Dana Chernin, PM at Rapyd, on Product Manager role and paths to eliminate gender stereotypes
This March, we launched a series of blog posts aimed at bringing the spotlight to some of the most inspirational women in Rapyd. Today, we’d like you to meet Dana Chernin. Dana is one of our Product Managers — the brains behind how our solutions work and evolve, based on the opportunity we see in the market and the needs of our clients. Our Product team makes key decisions that determine what Rapyd will bring to market in the coming 12–18 months, a hugely important role that requires an astounding range of skills.
We spoke to Dana about what her job at Rapyd involves, what motivated her to move into a product management role, her passion for all things tech, and what advice she’d offer to people that want to succeed in the industry.
Dana, what does your role involve, on a day to day basis?
I’m a Product Manager responsible for Rapyd’s consumer facing solutions and specifically for Rapyd Checkout, our flexible platform that helps integrate local payments. My role includes defining product vision, understanding customer needs in all of the global markets, from Argentina to Japan, translating them into product requirements, prioritizing, and working closely with engineering and other teams to deliver great features and products.
What critical skills are required to be a Product Manager?
The quick answer is: a combination of skills. In my day-to-day job, I play the role of the link between the business side and the execution side, so I need to be able to communicate with multiple teams — business stakeholders, developers, analysts, designers — collaborate and even sometimes motivate them. The toughest part is doing this without having an official ‘authority’, so good listening and negotiating skills are also vital.
The role also involves a lot of problem solving, and I often have to make difficult decisions and trade-offs. So strategic thinking, creativity, and keeping an open mind are all very important skills to help you with defining the product vision. As are analytical skills so that you can read data to make the right decisions.
What’s your background, and did you always want to work in a tech role?
When I was a little girl, I wanted to be a candy shop owner. As I grew older, I also wanted to become a scientist, then an astronomer… Generally, when I was at school, I was more drawn to math and science. When I was in high school, I even worked as a math tutor for some time.
Because tech was my enduring interest from a young age, it was an easy choice for me to go study at the Technion, the Israeli Institute of Technology, where I completed a degree in Industrial Engineering and Management.
Why are you so passionate about Product Management?
This role attracts me for many different reasons:
First of all, seeing my ideas become real products that make an actual impact on the lives of customers is very exciting and rewarding.
I also love working with different people and teams, motivating them to become as passionate as I am about what we’re doing.
Lastly, I enjoy learning new things, new technologies and even experimenting with new management methods. This keeps me on my toes. No two days are ever the same.
What advice would you give someone who wants to work in Product Management?
There are lots of different pathways into Product Management — no one way is correct.
You don’t need to have a technical background to be a good Product Manager, but if you want to go directly into Product, getting a technical degree like Computer Science or Engineering might be advantageous. Another option is to take a practical course which is focused, but probably not as comprehensive.
Internal transfers are another great strategy. If you’re good and comfortable in your current job you can also pick up some side projects in product management and over time transition into a full-time Product Manager role.
Personal example: while my previous company was going through its first merger, I was leading a CRM team. Using my knowledge of the company’s products and customers needs, I started assisting our Product team by conducting a comprehensive product competitor analysis, comparing my company’s products to the companies that we merged with, then started suggesting ways to improve the user experience of some core funnels, until I was suggested to take ownership of those funnels and become a proper PM.
What attracted you to working for a fintech company, and with Rapyd in particular?
Before I came to Rapyd I was in a Gaming company — a completely different industry, but my role involved working on checkout pages and payment processes. I realised that payment issues affect a huge amount of businesses and consumers.
Working as a Product Manager for Rapyd allows me to directly influence something that affects the daily lives of millions of people. You’re shaping how people interact with checkout solutions around the world with your work, which is pretty important.
Is Product Management dominated by men or women?
At Rapyd, there’s a good amount of diversity across all teams. However, looking at the global stats, Product Management is still dominated by men.
From a product perspective, maintaining a diverse team is really important, as most of the products we’re building are used by a range of users that come from all backgrounds. To design products that leave no one behind, we need to take input from both genders, different personalities, people with different lifestyles, different experiences and skills. Being part of a diverse team helps you to embrace the diversity of your global users, which is extremely important. It also ensures you’re always bringing the best experience by taking diverse feedback and stretching your preconceptions of what’s possible.
And beside the fact that gender stereotypes often lead women to conscious or unconscious pressure to prove themselves, I think that many women have some natural advantages, like balanced ego and emotional intelligence, that can make them great product managers.
What has been your experience with diversity at Rapyd?
Rapyd is pretty diverse — at our last company gathering in Israel, our CEO reminded us that the company doesn’t differentiate between men and women when recruiting for roles, people are hired for their skills and professionalism.
This should be the approach for all companies in all industries. Gender really doesn’t matter, as long as you’re good at what you do.
According to the latest stats, 35% of Rapyd employees are women. It’s not 50/50, but it’s impressive in comparison to global benchmarks.
What advice would you give to a girl or young woman who wanted to pursue a career in tech?
If it interests you, do it. Don’t ever think that you’re less capable of succeeding than someone else.
For women, finding other successful women in tech can be very inspirational, and can give you a real-life example of what’s possible. There are also lots of communities for women in tech, like SheCodes, that provide advice, support and training.
Looking back, one of the things that helped me start my journey in the Tech world, was finding a role model. For me, it was a girl who graduated from my faculty and came back to the Technion a few years later as a guest lecturer to talk about the Product Manager role and share her own career story. I asked for her email address, and she gladly helped me with some questions about career choices and product management. She became an inspiration for me at the time and maybe even left a mark on me, and led me to where I am today.
But in my opinion, it’s most important to eliminate gender awareness from a young age.
Growing up, I never considered my gender, and it certainly never held me back when choosing to study one thing or another. I was naturally drawn to computer science and math, and nobody ever told me this wasn’t how it’s supposed to be.
I believe that it’s up to society, up to all of us, especially teachers and parents, to encourage both girls and boys from a young age to explore different interests, and give them access to all subjects, helping them find out what they’re drawn to and enjoy doing. This should replace years of gender biases which used to impose on us the stereotypes on what girls and boys ‘should’ be interested in.
I’d love to live in a world where all girls could employ this mindset and notion that passion and dreams are totally gender neutral.