Growing with Contentsquare: How learning to code made me a better Product Manager
In 2018, Mengzhu Liu began her journey with Contentsquare as an intern and has worked her way up to now being Senior Product Manager at the Paris office. In the past four years, both Mengzhu and Contentsquare have experienced incredible growth. This privilege of growing alongside a company is one of the highlights Mengzhu finds most exciting about being a part of the team.
“I walk out of the elevator laughing, smiling everyday, knowing that I’m going to walk into the office and say hi to these people. The second reason is that looking back, I see how I grew progressively in a company and with the company.”
– Mengzhu Liu
Mengzhu has grown tremendously during her time at Contentsquare and she certainly has the merit to prove it. During the recruitment process, she discovered that her interests and ambitions aligned with that of the product managing position which she was offered upon completion of her internship with Lucie Buisson, Chief Product Officer.
Buisson says, “From day one, I knew that Mengzhu had amazing potential. Watching her continue to improve and rise from an internship position to Senior Product Manager has been even greater. I am very proud of her and everything she brings to our product and to our team”
Michael Colombier, the Senior Product Manager stood by Mengzhu and walked her through the basics of her new position. She quickly adapted and learned core product management skills like how to write JIRA tickets, running discovery and effectively communicating with the team. Her independence within her role came from Michael guiding her from the sidelines, allowing her to grow on her own.
When the pandemic hit, the office switched to a remote work environment. This new adjustment left Mengzhu with 2 extra hours each day. She took advantage of that time and used it to teach herself a completely new skillset. She taught herself how to code. This interest stemmed from a conversation with a developer on her team. It prodded the question of whether or not a product manager can be a good product manager without any technical skills.
She took it upon herself to test this theory by comparing a before and after and deciding if it was worth it or not. Her humble beginnings began in her own home using a discounted Black Friday course purchased online along with the learning platforms provided to employees through Contentsquare.
“In the beginning it was very difficult because coding is something very, I would say, boring. You are looking at very vague concepts. On the other hand, you don’t see the output of it. You don’t see a website loading. You don’t see a pixel. You don’t see any of that.
A consistent trend in Mengzhu’s coding improvement was the support she received from the CSquad. The encouragement she received led her to progress more and more. Having a senior engineer assist her in looking through her code to find the typo gave her the motivation to continue. These little achievements slowly began to pile up like a snowball. Towards the end of Covid, she was able to take her computer into the office and became familiar with the platforms that the other developers and engineers on her team used daily.
This piqued her colleague’s interest and pleasantly surprised them. Eventually more people were eager to help Mengzhu with debugging and words of encouragement kept her going. What started as an enriching new skillset for Mengzhu became a positive and team-bonding experience for the office.
She waited to formally announce her new achievements to the team because she wanted to wait until she reached a certain level of skill before doing a sharing with the product management team. Acquiring the skill of coding has given her understanding into the design aspect of the code and how much care needs to be put into those decisions. She has become better integrated into the team and now can contribute even more to her work.
This trend of lifting each other up is commonly seen at the Paris office. At a global company with 17 locations and over 70 different nationalities the collaboration is endless. She explains the dynamic of this collaboration when it comes to facing difficulties. They actually encourage people to regularly reach out for help. Regardless of position, they love cracking problems together as a team.
“We share some fun moments to start the day and that’s really, really good. We also have retrospectives where we look back over the past two weeks and are very candid about what went well and what didn’t. I’m surprised by how honest we can be.”
This open transparency leads to other learning opportunities such as cultural awareness. In Mengzhu’s case, that came as a daily French expression of the day during the pandemic. Meanwhile, her coworkers would Google Translate Chinese phrases and put them in Slack. This interest in one another’s culture helped build a bond that feels familial.
According to Mengzhu, “That’s something truly rare. I can tell from my own experience. You don’t feel left out during office small talks or at a coffee machine. People automatically switch to English for you. And we are used to that.“
The next skill Mengzhu is tackling is French lessons, which she is taking on with full support from the company. Other team members are learning English lessons as well. If she were to wrap up her definitive reason for why somebody should come work at Contentsquare, Mengzhu says,
“If you want to grow quickly in your professional competency while doing it happily every day, then you should join Contentsquare.”
The journey that Mengzhu experienced through Contentsquare was a combination of her drive to improve and her supportive work environment. However, her ability to utilize the resources of this company and reap all the benefits is what will ensure she will continue to grow.
Watch the video below to hear more of Mengzhus’s perspective and learn more about Life at Contentsquare in Paris.
Interested in joining a company where you are encouraged to learn and grow? You can find opportunities to join Contentsquare on our career site.