by Ashley Villanueva
The unique UC Berkeley Master of Engineering curriculum covers a breadth of business and leadership topics through 6 units of coursework offered in compliment to the technical courses and capstone projects. A pre-semester intensive of “bootcamp” classes offer an interactive, participation-based experience.
I sat down with Martina Lauchengco, Marketing & Product Management lecturer, to discuss what makes this bootcamp experience so unique. She’s been teaching this course for 6 years and counting.
In Martina’s Marketing & Product Management bootcamp course, students gain exposure to a wide variety of product and marketing approaches, technologies, and business models. This year’s class immersed themselves in the business mindset by examining three real-life companies, including LucidCam, MEng alumnus Han Jin’s start-up (IEOR ’15).
Over the course of ten days, they analyzed, brainstormed, diagnosed, and offered recommendations of each business’s product marketing efforts to date. In their research, the class directly interviewed, surveyed, and tested 5,880 people, a 12% increase from the previous year’s class. Interviews and surveys were more global than ever this year spanning over a dozen countries. Below is summary of the most interesting market test results:
- Insight analysis of 10,000 tweets for what drives positive and negative sentiment around an application
- Created an event puzzle builder to test importance of factors in event planning in isolation of an application
- Tested people’s innate competitive spirit by having them do a simple test, then asked if they wanted to know the results
- Asked students and teachers about online studying at bake sales
- Went to different Best Buys and Targets to get a sense of how virtual reality (VR) is understood in brick & mortar channels and where price points place products in the store
- Conducted intercepts at malls and Union Square/Civic Center in San Francisco to let people experience VR and see how much it influences their perceptions
At the conclusion of the course, Martina shared these collective insights and more with the three companies to consider in their respective strategies.
What is your background?
Academically, I recieved my Bachelors degree in Political Science and Masters degree in Organizational Behavior at Stanford. Professionally, I started at Microsoft in Product Management, then progressed into different marketing/product management roles at Netscape, Loudcloud, and Workiva. Eventually, I started working on my own, providing strategic consulting in marketing, product management, and organizational behavior to start-ups. I also started teaching with the Silicon Valley Product Group and now also serve as an Operating Partner with Costanoa Ventures.
How long have you been a lecturer with the Berkeley MEng program? And how would you describe your experience throughout the years?
I have found teaching with the MEng program really energizing. I love teaching engineers because they probably have the biggest misconceptions of what marketing is — so it’s an opportunity to facilitate that light bulb moment. My greatest joy as a teacher is seeing an engineer understand the product marketing side of their work.
“I love teaching engineers because they probably have the biggest misconceptions of what marketing is — so it’s an opportunity to facilitate that light bulb moment.”
What keeps you coming back every year?
I come back every year to experience that light bulb moment again and again. And in my work outside of the MEng program, I often spend my entire day working with people that build products and don’t have that product mindset. Teaching Marketing and Product Management at the Berkeley MEng bootcamp each year is a way for me to help future engineers develop their product mindset.
What is different about the way you and the other lecturers approach the “Business of Engineering Leadership?
We don’t just talk about the product or mindset in isolation or in theory. In addition to discussing case studies, we challenge them to experience it and figure their way through real-life companies in the market today.
How would you describe the importance of marketing in this day and age?
The road is littered by great technology that is not marketed well. It’s more important to be well-marketed than technically great in this day and age. And with both, you are a great force! A company can always make up the technology gap, but if a big marketing gap exists, more often than not, that takes much longer to overcome.
What do you see as some of the biggest challenges and opportunities facing engineering leaders and/or product marketing in the next five years?
Achieving differentiation is the ultimate challenge — every technology landscape has become so crowded. It’s very difficult to sound unique and people are so saturated and inundated with media that they just turn off. How you differentiate your product/service will change over time, but I see this as a perpetual issue. Engineers must think of how to position their products to be clever, interesting, and authentic. Being able to stand out in the market place is the single biggest challenge.
“Being able to stand out in the market place is the single biggest challenge.”
In terms of opportunities, engineering leaders who are compelling communicators, that have a vision behind their beliefs, will stand out. The students that stand out to me, are the ones that see things clearly, can communicate them effectively, and immediately apply that in a market context. Engineers that can do these things effectively are on another level of competiveness. Engineering leaders must be able to write and blog about their products and industry. It’s no longer sufficient to just be good at what you do technically.
“Engineers must be able to write and blog. It’s no longer sufficient to just be good at what you do technically.”
Catch @MavinMartina at Costanoa Venture’s annual Seat at the Table event on May 9, 2018. Tickets will be released in early March 2018.
Seat at the Table is an event open to anyone wanting to help women in technology grow in management positions at every level. The panel of industry rock-stars at all levels of management will share their best advice on how to navigate skills, standards, bias, and career turning-points to help you manage your own path. #techseatattable
The magic of marketing & product management in today’s digital age was originally published in Berkeley Master of Engineering on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.