Meet Transcenda’s Head of Product and Design Taras Bublyk
Meet our Head of Product and Design, Taras Bublyk. He has over 10 years of experience leading global design and product teams, and he loves bringing an agile approach to both Transcenda’s enterprise and startup clients. Together with his team, Taras creates products and services that positively impact the lives of millions of people. He tries to find a better way in everything he does, and believes that everything can always be improved, perfected, and simplified.
How did you initially get interested in technology and what do you like most about it? What was your path to leadership?
I think it has always been with me, starting from my childhood. At school I enrolled in math/physics classes from the earliest grades, and I have been fortunate to have always been connected to the most professional and inspiring teachers, who knew how to trigger the right interest in me.
I got my first job when I was in my third year of university. I learned touch-typing skills early on, and back then I was typing approximately 600-700 characters per minute (I still think this is one of the most important hard skills I have, since it helps me to write meeting notes almost word for word). That job was in an editorial agency, and all I needed to do was type news content recorded on TV into a document and create a short report afterwards. Within just a few months, I was managing a group of 10 people, and was responsible for creating online and offline media reports we shared with clients. I believe at that point in time I knew my future would be connected with management in one or another way, as well as working closely with people.
My IT path started with the QA position. I think that was really a good choice since it significantly helped me understand the user side of the product, work closely with the end users, and see the world through their eyes.
Moving forward, the path to product management was inevitable and smooth. At some point I managed a team of 20+ product managers, and later on I kept an unofficial position of People Manager for a company of 60+ team members.
Which methodologies do you use in your day-to-day work?
First of all, I’m a planning freak. I feel bad if my calendar has empty spots. I plan all my tasks carefully and assign them time slots. I do the same with my personal time and activities. Even on vacation with friends, they often make fun of me when I send them invites to flights, transfers, hotels, and book slots for activities.
I also rarely rely on my memory. In an environment of heavy information flow, I have to use digital tools and reminders. Therefore, I have a lot of methodologies to keep track of notes, action items, follow-ups etc. I usually spend at least 30 minutes a day organizing everything.
Finally, my favorite part is creativity. I normally set my environment (whether it’s an office, my home office, or just a virtual office) in a way which encourages creativity. I always had the walls around my workspace painted with the type of paint you can draw on with whiteboard markers.
At home, I have a small room equipped with all types of things you can use to explore or brainstorm new ideas: a whiteboard, plenty of sticky notes, and all types of sharpies you can possibly find, moving and adjustable height table, monitor bracket, tons of notepads etc.
In addition to that, I have a special travel pack with all the gear needed to make an ideation workshop on the fly. For example, one time we used it in a garage of a customer’s facility, and it worked out really well in the end.
How do you find great designers and product managers?
My key goal is to ensure that my personal values, company values, and team member values match. In my experience this contributes to 80% of further success. Hard skills are easy to develop if you have the right traits. I interviewed hundreds of people in my entire career, and that rule has always worked. The opposite is quite different though, if you hire only because of the hard skills there is usually a heavy chance of values mismatch in later stages.
Speaking of values – which Transcenda value resonates with you most?
“Always finding a better way.” Naturally, I always try to make things better. Even if we receive great feedback from users and customers about our work, there are always things to improve, to perfect, and to simplify.
What does your standard working day look like?
I don’t think I have ever had a day that looked like the other. However, I always try to keep at least some routines and traditions, no matter where I am and what I do.
Some of them are:
- mandatory planning and schedule management at the beginning of the day
- connecting with teams
- connecting with clients
- creativity / desk work buffer
Name a few tips for effective work in 2021.
- Plan your time upfront. Use calendars, ToDo lists, and use notes to stay organized.
- Try to change the environment you work in at least once a month. Go to the office, go to a co-working place, work from a cafe, work from another country, at least for some time. Don’t stick within the same environment for a long period of time.
- Respect your private time. Whatever happens, your family, your relatives, and your personal self must be the #1 priority.
Leading by example – what, in your opinion, are the most important skills for a leader to inspire their teams?
My key objective is to let team members strive and unleash their potential. All I have to do is create an environment where they feel comfortable and confident to develop themselves. That means no micromanagement, complete trust, and a bit of coaching. From time to time, I also force my teams out of their comfort zones, since I’m a true believer that is the only way to move forward and learn new things. I also do it to myself all the time.
That being said, the three rules of effective leadership are:
- Don’t interfere, don’t micromanage
- Trust your teams
- Work together with the team
What do you think makes a great product, and what ensures the success of new products?
Finding a perfect product market fit. It has been this way for ages and it still works. You must listen to the users and understand them perfectly to ensure success. For example, live in their environment and experience it firsthand.
What do you think makes a great product design, and how do you ensure the success of new design projects?
To me, great design must be simple and easy to understand for your target audience. Success can be ensured by a continuous user testing loop that helps you get there, as well as “eating your own dog food” – you have to use your product and design in an environment that is similar, or at least close, to your target audience.
What makes Transcenda and its team stand out from the crowd?
First of all, it’s a mix of product and design thinking, since we kind of merged both things together in our organization. We follow the principles of product design on a daily basis.
Secondly, we do what is best for our customers, for their business, and for their users. I really feel they appreciate it.
What are your hobbies?
I love swimming. I always try to find a spot in my usually packed schedule for swimming exercises: either open water or in a pool. Even on business trips, the first thing I do is search for a swimming pool close to the hotel I stay in (or vice versa!). I was able to swim during short trips to Tokyo, Frankfurt, and London in the past, and it worked out well. Currently, my goal is to complete a 10-kilometer open water swim either at the end of this year or early next year.
My second hobby is usually tied to the domain with which I’m currently engaged. In 2008 I was obsessed with social networking, since the product I worked on at the time was related to social network activity that monitored the crowd to extract unusual insights, and then sell it to the news agencies. I bought my first car once I started work in an automotive domain in 2014, because I needed to experience the environment. Since then I’ve been retrofitting my in-car’s infotainment system, used tons of driving assistance products, and moved myself out of my comfort zone by renting or sharing cars in every single country I was visiting, even those where cars are absolutely useless. These days I’m fully into the home automation space, and now I keep myself busy with filling my apartment, my storeroom, and my car with all types of smart home gear that you can imagine. It is fun!