AMA: I'm Sasha Rosenbaum. Product Manager at GitHub, Author, and Speaker. Ask me Anything!

30 March 2020, 4:00 pmAsk Question

Hey Hashnode community,

I'm Sasha Rosenbaum. A Product Manager at GitHub focused on helping engineers be successful with using GitHub for work as well as for open source. In my career, I have worked in development, operations, consulting, and cloud architecture. I am a chair of DeliveryConf, an organizer of DevOpsDays Chicago, and a book author. Link to my website - https://www.sasharosenbaum.com

Ask me anything about:

  • DevOps
  • Automation
  • GitHub
  • Azure
  • Cloud Computing
  • Serverless
  • Product Management
  • Other similar topics.

I will start answering your questions live on Monday, 30th March, at 4 PM GMT or 9 AM PT

Bolaji Ayodeji's photo

Hi Sasha,

Thank you for this AMA session!

Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, so many companies have resorted to remote working as a safety precaution. For developers who have not tried this before, it has been a whole new learning process for them. What measures and best practices are you using at GitHub to ensure effective remote work?

Sasha Rosenbaum's photo

Product Management @GitHub

I have seen a lot of folks publish advice on working from home (WFH), so I don't think I need to add to that. The important thing for companies right now is to realize that this isn't a regular WFH situation. People suddenly have multiple family members working from home, kids being home schooled, pets and other family members sharing the same space, and little to no home office setup. I think that the most important thing that GitHub leadership has communicated is that we are essentially lowering our expectations of engineering productivity, because we realize that the crisis is impacting most of us. I believe that communicating that clearly increases the psychological safety on the team.

Bolaji Ayodeji's photo

Developer Advocate at Hashnode

Thank you Sasha Rosenbaum

Bolaji Ayodeji's photo

You are active in the community space and organize DevOpsDays Chicago. What significant challenges have you faced while building communities and what advice do you have for beginner community managers?

Can you share some best practices that have worked for you and your community?

Sasha Rosenbaum's photo

Product Management @GitHub

My best advice is to get the right people on the team. At DevOpsDays Chicago we have a great team, and I know from working on some other community projects that this is hard to find. Having a "core" team of 2-3 people who have the time and energy to contribute, and get along well is crucial. Then, you can add more folks who may have less time, but will help you move the project forward. The biggest challenge I had with other community projects is that people sign up for more than they have time to deliver, and then go dark. This one is not easy to solve. Communicate your contribution expectations clearly from the beginning, and hone and reiterate them as you go. And expect that 30-40% of folks that seemed enthusiastic in the beginning will drop off the project.

Bolaji Ayodeji's photo

Developer Advocate at Hashnode

This is very helpful, thank you. Sasha Rosenbaum

Obinna Odirionye's photo

Hi Sasha,

Thank you for this AMA session!

There has been an issue about who is Cloud engineer, DevOps engineer or even SRE. What is your opinion about these roles and what technical tasks do they do that are different from one another at GitHub?

Sasha Rosenbaum's photo

Product Management @GitHub

Titles evolve as we go, and I've seen both folks doing the same job while having different titles, and folks with the same title doing very different jobs. If you are looking into acquiring skills in these areas, I would look at job descriptions with similar titles from a few companies that you would like to work for, and develop my learning plan based on the common denominators of these job descriptions.

Seun Daramola's photo

Hi Sasha. Thanks for this amazing opportunity. My Question: A lot of tech companies in the US would easily recruit a very skilled remote software developer from Africa. However, that does not seem to be the case with product managers from Africa. Is there any bias towards PMs applying from Africa? What can a remote PM from Africa do to stand-out amongst the crowd?

Sasha Rosenbaum's photo

Product Management @GitHub

I have seen many teams having reservations about hiring remote PMs because they worry about their ability to be effective.

  1. Apply to companies that are fully remote. You are at a disadvantage if the development team is co-located, and you are remote and/or in a different time zone. It is a lot easier to be successful if the rest of the team is distributed.

  2. Show experience in managing remote projects. For instance, many of the open-source project teams are highly distributed, and if you can show success in that space, the company is more likely to trust you.

Marcus Hicks's photo

What does your role "Product Manager" look like on a day to day basis? What steps do I need to take to build up my career towards becoming a Product Manager?

Sasha Rosenbaum's photo

Product Management @GitHub

I will assume here that you are coming from a development background.

