Embracing Leadership Lessons from Yuying Chen-Wynn

The Path to CPO, Building Your Product Career, Growing with Community, Podcast

“I know I am an out of the box candidate but I have an out of the box solution for you.” -Yuying Chen-Wynn

By: Paz Zuniga, Senior Product Manager at Vista Higher Learning


In the riveting podcast episode from “Women In Product,” Yuying Chen-Wynn, shares her vast experiences navigating through the tech world and scaling up the ladder from product management to a C-suite executive. She provides insights into the preparation for a CPO role, her curiosity and constant pursuit of learning, which took her to her role, and crucial advice for aspiring CPOs. Yuying’s journey offers a unique blend of inspiration and practical guidance that can empower many women in product.

Yuying’s candid conversation triggered a flood of thoughts about my career trajectory. I have been in socially impactful products since the very beginning due to my experience in education. My passion for edtech has been mainly due to the human connection, and this is something Yuying also identified as a key component of her own career. I would invite anyone who questions their ability to lead to hear what Yuying says about women-led leadership. 

“The problem-solving stops here”

When considering the career advancement ladder, Yuying’s journey to becoming a CPO is a compelling blueprint for future aspirants. The first step in this process is a self-questioning: is this truly the role for you? In Yuying’s case, she sought the perspective of other influential women in the C-suite. A statement that particularly struck her and motivated her pursuit was: 

“The problem-solving stops here.”

This essentially means that you are the final decision-maker for users, and there’s nobody else to take the problem further. When a CEO shared this insight, Yuying instantly identified with it, confirming her desire to take on this role.

Even though Yuying didn’t have the usual background for a CPO role when she moved into it, she used this to her advantage. She brought a fresh point of view and unique benefits, making her a perfect fit for the company’s needs even though she wasn’t a traditional choice. This kind of creative thinking was tied to her ongoing learning and self-growth.

She highlighted how building a personal brand, honing your passion and successes, staying updated with the latest technology, and understanding the CPO’s role were crucial in her journey. But, she didn’t stop there. Yuying took active steps to prepare herself for the job. She worked with experts to improve her C-suite resume, found a mentor to guide her, and prepared thoroughly for board approvals. All these steps helped her overcome the challenges and made her journey to becoming a CPO a success.

CPO Mindset Shift

Understanding the mindset shift needed when moving from a VP role to a C-suite position was enlightening. It underscored the broader perspective required, from focusing mainly on team-building and strategies to considering how these aspects sync with the overall business landscape.

Yuying highlighted the importance of both hard and soft skills in leaders, particularly in tech roles. The process of finding the right people for her teams, understanding their strengths and weaknesses, and leading them effectively is another critical theme in her pre-CPO journey. A significant part of Yuying’s strategy was her ability to apply skills across various domains. She pointed out her aptitude for identifying patterns and using skills she’d learned in different areas. This suggests a versatility in her skill set and a systematic approach to linking seemingly unrelated fields.

The most profound insight was Yuying’s advice to those aspiring for a CPO role – focus on passion first. Instead of limiting oneself based on current experience, one should identify their desire for the role and the responsibility that comes with it. 

Yuying’s inspiring story presents a roadmap for women in tech, highlighting the importance of passion, personal branding, continuous learning, and adaptation to different roles. Her candid sharing provides a valuable resource for those aspiring to make their mark in the tech world.


Discussion Questions

1. How can personal branding play a vital role in career progression in the tech industry?

2. What are some strategies that can help in assessing soft skills during the recruitment process?

3. How does a shift from a VP role to a C-suite position impact your mindset and responsibilities?

4. What is the importance of ‘pattern matching’ or ‘transference’ in product development, and how can it be enhanced, especially for product people who come from other areas?


Paz Zuniga, Senior Product Manager at Vista Higher Learning

Paz Zuniga

My name is Paz Zuniga. I have extensive experience developing socially impactful products, including educational content and technological solutions that aim to streamline processes and improve experiences. I am a D&I advocate focusing on increasing Latinx representation in tech across all levels, and that’s why I am also the co-founder of Latinas in Product —an affinity group that aims to amplify the voice of Latinas in product. I live in San Francisco, and when I am not weightlifting, I am playing The floor is lava with my son.