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In The Valley we have a wide variety of specialties among our talent. Our people! Something we're very proud of. We have a diverse, open, family-vibe culture where everyone can be themselves. Our clients are also an invaluable part of this culture. We find the best way to work together and bring CX projects to great heights. Our specialists work embedded in a number of organizations as an in-house colleague.

One of them is Jeroen Molenaar, interim Product Owner at FD Media Group, a Dutch media company with the paper "Het Financieele Dagblad" (FD) as its most important brand. From origin specialists in paper news, have grown into a digital authority. Did you know that FD was the first news platform in The Netherlands which introduced high-quality online content behind the paywall?

So, the bar is set high for Jeroen as a Product Owner for the Marketing Automation team. Let us take you on a day as a product owner and read about all the challenges and perks :-).

8.00 Hit the road
Or the tracks. Yes, I take the car mostly when travelling to the Valley. But with FD just outside Amsterdam Amstel Station, I commute by train every Tuesday. The travel time is longer, but it’s a relaxed way to start the day and quickly scan today’s headlines on my phone. As part of a news organization, it drives me even more to be well-informed on what’s happening in the world.

9.00 Set up the Day
When I arrive at the office it’s always a pleasure to see my colleagues again. On Tuesdays the complete marketing automation team is present in the office, so it's the perfect time to catch up and have face-to-face meetings. I grab a coffee and read some short articles which caught my eye in the papers that are displayed on the counter. I don’t have newspaper subscriptions myself. So it’s nice to open the paper version every now and them. After I'm settled, I first check new mails, messages via Teams and the upcoming, in-progress and finished tickets in Jira, our issue and project management system. This gives me a good overview of the status of running projects and things that need to be addressed during my meetings throughout the day.

10.00 Team Stand-up
Each day at 10 am we have a stand-up with the team to discuss all running matters. For me it's the moment to unveil what potential issues can come up throughout the day. As a product owner it’s very important to create a smooth process for designers and developers. This means for instance that they won't get unnecessarily interrupted during a block of focus work for a specific project. Or that their briefings contain all the detailed information which is needed to complete a request. Something that is valued greatly by the developers and a fulfilling part of my job!

11.00 Sprint Refinement meeting
As in many organizations, we work in sprints to ensure we work as agile and effectively as possible. After the stand-up, I prepare for my next meeting which evolves around a specific upcoming sprint project. During the bi-weekly sprint refinement we look into the work that’s ahead of us. All tickets in the upcoming one or two sprints are discussed with the entire team. First of all, to see if all requirements are clearly described in the ticket, what questions we may have and what the potential solution can be. This meeting determines my agenda for the rest of the day. Chase the business owners to elaborate on certain wishes, get answers from different teams or organize meetings where developers can brainstorm to find potential solutions.

In this case we go into one of the campaigns (we call this ‘lifecycles) to onboard new subscribers. I love to connect the journey dots from an automation perspective. It starts with somebody subscribing for FD, say via bannering, via the subscription flow of the website this person is now a new client. This signal triggers a journey of multiple emails with information on the benefits of the total subscription. Next to the actual newspaper, unlimited access to online articles, suggestions for popular podcasts and the option to sign up for thematic newsletters can be unlimited. Of course, we'd like to offer our subscribers as much as possible for their money and trust, so we make sure to keep in touch with you in de most engaging way.

12.00 Lunch
On Tuesdays we of course lunch with the entire team. It's the best moment to talk about upcoming holidays, shady Amsterdam parties and the latest personal updates. I always look forward to Tuesday lunches, as they are very well organized…and healthy! The wide range of healthy options forces me to have a different lunch every week. Same old every time gets boring right ;-) In the restaurant the entire building is gathering for lunch, so it’s very nice to run into people from other companies such as Marktplaats. An excellent and vibrant way to spend an extensive lunch break.

13.00 Stakeholder update report
After lunch I head back to my desk to take some focus-time. As a product owner I work together and for many business owners. They are the starting point and overall owner of every new project, and once a week I make sure to provide them with a comprehensive status update of all the running projects.
To mention one, we recently went live with a website and newsletters for a new initiative within FD Media group – Listn. A podcast curation platform where you can find the most interesting podcasts which match your interests. Every sprint we add new features to this label. The latest functionality is an A/B test, so the marketeers can optimize their newsletters and make the podcast recommendations more relevant to the recipients.

14.00 Coffee Machine chats
It's about time for a coffee refill, so I am heading to the coffee machine. And of course, I run into some familiar faces. I very much missed those "coffee talks" during COVID. Casually catching up, whether it's about business or more personal things, for me, that is one of the most valuable things during an office day. And of course, quite fun as well :-).

14.30 Compliance project meeting
Compliance is a crucial element in marketing automation; this is not an exception within FD. We do not take privacy lightly, making sure our subscriber's data are safely stored and compliant with GDPR. Therefore, we often have more in-depth meetings about projects like these. We catch up with all teams that process data on current and next steps, regarding how long we have to store specific data and make sure it is removed accordingly (think of something as "simple" as invoices in your account). Also, when a user asks us to remove their data, this must run as smoothly and simple as possible. We've made a huge step there, from a manual action to full automation on our end.

15.30 Tickets check and finding some people around the office
In the late afternoon, I always do another check on the running tickets in Jira. Is everything running smoothly? Is additional input required? Are there issues to solve? I mostly use my time in the office well-spent so I follow up immediately by finding some people around the office to figure out a solution. An example of that is missing information in a briefing. In this example, the target audience for a specific campaign was described as consumers. However, we need more criteria to really narrow it down; what opt-in do we need, should it be a person who did not have a subscription in the last 6 months etc. Luckily, we could quickly narrow this down, and it did not delay campaign development.

16.30 Product owners meeting
Regularly, I catch-up with product owners from many other departments such as Marketing, BI, Consumer facing, Application support and Platform & Services. I am always looking forward to these meetings because we are all in the same boat. There are a lot of projects where we need each other’s teams. Next to exchanging experiences, we also see if collaborations or bringing learnings from one team to another could be improved. Today we talked a bit about the phase-out of the E-Paper service. We want to inform all subscribers that used this service in the past couple of months. So we need insights from the data team, send out email communication and adjust the website, app, ads and running campaigns. Everybody knows what is required for their teams, so we are confident that we can resolve this change before the deadline.

17.30 Commute & Disconnecting
One thing I cannot get used to is leaving the office in time to catch the train. So it’s either hurrying to the station in time or deciding to answer one more email and take a train later.
This is mostly not bad, because it means it's quieter and I have some time to disconnect from work and start my evening. Listening to podcasts is something I started doing, as FD and BNR have quite some interesting ones in their offering which are learning and entertaining. If you allow me to give some recommendations 😊, it would be “Hoge Bomen”, “Het nieuwe geld” and “Achter gesloten deuren”. Enjoy!

Also looking to kick start growth and fast track results? Lets connect!

The Valley Philip Kok

Philip Kok

CEO

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