In this sixth episode of A Leader A Minute, we talk to Marolop Leonardo David Siagian, Group Product Manager at leading open finance platform for Southeast Asia Brankas, about how he came to join the company amidst the pandemic, learnings from having worked at several consumer tech and fintech companies in Indonesia, and his habits and views built from a career in product management. He also shares some of his favorite product management tools, books, and self-care routines! 

A Leader A Minute Episode 7 feat. The Product Manager: “The faster money moves, the faster the growth of the area around it” 

In this sixth episode of A Leader A Minute, we talk to Marolop Leonardo David Siagian, Group Product Manager at leading open finance platform for Southeast Asia Brankas, about how he came to join the company amidst the pandemic, learnings from having worked at several consumer tech and fintech companies in Indonesia, and his habits and views built from a career in product management. He also shares some of his favorite product management tools, books, and self-care routines! 

The On Call with Insignia Ventures podcast introduces: A Leader A Minute! A Leader A Minute is a new mini-series featuring startup leaders at companies we’ve covered or featured on our show. We go beyond the perspectives of the founders or CEOs and get to know the other key executives who are driving the growth of these companies and creating an impact for the customers and communities they serve. They share first-day experiences, the growth they’ve experienced on the job, leadership styles, and what excites them about the future. 

For each episode we do a Q&A interview for our blog and also produce a one-minute highlight for our TikTok, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. We also highlight open roles in the functions led by these executives in case you would like to join their team and work with them as well! 

In this sixth episode of A Leader A Minute, we talk to Marolop Leonardo David Siagian, Group Product Manager at leading open finance platform for Southeast Asia Brankas, about how he came to join the company amidst the pandemic, learnings from having worked at several consumer tech and fintech companies in Indonesia, and his habits and views built from a career in product management. He also shares some of his favorite product management tools, books, and self-care routines! 

About the Featured Leader #7

Marolop Leonardo David Siagian is Group Product Manager at leading open finance platform for Southeast Asia Brankas, where he manages product teams to achieve missions contributing to the overall growth of Brankas’s offerings, including increasing end user conversion from 15 to 35% in 5 months, shortening self-service onboarding from 60 days to 2 weeks, increasing security within their API solutions, among other objectives.

Marolop, or Olop as he is fondly called, had built more than seven years-career in product management for Indonesian tech products from commerce to fintech, working with the likes of Jualo, HappyFresh, TunaiKita, Xendit before joining Brankas. He graduated from the Universitas Kristen Maranatha Bandung with a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. 

Join Olop in : 

  1. Junior Product Manager – Remote (South-East Asia)
  2. Product Manager – Open Banking/Payment Gateway – Remote (South-East Asia)
  3. Product Manager – Pay – Remote (South-East Asia)
  4. UX Researcher (Seniority: Level 5) – Remote
  5. View more open roles

On Call with Insignia: What were you doing before Brankas? And how did you find out about the company? Why did you decide to join Brankas?

Olop: Actually I started as a full-stack developer. And then after eight months, I decided to move into [product management] because I wanted to learn about the industry. Before Brankas, I was moving between [companies] to learn about the industry and all of a sudden COVID came.

[At that time], I met my ex-manager from one of the payment gateways in Indonesia. Apparently, he is the CPO of Brankas right now. So I just came to him and I asked, “Hey, what are you doing right now?” And he answered, “Open finance.” 

And after that I did some research about open finance because open finance or open banking is pretty niche in Indonesia. And even in Southeast Asia’s it’s pretty new. And then I did my research and it blew my mind because I believe economic growth happens when there is money movement. And open finance is enabling people to [experience] the beginning of inflection towards [embracing] money movement, financial data sharing, and everything else.

I joined them not just because of the vision and mission. I think all of the companies have that, but I joined because I believe in the [progress] that had been [made] by the Brankas team in the market. The initiatives that they did, I never saw a company do that as efficiently and focusing on [their goal] to build financial services infrastructure in Southeast Asia, as much as they did.

So that’s why I chose [Brankas], and decided to join. It’s been almost two years since.

On Call with Insignia: What does it mean to be Group Product Manager at Brankas?