There is a framework that I find useful for describing the difference between Development and PM schedules - Maker vs Manager (link to a blog below). As a PM, you are a manager, even if you don't manage a team. Most of your day is spent in communicating with other people - communicating with your engineering team, other teams inside of your organization, your customers, external community.

I would advise on:

  1. Understanding if you like "management" tasks. In the beginning of my career, I strongly preferred development work, as it was my creative outlet. It's important to understand that the PM job is very different, and you may or may not enjoy that kind of day-to-day work.
  2. Honing your communication skills.

blog.trello.com/maker-vs-manager-productivity

Diana Hudson's photo

I am looking out to get started with learning DevOps, what advice do you have for me and what resources or road map will you recommend for me.

Sasha Rosenbaum's photo

Product Management @GitHub

This is a tough question as DevOps may mean different things to different people. I will use the acronym DevOps CALMS, which comprises - Culture, Automation, Lean, Measurement, and Sharing. Technically, you are learning DevOps if you are advancing your knowledge in any of these areas, but developers often tend to focus on the automation part.

On the automation side, I would start with the fundamental Continuous Delivery book. It has just turned 10 years old, but it still has the most relevant fundamental advice on how to approach implementing Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery (CI/CD). Once you understand the concepts, you can start learning any of the CI/CD tools on the market. The tool choice is usually driven by your company, but I will, of course, suggest GitHub Actions :)

Antonio Malaquina's photo

Hi Sasha!

Thanks for this opportunity, based on your expertise and experience, Do you think Jenkins + Fastlane is the right way to implement CI/CD in mobile ? , I'd like to heard your recommendations and suggestions about it.

Thanks.

Sasha Rosenbaum's photo

Product Management @GitHub

I am biased here, but I would check GitHub Actions and Azure Pipelines / App Center for mobile development. All of these platforms offer cloud-hosted Mac OS build agents (as well as Windows and Linux agents), which removes the need to buy and manage Mac machines for iOS development.

Marcus Hicks's photo

Hello Sasha,

What are the most essential things that must be considered based on your experience before choosing a cloud computing platform?

Sasha Rosenbaum's photo

Product Management @GitHub

It depends on the size of your organization. If you are working on a small team, I would choose the platform based on the tasks you are looking to accomplish, and on your team's skills. In the long run, cloud platforms usually match each other's capabilities, but they do have differentiation in some areas (for instance ML, Data, Serverless offerings, and so on). And the platforms are always evolving, but having a head start in terms of skills would save you time and effort.

If you are at a large company, the choice of the cloud platform is often driven by financial and legal considerations.

Momchil Koychev's photo

Hey Sasha, thanks for the AMA.

Which Agile PM framework do you use when planning product releases? And why?

Md Zaid Imam's photo

Hi Sasha Rosenbaum, Thanks for AMA.

Prioritize Opportunities not Solutions - How should we handle this gracefully when it comes to SaaS? Some time it becomes hard to follow the same while practicing as PM.

Sandeep Panda's photo

What are some of the developer/PM tools that you can't live without?

Sasha Rosenbaum's photo

Product Management @GitHub

  1. My calendar. As you get away from the development work and into PM work, you get involved in a lot of meetings, and effective time management becomes crucial.

  2. OneNote. I use OneNote as my "external memory", having notes and resource links for all major projects. It magically syncs across all of my devices, so I can access my notes anywhere, any time.

  3. Project management tools. It's important to be able to visualize work-in-progress, so you can have a view of team capacity and project progress.

  4. Communication tools. I talk to a lot of folks inside and outside the company, so I have every possible communication app in existence installed on all of my devices :)

Sandeep Panda's photo

Hi Sasha.. thanks for the AMA. I have a couple of questions:

  • Do you have any advice for engineers who are looking to transition into a PM role?
  • What are some of your favourite books or resources related to Product Management?
Sasha Rosenbaum's photo

Product Management @GitHub

Engineering transition:

In my career, I transitioned through first doing other customer-facing roles, like consulting and technical sales. Look into gaining skills at communicating with customers, and communicating across teams in your organization.

Books:

  1. I really like the book "Platform Revolution". It is not about product management in a traditional sense, but it gives insight into why some products are becoming highly successful in this new connected era.
  2. "The Customer-Driven Playbook" is a book about the hypothesis progression framework and converting customer feedback into product success. It emphasizes the importance of collecting customer feedback, instead of just trusting your own assumptions.
Sasha Rosenbaum's photo

Product Management @GitHub

Also, please consider my answer to Marcus Hicks, as I think the Maker vs Manager framework is very helpful in understanding this transition.