Jean-Christophe (“JC”) Huet, Tempo Folio Product Manager
You and your team joined Tempo in late 2014 when FOLIO for JIRA and Tempo joined forces. What’s the transition been like? What’s different?
The social culture of our teams was very close so the transition to Tempo went very smoothly. The culture of Tempo is very strong and we felt very much like we joined a very supportive family.
Tempo was an established company with a strong brand and with well-oiled departments like marketing, support, and our team was immediately supported. We felt very welcomed from the start.Your team is in Montreal and is growing, while much of the company is in Reykjavik. Have you had any challenges in working as a distributed team? How do you manage the distance?
We have really been able to make the long distance work by keeping constant communication — by daily stand-ups every day using video conferencing, HipChat, and even the telephone. So far, it hasn’t been a challenge in terms of building our product. In terms of team building, we send team members back and forth from time-to-time so team members can work directly with other team members and to socialize and have fun together outside of work. Some of us have young families, but we still take one day every week to hang out after work.
As the creator of GreenHopper, which was acquired by Atlassian in 2009 (rebranded as JIRA Agile and then integrated into JIRA Software — today used by 40,000+ companies around the globe), you’ve been a part of the Atlassian Ecosystem for many years. Why Atlassian?
I believe very strongly in Atlassian’s values and their culture. I admire their co-founders, Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar, and have worked closely with them over the years; I’ve viewed them as my mentors. I think they’re thought leaders in their field, appreciate that they experiment a lot, are open to sharing their failures and learning from them, they run their business the same way I have aimed to run mine. And, I like the Atlassian family of products.
What trends do you see as important in B2B product development? What excite you?
There’s a discernible focus on customer feedback, and that excites me.
Recently, I was speaking with one of our customers, and they realized that I had helped to build JIRA Agile. He made me realize the impact that this product has had for team leads and managers in achieving their goals and in making their work easier, and that was humbling and rewarding. Getting this type of feedback helps keep me grounded and truly understand the domain, the problems that our customers are facing, and how I can improve our products.
How do you approach product development? What’s most important to you and why?
My challenge and goal is to understand the problem that we want to solve, and to define and implement an iterative approach to capture and incorporate feedback.
Agile or waterfall?
Agile, overall. We work in sprints with Tempo Folio, but we also work in kanban. Our product is built to be framework-agnostic, so whether teams are working in Agile, waterfall, or a hybrid framework — it should suit them.
What’s a typical day for you at Tempo like?
As a product manager, I attend daily standups with my team. I am very close with our developments, and see the pull requests. I build the newest version and go through the product as the newest version is being built, I’ll attend modeling, design, and planning sessions, I will meet with clients and test our newest ideas, I’ll meet with partners. I’ll motivate my teams and will speak with all of our team members on a daily basis. I am always complimenting my people and trying to have as much fun as possible throughout the whole day.
In my free time, I’m supporting our Montreal operations, and am active on the management team with weekly tacticals, strategy sessions, and retros and planning.
How would you describe the company culture at Tempo?
Tempo Montreal still very much has a startup culture. We’re a very self-organized team, where everyone is very involved and participating, and very hard-working. We expect good work from our teammates, we go above and beyond of what was asked or expected, but are also very supportive of one another. Everyone is very open and involved with what we’re working on and give open and constructive feedback. We come to the office to have fun, not just to work.
What do you like best about working at Tempo?
Tempo is a culture where everyone has a voice and everyone’s voice matters. People are given the tools and support that they need to grow, and are trusted to do their work and to do it well. It’s a company that believes a lot in its people.
How has your background benefited you in your role at Tempo?
Being in the Atlassian Ecosystem has helped me to understand the market and to understand Atlassian, and that has helped guide the product that I’m helping to build.
What advice would you give others seeking to work in this field? What qualities or characteristics are important?
I think the most important thing is to believe in yourself and not be afraid of failure. Failure is what helps you to learn and to grow. Being passionate is really important. Learn from the best; don’t be afraid to approach people you admire and . Aim for the moon. If you get to the sky… that’s still a really good achievement.
What song do you listen to when you need to go into “work mode”?
System Of A Down