Olop: This is an interesting question. No one asks me this kind of question. Basically, the group product manager is the leader of a product team that focuses on supporting a business vision and customer needs and they only focus on that scope. If you are the group product manager, you are responsible for growing your team to make them achieve their goal within the company.

Of course for that, a group product manager strategizes and see the bigger picture of the direction that the team wants to take on their products. Of course, it’s a leadership role that needs trust to be shared between the group product managers and the product teams. So it’s never one way.

On Call with Insignia: In your time here so far, what’s the biggest impact you’ve been able to make in your role? 

Olop: If you’re talking about impact, our team always enables new things, like the achievement of certain metrics or enabling new solution to solve customer problems. But I think my biggest impact is not enabling the product only, but also enabling people, like enabling our sales team   to sell our product better, enabling one of our team to turn Brankas onboarding from nothing into a self-service KYC like right now that you have.

And of course, we understand together that we can improve our KYC and whatever that we have literally something from zero. I also enabled one of our team to increase our conversion by up to 40%, because we understand that merchant comes to us because they need money or data to be landed in their system or their wallet as soon as possible. Because when merchants get what they need for their business, as soon as possible, we grow together with them. This is why we do what we do, because you want to grow with the customers.  

On Call with Insignia: How has your experience as a product manager in numerous tech companies influenced the way you approached your role in Brankas?

Olop: Basically what’s happened is, from my previous experiences, it’s shown me that, as a product manager, or even not only as the product manager, I think this just needs to be [present] for [everyone] in the team. So we need to have more empathy because having less empathy and less concern for customer needs leads to poor performance in the company performance or in sales performance.

From these experiences, one thing that I [realized is] the company needs money to keep running, or they need revenue and profit. But the thing is that money comes from the customers and a customer comes because their problem is solved by our product. 

So if we don’t have a customer-centric product that we build for our customers, the company will get less revenue, as I mentioned, because the company needs money and money comes from customers and customers come because of the product.

On Call with Insignia: How would you describe Brankas’s company culture in one word?

Olop: So if it is one word, I can say autonomous. So everybody in the team is pretty accountable for anything that is given. We proactively communicate. We don’t need to be told to do something to work on something, so basically we proactively communicate to each other. We proactively help each other when people are out of hand.

[Brankas] is autonomous. There is no micromanaging within the teams as especially from the higher-ups. When we have a problem, management trusts us to solve it in our way. We can figure it out together, which will create a unique solution that comes from out team.  

On Call with Insignia: How has your role in Brankas evolved your understanding of and appreciation for product management, especially when it comes to the Indonesian market? 

Olop: Basically I think because Brankas is targeting Southeast Asia, what I learned because of this part, especially in the Indonesia market is, when it comes to the Indonesian market, it reminds me that Indonesian people are not all the same. So there are a lot of areas here, a lot of islands.

Because of that, different areas will have different cultures, different values, different opinions, different risk appetite, even different internet adoption rate. So it’s made me understand that in approaching the market and getting closer to the PMF or to the product market fit, we also need to consider [our customers’] goals or why our merchants or customers are using us. What is their goal in using our product? What do they need? And that’s the thing, because if we focus on their goal, it will shape how we will build our product, how we design it, even shaping how we sell it to them easily. 

On Call with Insignia: What is the most unique habit you’ve picked up as a result of your work as a PM? 

Olop: My most unique habit is, [and] I always tell this through my team, is “don’t just assume and create [your own] hypothesis and validate it. So when starting as a product manager, it’s easy for you to be pushed to create your own assumptions. You assume, and then boom. It happens to everyone. I think no matter if you’re a product manager or not, it also happens in the real life.

[On the other hand], if we turn that assumption into hypothesis and then we validate it, we can learn new things, including new behavior, new value, new trend, even new markets, if we put it in product management. But this has become a habit for me. So it’s making me to take a step back and observe more. 

Instead of assuming I ask or confirm the facts. Instead of assuming I also choose to validate my assumptions, especially by asking feedback from people around me that also get impacted by [my assumptions]. 

On Call with Insignia: What advice do you have for product professionals who are looking to take on leadership roles or upgrade their career?

Olop: There are a lot of people that will say, “I want to get that big role and everything,” but I will say that I think what’s most important is to find the why: why you are doing what you’re doing. And don’t do it for the money. Being a leader is fancy, it’s great, [there’s] more salary.

