Employee Tuesday – What does a Head Of Product do?

by Marie Terhechte

You joined Urban Sports Club as Head of Product last year. What are your responsibilities and what do you enjoy most about your role?

Let’s start with the definition of ‘Product’ within OneFit, the Dutch leg of Urban Sports Group.

For me, Product is that magical and exciting place where the user’s wants and needs meet our company goals. We then flirt with technical possibilities to find solutions to these needs. Our product playground includes the information we provide on our app and website which brings our amazing brand to life. 

The team and I set the direction of our user experience now and in the years to come so it’s crucial we stay on top of all technical trends and developments, from code to web3. 

As Head of Product I spend a lot of time aligning with different stakeholders. My goal is to ensure everyone’s on the same page as we want to make a product that our members love and our partners are proud of. Running a profitable business means we can pay our sports partners and our bills at the end of the month while keeping members fit and healthy. 

What I love most about my role is the people. Everyone we work with is passionate, capable and energizing. I love to join forces, meet, create and share knowledge and experiences to work towards a common goal.

How do you maintain a good work(out)-life balance?

As soon as the pandemic hit, I created a home office. It started as a corner in the living room and it’s now converted into an actual room. I also have a home automation system to recreate that switch in gears mindset when making a daily commute. 

I start my workday by telling my home system “I’m going to work” – so it automatically turns off some of the lights and heating. When I wrap up my workday I say “I’m going home” and it reverses the settings. That little trick using smart technology helps me focus and get my mind in the right state to find balance. 

On top of this, I love to workout. I train at the same time at least three times a week and it’s fixed in my calendar so it’s visible to the team. This schedule helps form a habit and rhythm, and I can add or modify whenever I want. If we ever go into lockdown again or the gyms close, I can just grab my bike and go outside and get the headspace I need through working out. 

What were your team’s biggest challenges and lessons during the pandemic so far?

  • Anything is possible with digital and video but some issues are better tackled face to face. Whether it’s technical challenges or decision-making, it’s better for the team to be in the same room so being apart was a challenge, and the post-work beers were especially missed. 
  • You can prepare for any scenario, but the one that comes up is always the one you didn’t prepare for. However, our extensive preparation means we have building blocks in place to find the right solution for every challenge. Our solutions aren’t just technically sound – they’re delivered quickly and punctually.
  • The team creates Product magic and I’m so proud of all the people who make it happen. The team is always on par, thinking ahead, providing solutions and working well together and with other departments. We really make things happen. Wanna join?

What’s your personal interpretation of “Put yourself in the shoes of others” and how do you bring this value to life in your team?

I love this value as it’s a personal goal of mine. Creating a space that enables and motivates others can be tricky, however it’s human and very easy to become blindsighted and fall into your own patterns and preconceived notions. 

My team tackles this by reading all feedback given by our members including positive and negative reviews and recommendations. It really helps us understand what’s happening outside our own walls and how members experience our product. Communicating our members’ insights to the team and stakeholders helps us set our priorities. 

What motivates you to get up in the morning? 

The quick answer: my body wakes up at 7am. The long answer: the product, people and company keep me motivated and being Head of Product at OneFit brings me challenges too amazing to refuse. 

I got a call from Edouard Leeuwenburg back in March 2021. We’d worked together in the past, so when he asked if I wanted a cup of coffee I thought it would be a friendly catch up – not an interview. 

I wasn’t planning to leave a secure and steady job in the financial sector for a job in the sports industry while the world was in lockdown, but Edouard wouldn’t take no for an answer and set up a few calls to meet the team and founders. 

After the second rounds of calls, I was convinced I wanted to work for Urban Sports Club and OneFit. After the third round I was worried I would mess up the interviews, and after the fourth, all I had to do was hand in my resignation. 

I’ve never looked back and I’m loving every moment. I haven’t lost that feeling of wanting to work with this group of amazing people and do awesome things. That will always be the reason I get out of bed in the morning.

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