- The ultimate goal should be to create an interconnected, self-sustaining ecosystem. The best leaders don’t play all the instruments. They conduct the orchestra and get the best out of each individual.
- Success comes through listening and learning what your customers want, not what you think they want.
- CRM should always be a holistic effort, no matter which department is technically in charge of it.
The challenge of building a successful ecosystem
You need an overarching vision, mission, strategy, and an effective team to carry a prosperous ecosystem through. More importantly, you want someone to manage the interplay between those elements.
That’s where Nicholas Goubert comes in. He is a seasoned technology expert, consultant, startup mentor, and cross-industry innovation firebrand.
A problem-solver by nature with a passion for music and cartography, he found his calling in the creation and management of innovative self-sustaining ecosystems.
After working as VP Product Management at HERE Technologies, VP Product Management at Soundcloud, and mentoring several startups along the way, Nicholas is now a Chief Product & Technology Officer at Clark, revolutionizing the traditional insurance model.
Developing as a Product Leader
I’ve done a lot of different things over the years. I’ve never been a fan of labels, but if you push me, I think I would call myself a Product Leader. My product is the team I build.
I started in engineering and project management, working on projects for the Ordnance Survey, the French National Geographic Institute, and the World Bank. I really loved this experience, and cartography remains one of my biggest passions.
I did a spell at HERE as VP Product. Here, I mentored at the Startupbootcamp and various startup accelerators in Berlin for several years.
As a music-lover, I was fortunate enough to work at SoundCloud and Native Instruments. These experiences were a dream come true. Nowadays, I work at Clark as their Chief Product & Technology Officer responsible for leading Product, Design, Data, and Engineering teams.
Revolutionizing the way people practice insurance
Clark is a digital insurance broker, offering relevant, comprehensive, and customer-centric insurance coverage. While most digital insurance solutions are vertical, Clark takes a more horizontal approach.
Compared with other trends, the insurance industry is pretty backward-looking. I don’t know that many people who are happy with their insurance policies.
Most people don’t even know what their insurance covers. There are very few products that include a broad spectrum of life moments. To make matters worse, every single human being will need insurance at some point in their life.
That’s where Clark comes in. Clark makes insurance easy. It’s an all-encompassing digital broker that works on behalf of customers to provide all the coverage they need, without unnecessary complexity and tedious jargon.
We’re in a unique position that offers a lot of benefits. We can scale endlessly, and the more users we have, the more efficient and relevant for our customers we become. It can only get better and better.
4 steps to become a successful Product Leader
The role is a blank page, but I spend my time doing 4 main things:
1. Strategy architecture
In all my recent roles, I used the overarching strategy stack and the “why, what, how” formula. Essentially, vision, mission, and strategy.
You need to know why you’re aligned towards a particular set of goals, what you’re doing to achieve them, and how to achieve those goals. This applies to all facets of life. Business is no exception.
2. Building the best team
People in leadership roles find this incredibly hard. You always need to be humble and hire people who are smarter than you, God forbid!
That sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised how many business leaders feel intimidated by bringing in experts who may know more than they do.
3. Listening to those experts
Listen to what your teams are saying. Remember, these people are smarter than you, so trust in their hard-earned expertise.
You need to show some empathy. It’s the only way to ensure your team has the necessary tools in place to build products of significant value.
4. Managing the ecosystem
If you want your team to thrive, you need to view yourself as the leader of an interconnected, self-sustaining ecosystem.
It works like this: you can tell them where the business will go, and then agree on the ground rules. After that, give them the freedom to define how they’ll achieve those goals. Success only comes through listening and learning.
Developing a problem-solving mindset
I was fortunate to build very proactive, self-sufficient, and creative teams and work for industries I truly love.
I’m lucky enough to have found my lifelong passion: out-of-the-box thinking. I feel invigorated when allowed to creatively tackle previously unthinkable challenges and help startups generate growth.
I get a real rush from having solved a problem in a meaningful, transformative way. Of course, the feedback is a bonus, but the real joy is solving a problem and working with extremely talented people to get there.
I love solving problems. I’ve always had a deep, burning love of cartography. The joy of map-reading is that there are always logical and creative solutions to problems. You can cross every insurmountable mountain if willing to take risks, and occasionally experiment. Look at Hannibal crossing the Alps.
Music is similarly logic-based. In every song, you want a harmonious interplay between all the different elements. That’s what I do – ensure a melodious balance exists between the disparate teams, systems, and processes, turning these parts into one holistic body of work.
Unlocking the sales potential of CRMs
Customer relationship management (CRM) is like clay. You can shape it into all sorts of tools. By definition, CRM covers the entire user lifecycle: engaging, educating, and reactivating dormant users.
CRM used to be part of marketing at Clark. But we found that it made more sense to move it into Product.
After all, it’s embedded into every stage of the user lifecycle. The role is the same as any product: delivering user value while creating business value by activating, engaging, educating, and retaining them.
It takes a lot of work to set up CRM to its full, turbocharged potential. It’s about having the right systems in place to manage the data and the perfect team. You need a product marketer, a bunch of CRM experts, analytics people, data engineers, and designers.
It’s basically a product team but be sure the CRM team interacts with every part of the product team. By not doing so, you could end up jeopardizing the operation with conflicting objectives and fragmented data silos.
Build human-centric insurance experiences online
Clark offers two types of insurance: Property and Casualty (easier to automate), and Life and Health (poses some complex issues).
Firstly, the premiums are higher. Users still prefer to have human interactions, particularly on a call. That’s completely understandable.
We’ve worked with users to find their preferred method of communication. Younger people favor seeing the data and dealing with matters in their own time rather than chatting with people over the phone.
Expert advice is at the heart of what we do. It’s just a question of what the users desire in terms of a favored method and frequency of communication.
Put users at the center of the process and listen to what they actually want, not what you think they will want.Nicholas Goubert, Chief Product & Technology Officer at Clark