Of course, most of us are lucky to be here and I do what I do because I have my own why, which is my own dream to improve [financial] access to Indonesia. It is one that pushes me to learn and encourages to complete my work, measure how impactful my work is, and to find out what learnings that I can share with everybody.

It’s given me the fire to do whatever that I’m doing right now, pushing me to bring the best out of me. So I don’t think that people need to have the same why as me, but I think having the why and having th fire will bring the best out of you. 

On Call with Insignia: What are you most excited about for Brankas’s future with respect to your own function and what can people looking to work with you in Brankas look forward to?

Olop: Well there are a lot of things that I cannot share here. Everything’s just exciting, of course, but I’m excited about the direction that we will take where Brankas defines and introduces trends in open finance, not only to the market but also to the government because we are here to support governments as well to find what is the best that we can get to through open finance.

With open finance, we can make payment can happen digitally without any — in Indonesia, it’s through credit card and virtual accounts, but the problem is it never settles in real-time. So basically if you want to tackle those, so payments can happen digitally and settle in real-time, it’s going to be like the normal bank transfer. 

Sharing your financial data will happen easily and fast as well through open finance so people can get a new chance to [secure] loans. Basically I see loans as a new chance for people, and then sharing your financial data will enables you to get a loan as soon as possible.

And also we have our own vision to enable all the financial institutions to be available online and benefit everyone in [terms of] economic growth. As I mentioned before, the faster money moves [in an area], the faster the growth of the area around it. So if you want to grow Southeast Asia together with us, especially Indonesia or the Philippines, please join us. 

On Call with Insignia: What is your favorite tool to use as a PM? 

Olop: I’m using Trello, I’m using Jira, but the thing is you have to use it. That’s what happened with, uh, with the digital companies nowadays. But the thing is, um, I think I will recommend Excalidraw, it’s a diagramming tool that you can use. It’s very easy to use, and then you can share it to everyone and it’s also free. 

Another one I’ll recommend is Figma. So you can create your own prototype over there and build your wireframes over there. I also tried some pitches with Figma with like a real website and it works.

And then the third one is something that people [may think] is not pretty beneficial, but basically what I want to [share] is the Browser Inspect element. It’s a tool that I think the admins need to use because when you become a product manager there are people that come to you and say, “Hey is not running as I expected.” 

They call it as a bug, but you need to find it first before you give it to your team. So, inspect element became my best friend in testing and validating bugs and doing a lot of stuff because you wanted to see what kind of CSS that they are using. “They can do that, why can’t we?” 

I really love browser inspect because with that, I know which team to assign and which people do discuss with, so for example, is it the backend developer? Is it a front-end task? Is it in beta, this product? So, those are my three favorite tools that I use daily as a PM. 

On Call with Insignia: What is your favorite resource / book / podcast you would recommend for fellow PMs?

Olop: So I think everybody knows this. You just search product manager in Medium and you can learn everything over there. 

But for books, I can recommend like four books that I think it’s a must read for people: 

  1. “Start with Why” by Simon Sinek, right. 
  2. “Inspired: How to Create Tech products Customers Love” by Marty Cagan
  3. “Blue Ocean Strategy” by Renee Mauborgne and Chan Kim
  4. “Lean Analytics”

On Call with Insignia: What do you do to de-stress / self-care?

Olop: Sowhen life gets complicated and frustrating, um, it’s just not even that even in daily activity, I always do these.

  1. So I always keep my time to do my minimal skin care routine.
  2. Get my therapization when I need to. So I think this is something that is pretty hard to be done in Indonesia, because basically, [until recently] what happened [was that] Indonesians will think that either you’re healthy or crazy, but they don’t care about the middle, but basically what [has changed] is you need to understand that you can [get] help if you need to. And you need to seek professional help because sometimes even when you have best friends or lover or someone they cannot help you in you know, in guiding you finding what you need to do with yourself.  
  3. After that I would recommend working out. I do it like maybe three times a week or two times a week. 
  4. If you think you are starting to feel stress or burnt out, I will recommend you to learn anything that is really unrelated to your work. For example, I tried cooking and it works really well for me.
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