Meet the Product Manager Series
Welcome to our interview series, "Meet the Product Manager"! In this series, we showcase various product managers and share their insights on their roles, experiences, and learning paths. This time, we had the privilege of interviewing Bjorn Vuylsteker, the Chief Product Officer at WeGroup.
Keep reading to learn more about Bjorn's journey, how he got the position of CPO at WeGroup, how he ensures ongoing learning in his role, and much more!
Bjorn Vuylsteker — CPO @ WeGroup
What led you into product management?
Well, think of it as falling down a rabbit hole, but in a good way! Back in university, we had this year-long course on Project Management that felt like an entrepreneur's playground. We had to come up with an idea, build a team, create personas, workflows, use-cases—you name it. As the team swelled to eight people, I found myself at the helm, steering the ship, and you know what? I really really enjoyed it, and that reflected in the grades as well!
This ‘playing the puppet-master’ thing led me to take a leap of faith and co-found WeGroup in 2017. I started out as a techie, a CTO, until our front-end lead sat me down one day in 2021 and was like, "Hey, you are juggling eight different jobs and to be honest, you should focus more on the product side of things." And that's when my deep dive into Product Management started. I didn't look back and took on the CPO mantle at the start of 2022.
What does a typical day look like for you?
So, picture me as the guy at the traffic junction, only I’m coordinating sales, PMs, devs, and designers instead of cars. My role is all about syncing these different departments and offering data-driven insights to steer the ship. A typical day? I'm busy collecting customer feedback, working closely with our design team on reworks or launching new features, ensuring our customers are happy, and even dissecting user journeys. And guess what? I also get my hands dirty with our AI projects because, honestly, they're too cool to resist!
What are you currently working on?
Ah, we’re cooking up something special—a big 2.0 version of our platform. In the past, tech wasn’t advanced enough to truly make that big impact on the insurance market. But, thanks to the recent leaps in AI, we’re back in dreamland, working on proof-of-concepts that are gonna flip the sector upside down. So, stay tuned because the boring stuff is about to be history.
What piece of work are you most proud of?
That has to be our "Company Scan." Launched mid-2022, it’s this part of our platform that lets insurance brokers and agents evaluate business risks and needs of commercial clients. What makes it special is how we’ve infused solid Product Management principles throughout its development. We listened to the market, iterated, optimized, and finally launched a tool that the industry didn’t just want but actually needed. Plus, it gave our sales a killer boost right off the bat!
What are your favorite tools to use during work?
Hubspot: This is like the Swiss Army knife for me, great for customer success, automated interviews, feedback loops, and even penning down product documentation.
UserPilot: All about guiding users through their journey. It’s like having a personal concierge for each customer.
Mixpanel: Think of it as the Sherlock Holmes of data analytics. Who’s doing what? Are users following our intended path? This tool has the answers.
ClickUp: Planning and executing product roadmaps? ClickUp is the organizing guru we all need in our lives.
How is your product team structured?
Since adopting a product-first focus in 2022, I’ve been the CPO and the go-to PM guy in Belgium. As we expanded internationally, our Dutch country manager, Arjuna Bosch, took up the PM mantle for the Netherlands. And throughout this journey, our Product Designer Michaël Schauwers has been key in having that spot-on UX/UI interfacing, collaborating closely with our clients and the development team.
What product or feature have you been blown away by recently?
Let's talk about the wild, wild west of AI! Seriously, the leaps and bounds this space has taken in just a few months could make your head spin. If I had to put my finger on one game-changer, it would have to be ChatGPT. Yep, the very thing that’s probably scripting your customer service replies, or maybe even your next screenplay. What's killer about it isn't just its smart functionality, but the strategy that unfurled as it was launched.
See, ChatGPT didn’t just sprint down a narrow path of one use-case. It threw open the gates and said, "Hey, imagine what you could do with me!" They unleashed a simple API and user-friendly interface, coupled with some thoughtful guardrails for safety. And just like that, they kicked open the doors for aspiring PMs, startups, and well, pretty much everyone, to get out there and turn imagination into reality. It’s like giving a blank canvas to millions of artists— each able to paint their own world.
What do you do to stay up to date and become better as a product manager?
For starters, reading. Books, newsletters, the occasional X post—you name it. It shows me just what is possible in different use-cases, what frameworks people are using, what works and does not work in certain situations. And it makes for good conversation food at the coffee machine.
But man, never underestimate the power of community! Last summer hit me with a sort of inspiration drought. You know, feeling like you’re surrounded by the same old, same old, and you’re kinda thirsty for fresh perspectives? That's when I started The Product Consortium. Imagine it as a gathering of CPOs, Heads of Product, and PMs, with a sprinkle of enlightening talks. Every quarter, we get together to swap stories, trade ideas, and help troubleshoot each other's roadblocks. It’s been a goldmine of learning for me, and hey, the fifth edition is just around the corner!
Any recommendations for aspiring product managers?
“Consume as much information as possible” - devour information like it’s your favorite comfort food. Tons of killer resources are out there, waiting to make you smarter, faster, and more adaptable. Dive in!
“What works for others, might not work for you” - don't just blindly replicate what seems to be working for someone else. Your product, your market, your challenges—they're your unique cocktail. A one-size-fits-all approach won’t do you justice. Adapt and tailor things to fit your specific landscape.
“Dare to experiment, but mostly learn” - make hypotheses and set up situations to test them out. Define what success or failure looks like for each one. And regardless of the results, treat every experiment as your personal sensei— there’s always a lesson there, if you’re open to learning it.