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Posts, The Path to CPO

Alex Hardiman’s Path to Chief Product Officer

By Ambreen Molitor (she/her), National Director, Innovation at Planned Parenthood

A note from Women In Product

We recently launched a new podcast series The Path to CPO in partnership with Rashmi Ramesh. This podcast shines a light on some of the talented women CPOs working today. Each episode uncovers insight into the path they each took, how being a CPO differs from VP, what it took to make the transition, and what are keys to success in the role.

When we conducted our study “The State of Women In Product Management: A Blueprint for Equity” the data told us that 60% of women seek promotion to leadership, but 68% of women see the career path as unclear.

Our community has so many talented, ambitious, and worthy women. This series is meant to not only break open the black box of what it takes to prepare for and land a Chief Product Officer role, but also to launch a collaborative conversation among our community members.

As a part of this series, we’ve asked Senior Leaders in our community to listen to an episode, write their reflections, and pose thought-provoking questions for community discussion in our private Facebook Group.

Ambreen Molitor, National Director, Innovation at Planned Parenthood, listened to our first episode with Alex Hardiman of The New York Times.

Ambreen’s Takeaways

I’m a designer and developer by trade, and now a seasoned senior product leader. I aspire to be a C-suite exec, a board member and if opportune, a founder or student as well (in no particular order). I’d like to do this all while prioritizing being a healthy and happy mother and wife. For anyone that is scared of this list, know I have 20+ years before I’m likely to retire.

Knowing these aspirations and background made me excited to listen to Alex Hardiman and her experience to become the Chief Product Officer (CPO) of The New York Times. As unclear as the path to product executive leadership is, the best one can do is find proof points for inspiration and jumping off ideas. And this product series is a great tool to imagine where your next professional pivot can go.

Alex Hardiman is the CPO of The New York Times, and is considered to be a young, accomplished leader. My first takeaway after listening to this episode is confirming: Alex is dynamite.

Alex Hardiman, The Path to CPO

This episode really helped me get a feel for what the pathway and patterns can be to get to the C-suite, which for Alex meant:

  • Staying in the (New York Times) family either as an employer or distant fan.

  • After a decade with the Times, she knew diversifying her experiences to confirm that she’s not only a good product manager at the Times, but also elsewhere was imperative for her. Expanding her product reach, not just by thinking about one product but many, and admittedly, working continuously to build them symbiotically.

  • Expanding her product reach, not just by thinking about one product but many, and admittedly, working continuously to build them symbiotically.

  • Admitting that work-life balance is a creation of a different, and unique flavor all her own. I’m not giving away her recipe because it’s so bold, incomparable and incredible. You will just have to listen to the episode to find out for yourself!
  • And what about you?

    For folks that have been in the same organization for 4+ years, do you also ask yourself: “Am I really good at navigating product challenges at this particular company, or am I actually a good product leader who could operate anywhere?”.

    Retaining her relationships with her (then) former, now present co-workers proved to be fruitful for her. Do you have any firm, long-standing relationships that you feel can lead you to opportunities like hers?

    What are other examples of unique ways that successful people find to juggle caregiving and work?

    Join the Women In Product Facebook Group to be a part of the conversation.

    Eyeing a spot in the C-suite?

    Check out our NEW Executive Edge program, a cutting-edge collaboration between Women In Product and Athena Alliance.

    Our esteemed council of C-Suite and Senior VP-level community members are committed to mentoring qualified participants and using their industry experience to guide promising individuals toward the peak of their careers.

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    About the author

    Ambreen Molitor


    In the past 5+ years at Planned Parenthood, Ambreen has managed innovative, award-winning, mission-driven product work like the abortion service locator, Roo (an AI-powered chatbot) and Spot On (a period and birth control tracking app).

    Fun fact about Ambreen: Somewhere between the ages of 8 and 12, she was pretty certain she was going to either be a professional chocolate taste tester or become the next Oprah when she grew up.