Jesse Owens II
Director, Product Manager, Digital Wallet Services at MasterCard
How did your earlier career choices lead you to your current role?
I obtained my undergraduate degree in Computer Science with an emphasis in Information Systems from Norfolk State University. Post undergrad I spent six years at JP Morgan where I served in a number of [technology centered] roles in the Asset Management and Investment Bank lines of business. I felt there was an opportunity for me to build products that solve problems in the education space which led me to Imagine Easy Solutions (IES). The experience at IES was great because we were focused on building tools for students to develop effective reading and writing skills. Currently, I’m a Product Manager at MasterCard where my role consists of identifying and solving market needs in the digital payment space for merchants, card issuers and consumers.
How did you set yourself apart from other candidates for your current role?
To be honest, I think we all have talents and skills that make us dynamic individuals. What makes me unique is my attention to detail from different aspects of the product. If we’re building a consumer facing mobile/web application, I’m very keen on the topography, color palettes, messaging and interaction patterns of the product which can drive users to your product or drive them away. Being well versed in these components of the product has been beneficial to my career.
Describe a typical day in your work life.
A typical day would consist of collaborating with our Product Management Team on the next set of features to build into our digital wallet – MasterPass. These meetings, along with quantitative and qualitative metrics, allow us to refine our product road map to align with business commercialization targets. Once the priorities are set with the stakeholders, sessions with development teams are kicked off to define feature requirements and acceptance criteria for successful delivery of the feature to our clients.
What is one surprising thing about your job?
The one thing I found very surprising is the level of complexity for the life cycle of a payments transaction. Considering the number of touch-points within a payments flow, there’s a huge emphasis on user experience, security and performance. I think the biggest thing is understanding team dynamics and being accommodating to those differences and adaptable to change. We have great development teams located in Baroda and Malaysia [and the distance and difference in time zones] can be a big communications barrier. Given some of these barriers, we’ve created some processes that allow us to work effectively and achieve greater transparency across our products.
What is your life mission and how does your current job intersect with that mission?
My life mission is to empower communities around the world to live in a frictionless culture through technology. MasterCard aligns with that mission by delivering payment solutions to underserved communities to allow them to be a participant in global commerce.
What are your top three tips for those aspiring to work as a product manager or at MasterCard?
1) Always have empathy for your customers
2) Understanding how to balance business, tech and user experience in relation to developing products as well as speaking the language across each will be beneficial throughout your career
3) Master the art of storytelling through data insights to engage your stakeholders