditation from the industry’s go-to association (aka, us!)

🆓 All of the above for free (worth $3,500 RRP)

Apply for Scholarship


Written by:

Charley Gale

Charley Gale

Charley is the Content Lead at Product Marketing Alliance. She has a passion for creating new content for the community. She's always open to new ideas, so would love to hear from you!

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From Computer Science Master to Head of Product Marketing