TL;DR – Skip to the end where you can view and download a sample of the case study I prepared as part of interviewing at CBRE in late 2019. The below case study is intended to give you the context behind this case study and inspire others how they can go over and beyond to demonstrate their value to people they want to work with.
In November 2018 CBRE had just announced it was to launch a new product called Hana – a competitor to WeWork in the Flexible Office space market. At that time there were few technical details about the physical product offering – let alone any mention in the press releases around technology needs to deliver this product.
At the same time I’d just had a second interview with CBRE for a Senior Product Manager role. The role was the first product manager hire their UK technology team had made as part of a new organisational design that was moving from local technology leadership and investment to a globally connected digital and technology delivery model. CBRE were transforming from being a project and technology led organisation to become a product led and technology enabled company and the UK team’s mission was to become a PropTech within one of the largest Commercial Real Estate companies.
What struck me at the time of interview was just how project management oriented the interviewers were. Sure they talked about Agile and they shared with me their passion for their tech projects – but it screamed out to me that they didn’t understand the value (or the differences) Product Management would bring. As I came to discover, the transition to be Product focused was being driven by the tech leaders in the US of A – and not on the ground in Blighty.
In parallel I was interviewing with Google, and it was quickly apparent to me just how much opportunity there was to make an impact at CBRE. So to highlight my value to CBRE I prepared a sample product use case to share with the hiring manager. My goal was to demonstrate how I work, the tools I use from my product management toolkit and my initiative and thought leadership. I researched the new Hana offering, and the wider competitors offerings. Using first principles I then proposed how I may go about addressing technology product needs for the new offering. Clearly in reality this use case would be underpinned by user research and led by customer data; it would look at pipeline of clients that may use Hana and talk to them to understand actual customer needs to build the right roadmap. In the absence of access to these insights (and given my limited goals) I made some assumptions and went about creating a product concept – identifying use cases to solve and target user personas. Focusing on one use case I then mapped out a product vision board and a value proposition. Finally I demonstrated how I may build a roadmap – which would obviously be regularly reviewed and refined based on product and user feedback and needs. Looking up CBRE’s corporate colour palette I packaged all of these communication tools in a CBRE looking deck and shared a PDF version with my recruiter to forward to CBRE’s hiring team. To be clear, no one asked me to create or submit this case study.
Was it useful you may ask? Well I went on to be offered the job and I was very happy with the offer that was presented. It highlighted to me that even if CBRE UK didn’t get Product yet – they could see the value in what I could offer. To this day I’m unsure the value my hiring manager placed on my unexpected submission – unfortunately he was a victim of the org restructuring and he departed 2 weeks prior to me assuming my new role. That said, it isn’t important to me how widely this input was circulated. The true value this brought to me was it focused me on my core skills and value at a time when I needed to be at the top of my game. It forced me to research the industry, consider technology from the user’s perspective and it helped me identify and resonate with some of the opportunities this role could offer. It excited me enough that I stepped out of the final hiring round of Google in order to accept the offer from CBRE. The rest is history.
If the below slider gallery isn’t scaling correctly on your device then please view the downloadable PDF version below.