As Stitch's director of product management, Mark Frantz has a hand in many tasks. "Product management is a job that touches every department," he says. "I work with sales to figure out what the market wants; support, to make sure customers are happy; marketing, to spread the word about us; engineering, to build the product; and the executive team, to push toward business goals. I talk to customers and partners to learn what they need. I track our competitors. And I try to weave all of that together to build a compelling product strategy that meets our business goals and product aspirations."
Stitch's product team comprises two product managers, a product designer, a documentation specialist, and a four-member support team. "My job is to make sure everybody has what they need and keep them all running well," Mark says. "I also serve as a product manager in my own right, which means trying to figure out what customers need and working with our engineering team to design and build features that make customers happy."
A typical day for Mark might find him poring over Google Docs, tracking multiple projects in Trello, and using SQL-based analytics tools to surface business insights. The nice thing about product management, he says, is that there's a lot of variety to the days. "You can be buried in analytics for a while, you can have multiple meetings with engineers and other members of the company, or you could be spending all day testing platform enhancements or surfing the web for competitive analysis. It's never routine."
Mark graduated from college with a degree in information management and worked as a software developer for 10 years. Eventually he switched over to product management because "after awhile I found I liked figuring out what to build more than actually building it." He came to RJMetrics, the company in which the Stitch platform was originally created, four years ago at a time when the company had been in the news often and was growing quickly. "The culture seemed really good," he says, "and that proved to be true."
"We have a lot of smart people solving a lot of interesting problems. I've worked at very few places where there's no one who feels like dead weight, no one not doing their share. One of our corporate values is 'do the right thing' — DTRT — and everyone embraces that, and that doesn't happen at most offices."
That perspective informs his management style, which he calls "pretty hands-off. I like to let people run with the things they're working on and be available to provide perspective. I don't like to micromanage — don't like to step into situations I don't know very well. That fits in with DTRT and accountability. We trust people. If people need help, they will ask and we will give it."
In addition to his product management duties, Mark does his best to instill a sense of whimsy to the company. Mark is responsible for Stitch's social media accounts, "which lets my Dad jokes elicit eye rolls from the world instead of just my kids." And he created Stitch's mascots, Spoolz McData and the Stitch Kid, crafted our hackathon trophy, and made numerous fun treatments of the Stitch logo.
"I love being able to bring my personality to my work and leverage it to help build the culture and try to make the office a fun place. And the best part of this job is that I get to do it with people who I really like and respect, and who tolerate my crazy ideas."
Mark keeps busy outside of the office too. "I play pickup basketball and softball. I'm the Navigator of a father-daughter program with the local Y, and commissioner of a few fantasy sports leagues. Plus all that parent stuff. I can't complain."