Women In Product Conference 2021

Take A Look Back at #21WIP

2020 and the beginning of 2021 brought us a great deal of uncertainty, but at #21WIP, we took three days to attend to the opportunity that is arising out of what has been such a difficult time for so many. It was a chance for us to remind ourselves and each other that together, as a community of women in product, we can IGNITE POSSIBILITY in our careers and blaze a trail that leverages the resilience each of us forged over the past year.

This was our second virtual event, and it flew by, fueled by incredible keynotes, three days of breakout sessions presented by more than a hundred women from our community and beyond, and networking and connection that, sometimes, made us forget we were gathering in virtual space. That chat on each of the stages and in the main lobby? It was 🤩. We hope you joined us, but if you missed it, or if you just want to revel in your memories, here are some of the highlights from this year’s event:

Day 1: Seeing Possibility

When women are empowered, everyone wins. That’s the message Whitney Wolfe Herd, Founder and CEO of Bumble, shared during our opening keynote. Whitney’s journey led her to be the youngest woman founder ever to take a company to IPO. (Possibility?🔥 IGNITED.🔥 ) “If you see someone doing something great, or see someone struggling, include them, bring them on the journey with you,” Whitney encouraged us. “I think the best way we can mentor each other is to put out a hand as women and say, ‘Hey, let’s not go by ourselves. Let’s go together, and we’re stronger together.’”

Throughout the pandemic, women have been at the helm as the pace of technological change accelerated. Jimena Almendares, Senior Product Manager, Facebook, facilitated a conversation with Betina Evan, Group Product Manager, Peloton Interactive; Katrina Benjamin, Senior Product Manager, UpWork; and Nupur Srivastava, Group Product Manager, Grand Rounds Health; about how they redefined product in fitness, healthcare, and remote work, industries that all experienced tremendous change as the world pivoted. “Normally the product team will do lots of bottom-up brainstorming and user studies to generate ideas,” Nupur said. “But there was so much panic when the pandemic hit, and we had to move super-fast for our patients.”

Other 💥💯 Quotes From Day 1

When I think about prioritization, especially for product, I think it comes down to what are your core values and having that drive you. And so for us, a big part of what we are all about is improving the customer experience.

Liz Meyerdirk

CEO, The Pill Club

You can go to countless conferences, webinars, read a number of books, but you must come up with a framework that’s repeatable that works for you.

Tara King-Hughes

Senior director of Product Management, Strava

Think of your product like a black box. The input to the black box are things that will affect your output.

Dr. Anwesha Bhattacharjee

Head of Hotel Fintech, Hopper

Day 2: Creating Possibility

AI is huge right now, and it affects so much of what each of us does every day. On our second day of #21WIP, Rana El Kaliouby, Cofounder and CEO of Affectiva, talked about the intersection between product management and AI, and issued a challenge to women in product management so they can ensure the tech they’re developing embraces humanity. “For all of you who are product owners, if you are not prioritizing, and if you’re not being intentional about mitigating biases in your algorithms and then ensuring that your engineers and your key stakeholders care about that, yeah, that’s a missed opportunity to do good,” Rana said. “Again, I encourage you as women in product to really embrace diversity and equity and inclusion and prioritize data on mitigating data algorithmic bias and ensuring the diversity of this technology and the robustness of it, because if you make that a priority, if you make that a key requirement for the product, guess what, it starts to proliferate across the whole organization.”

Farah Abdallah Akoum, Senior Group Manager, Search and Discovery, for Zillow gathered Ana Grace, Women In Product Board member and Facebook’s Director of Product for AI; Madhurima Khandelwal, Vice President and Head of AI Labs for American Express; and Naviran Singh, Founder & CEO of Credo AI for a conversation about how AI is being applied to transform today’s digital products, and its opportunities and challenges. “While all of this is said and done very well often, what is important to keep in mind is there needs to be a human oversight,” said Madhurima. “It is absolutely a must for us to represent the products that we create for the communities that we serve.” 

Other 💥💯 Quotes From Day 2

Start with listening and learning.

Jasmine Lawrence

Product Manager, X, the moonshot factory

Even if you feel like the Only, even if you are the Only in the space you’re in right now, you’re not the only one that’s there.

Melika Hope

Director of Product Management, Twitter

My key message here is it’s all about picking the right environment because your impact is as much as a PM, it’s as much about you, but also about the environment around you and about the support you’re receiving from the environment.

Deepti Madan

Product Manager, Facebook

Day 3: Embracing All The Possibilities

Lisa Gelobter, CEO and Founder of tEQuitable, helped round out our third conference day by taking us on an incredible ride through her 30 years as a Black woman in tech, and how she has leveraged that tremendous experience for good at the helm, now, of a startup that’s making workplaces more equitable. “There’s not just one smooth path, in terms of thinking about how you can approach stuff and what the right answers are,” Lisa said. “So, I would say it’s really important for you to figure out what your strengths are and then find jobs specifically that play to them, that actually take advantage of your superpowers, of your strengths, the things that you excel at and that you like doing.” 

Social justice by design was also the topic of a panel discussion moderated by Prashanthi Ravanavarapu, Senior Director of Product Management, Consumer Financial Services, PayPal. She talked to Ivor Horn, Director, Health Equity & Product Inclusion at Google; Anne Diaz, Product Manager, Anti-Discrimination at Airbnb; and Elise Roy, VP of Inclusive Design and Accessibility at Salesforce about how the tech industry can bring large-scale social change and infuse their work with justice. “I don’t want to see designing for inclusion or equity or justice to be an add-on,” said Elise. “I want it to be a regular part of the process. I want people to see it as good design.”

Other 💥💯 Quotes From Day 3

The more you reflect, the better you can manage yourself, and others when change hits in the future. And since the only constant is change, we know more change is going to come.

Cynthia Farrell

Owner & Principal, 110 West

We used our scrappy, start-up instincts to think about how do we do these things differently?

Connie Lee

Director, Global Content Operations Strategy, Disney+

My key message here is it’s all about picking the right environment because your impact is as much as a PM, it’s as much about you, but also about the environment around you and about the support you’re receiving from the environment.

Lisa North-Huang

Product Lead, Planet

Take a Look at our 2020 Speakers

At Women In Product, we believe that true inspiration, impact, and change depend on hearing from, and listening to, people with a variety of perspectives and backgrounds and aim to be transparent in commitment to creating a platform that supports a variety of perspectives and backgrounds. View our full Diversity & Inclusion Statement for more details. You may also review our Women In Product Conference 2021 Speaker Diversity Report here.