Name: Eric Iwashita
Role: Product manager
Company: Pendo
Background: Eric is a Triangle transplant passionate about human-centered problem solving, ethical design, and wicked problems. After studying product design at Stanford, he’s applying these product philosophies and strategies to Pendo Adopt, working with developers and designers to explore a new persona and new market. When he’s not geeking out at work, you can find him hiking and exploring the outdoors with his significant other and Jax the husky!

What consumes the majority of your mental space during the day?

We have a team that works on a lot of different things, so I’m trying to effectively manage a lot of backlogs for my team, so that they know what they’re working on next. We don’t want to lose prioritized work. Secondly, I’m working on ADOPT, which requires higher-level brainstorming. It’s more of a go-to-market thing. Those two things are always on my mind.

What product(s) are you responsible for? What do you love about each?

I’m currently leading ADOPT, right now. That’s super exciting because it’s a new product. If you think about any new product, they stay in stealth mode for two years to find product-market fit. ADOPT was incepted about a year ago and we have all these new learnings that will allow us to iterate on the next structure of it for product-market fit. That’s always exciting to work on something new.

What’s the best way to keep your team motivated?

The engineers that work at Pendo care about the product and care about putting out high-quality products and great user experiences. Any information I can share with them about the customers and their interest in Pendo helps motivate them. 

How do you get your creative work done? How do you tap into your creativity? 

I have to block off time to brainstorm, but a lot of it has to be organic. I have a design partner and we block out an hour off every Monday and Wednesday afternoon. But to be completely honest, those times are usually skipped because we have work to do. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, because our brainstorming time isn’t constrained to those blocks. When we’re grabbing coffee, or going on walks, we’re still talking about the product. It’s less about scheduling time for me, but just prioritizing time with my team to have these conversations wherever they might be. Sometimes, we can go into a room, decompress, and bounce ideas off of each other. It might take us 20 minutes to really get into the groove of ideas flowing but it helps.

What’s in your tech stack?

I use JIRA to communicate with the product team. We use Miro to communicate high-level plans. We also use Airtable to store company initiatives, narratives, and the product story that we’re trying to tell. It’s more so used as a piece for sales enablement.

How did you get into product management? 

I was a sales engineer first, and I was looking to fill into a sales engineer position at Pendo until I met our VP of product. I went to Stanford for product thinking, so there were a lot of philosophies like design thinking and customer-centricity that I was already exposed to. And I honed all my customer listening skills as a sales engineer as well, so it’s not that product management was never the intention but it just happened.

What’s your favorite podcast?

99% Invisible. 

What’s your go-to jam when you need to concentrate?

If you could work on any problem and develop any product for it? Improved version of an existing product?  

I would work on LEGOS because there’s unlimited creativity. It’s not necessarily solving a problem, but just enabling creativity. For problems, I’m pretty passionate about water conversation. Having grown up in California, and adjusting to the lifestyle of conserving water — I’d love to work on a problem that focuses on that.

  1. My laptop with all the Pendo stickers. My favorites? The Pendogs, and Pendogonia.
  2. Pendo’s Value Framework. Our VP of product dropped it off on my desk. It’s how the sales team is organizing so it provides a lot of context and perspective on how our product is being marketed and sold.
  3. My fiancee, Rachael and I. She’s an Olympic figure skater, and we met in college. She’s now getting her Ph.D. in clinical psychology at UNC.
  4. LEGOS! Best product ever.
  5. Sticky notes. I can never have enough.
  6. Airpods are a great symbol of my day-to-day. I’m constantly part of calls and talking to customers.
  7. This is a reusable coffee mug. It’s my lifeblood, and it’s less waste!

About the Author

Hillá Meller is the editor-in-chief of ProductCraft. Previously, she was a content specialist at Insert, a mobile engagement platform, and a digital insights analyst at SimilarWeb. A graduate of Yale and Georgetown, Hillá is a life-long nerd.