Due to the current conflict in Ukraine, sadly, many people have had to uproot their lives and move to a completely different environment, meaning a disruption in careers, home lives, and much more.
What this means now is that Ukrainian marketing professionals are having to start over in markets completely unfamiliar to them - which can have a huge impact on how they navigate their new roles.
If you're a product marketer who has been affected by the conflict in Ukraine or are struggling to find your way up the PMM ladder for different circumstances, please 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.
In the meantime, we’ve created this three-part interview series to raise awareness, give support to, and spotlight the amazing Ukrainian talent we currently have within the product marketing industry.
In the first installment, we spoke with Elizabeth Shcherbakova, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Depop about her experience in the industry, including:
- Her product marketing journey,
- What made her choose this path,
- What product marketing looks like in Ukraine,
- What she enjoys most about her role,
- The most significant moment in her career,
- Two things you should know about being a PMM,
- Spotlighting those who’ve had an impact on her career,
- Ukraine’s tech sector, and
- The evolution of product marketing.
Elizabeth’s product marketing journey
Could you please describe what your career journey has looked like up until now?
My transition to product marketing happened in the UK when I worked at Skyscanner. I joined as Growth Manager and was driving the growth of Skyscanner in EMEA markets.
When COVID-19 hit Europe, there was a need to rethink new market realities. We were launching many new features to meet travelers’ needs in a new reality, and I moved to the product marketing team to assist with it.
Before that, back in Ukraine, I worked in many marketing roles that didn’t have product marketing as a title but was doing similar jobs.
For example, I worked on Go-to-Market (GTM) for mobile apps in a Telco company (Kyivstar, Veon) and my role officially was called “E-business Manager”. My role was partially Product Manager, Marketing Manager, and Growth Manager. Now, I know that product marketers wear many hats, so in some form, it was a product marketing role as well.
Before that, I worked in Room 8 Group, a Ukrainian company that provides game development services to the largest global game dev publishers.
My role was called ‘Marketing Manager’, but as part of it, I worked on the product positioning, creation of marketing and sales materials, website content, sales decks, etc. So in that sense, I completed roles and responsibilities affiliated with product marketing then, as well
What made Elizabeth choose this path
What led you to become a product marketer? Is there something specific that made you want to choose this path?
I really like how close this role is to product/business decision-making and how cross-functional it is. I worked in a crossover of marketing and product for a while, because I’m the most curious about it, but only a couple of years ago I finally found out what the role of my heart is called.
What product marketing looks like in Ukraine
The product marketing role looks different in many countries. For example, the United States is very involved and seems to be the larger product marketing community - our State of Product Marketing report 2021 showed that the majority (66%) of our participants were from the USA, and only 27% were from Europe.
Do many people work as product marketers in Ukraine? Is it a common job title?
In Ukraine, you’re more likely to find professionals that we consider in the UK or US as product marketers under the titles ‘B2B Marketer’ or just ‘Marketing Manager’.
Quite often, a Product Marketing Manager may actually be focused on Growth Marketing.
Therefore, if a company is recruiting Ukraine-based talent, it’s important to pay attention to experience and skills, as well as job titles.
What Elizabeth enjoys most about her role
What do you enjoy most about your role? And has this changed over the course of your career?
I enjoy spotting the business opportunity and pursuing it by developing a strategic product marketing program that leverages communication and holistic product experiences.
The more expertise is needed to achieve something, the more I enjoy it as I can realize what I learned in practice and also find something new to explore.
The most significant moment in Elizabeth’s career as a PMM
What has been the most significant moment within your product marketing career? How has this experience changed or impacted how you make decisions today?
Very good question. I think it was the realization that my challenges as a product marketer aren’t unique. Since that realization moment, my life became much easier and I matured in my role.
I can see across the industry that a lot of product marketers face challenges in defining what they and should do in the company, what is their role in product strategy, and how to organize the process, and build relationships with stakeholders.
It inspired me to advocate for product marketers to be involved earlier in strategy and discovery and to work on frameworks and processes that help to organize our work and align stakeholders' expectations.
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?
- You are responsible for educating stakeholders that surround you about what a product marketing job is and how to work with you.
- When working on positioning and messaging make sure you truly know the audience and why they should care. By truly know, I mean all the ideas of why something should be interesting for the audience should have the data that supports it, including why the target audience is actually your product target audience.
Don’t assume your audience is the same as you and they’d care about the same things as you do. In my experience, I’ve seen many cases when initial assumptions have been proven to be wide of the mark after proper data analysis or customer and market research, such as user surveys.
Highlighting those who have had a positive impact on Elizabeth’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?
There’ve been a few professionals who’ve influenced my career to date, including:
- Laura Conway, Head of Product Marketing & Product at Depop. She influenced a lot of my current vision of product marketing and helped me to see how strategic and big this role can be.
- Aurélie Genet, VP of Product, Engagement Marketing at Flo introduced me to product marketing at Skyscanner and helped me to understand the role of the function in the UK.
- Back in Ukraine, Evgeniya Dychko, Marketing Manager at Talkable, helped my understanding of how powerful content marketing can be as a product marketing tool.
- And last but not least is Richard King, as he founded this community and I’m currently reading his book, Product Marketing Misunderstood.
Are there any Ukrainian companies or individuals (in the product marketing space or beyond) you have worked with that you think the world needs to know about?
Some Ukrainian companies with global success on top of my mind are Grammarly, Deposit Photos, MacPaw, Preply, Plarium, and Room 8 Group.
From individuals, I would want to feature an astonishing product marketer, Evgeniya Dychko. She has impressive product marketing expertise, especially in content strategy, and she just recently moved to the UK. If you’re looking to add an expert to your network or get friendly PMM content strategy advice, connect with her on LinkedIn.
Another Ukrainian marketing professional that I’d want to feature is Anna Gradil. Apart from her full-time job as Head of Seller Growth at Depop, she organized a group of volunteering marketing professionals to raise money for a humanitarian support fund - WithUkraine, a humanitarian fund from the Ukrainian Embassy.
This fund is run by Embassy employees and volunteers, and every penny donated goes directly to purchasing aid without any admin costs. Then aid is purchased in the UK and transferred directly to areas of Ukraine in need.
If you want to join Anna’s group of volunteers to help fundraise for Ukraine, feel free to contact her on Linkedin.
Ukraine’s tech sector
Ukraine’s tech sector is rapidly emerging as being 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?
Ukrainian tech companies have to compete very hard not only for candidates within the market but also to beat global competitors' offers with relocation, as a lot of professionals relocate to more globalized countries. Sometimes Ukrainian companies can pay way above the market to hire the right people.
Some engineering salaries can reach what you would expect in California, while the cost of living in Ukraine is much lower compared to the US, UK, or even Germany. It makes a career in technology even more attractive for Ukrainians and drives more people to join the industry, both graduates and people transferring from other industries.
Also, Ukrainian professionals are very devoted to driving impact and are true to their word, which makes them an easy choice to work with. Even during the full-scale invasion of Russia in Ukraine, the majority of Ukrainian tech professionals continued to work as normal, while actually hiding from shelling in bomb shelters.
Some of them took a few days off to flee to safety and then continued to work as normal from their Airbnbs. I know people who never missed a call in Zoom while working from a bomb shelter and even attended online socials.
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?
I can see that the role has become more and more popular and is quite well paid compared to other marketing jobs. I think this will continue and we’ll see more demand for product marketing expertise in leadership roles.
In my view of the future, any board of directors in tech companies should have a person with PMM expertise.
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 them 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)