Melissa Maat is a Product Manager and has worked at RedBalloon for more than seven years. Mel has had extraordinary career progression in that time, starting out in Customer Experience, and now finding herself as a manager in our Business Partners team. Here she tells us a little bit about her time behind the big red door.
I started in the Customer Experience team in 2010 - taking calls, responding to emails, doing general customer support tasks. I was at the coal face of customer needs and interactions and it meant I learnt a lot about the business from day one. I was in the team for 18 months before moving into what was then called the “offline” team, which was basically RedBalloon's first iteration of physical gift products, which has now morphed into our sister brand Wrapped.
From that role I was promoted into the product team as a coordinator - working closely with our suppliers, loading products, leading supplier communications, campaign support, sourcing deals. It was a role that gave me an intimate understanding of how RedBalloon supports its business partner community. From there a colleague went on maternity leave, so I stepped in to cover her role as gift product manager for Wrapped. That role lasted eight months and I learnt so much - how to negotiate with suppliers and understanding the cycle of bringing a product to market. I felt really challenged in this role and I learned so much in a short time.
When my colleague returned from maternity leave, I moved back into our product team, but this time as a manage overseeing our team of product coordinators #Ivebeeneverywhereman.
I am now in the role of Product Manager in our Business Partners team. Every role has it’s challenges, but I love where I am right now and I’m learning a lot. It’s completely different to anything I have done previously at RedBalloon and I'm on a steep learning curve. But I feel supported every step of the way. I'm looking after our supplier portal; enhancing the user experience for our partners; and working closely with the development team to build features to support our suppliers and partners. I also get to sink my teeth into special projects and lead the Business Partners team on that.
My first interview was actually a group interview where I met with members of the Customer Experience team and we chatted about me as a person, not just a professional. I knew from that moment I'd stumbled on something pretty special.
There’s so much! I was only 22 when I joined. The most valuable thing I have learnt is the skill to negotiate. I used to struggle with how to turn a sales or confronting conversation around, and now I enjoy the challenge. Understanding the reason behind the other person's perspective is key to a good outcome. I always try to understand their perspective before telling them mine. When you turn that around the difference is massive. I use that skill every single day.
That would be my most recent promotion into Product Manager. My role has changed from a very non-technical role, to being far more cross-functional and technically-driven. I also need to understand marketing cycles and financial implications, targets and budgets in a way I never have before. I feel I am getting far more general business knowledge and a full picture of what makes the RedBalloon business tick.
Our skydiving santas world record for sure! My dad turned up on the day and got to do a skydive. He was blown away by it and sharing that experience together was something I'll never forget.
Go for it! There’s so many opportunities for growth and career progression here. I wouldn’t be where I am today if I hadn’t turned up for the interview in 2010. I tossed up whether to turn up on the day - I even called my mum for her advice. Since that day she hasn't stopped saying how lucky it is that I decided to go.