Alex Nelson is the Global Head of Product Management for ZX Ventures, where she designs and implements technology solutions to deliver outstanding customer experiences. Alex previously started her own VC-funded business, worked in product management at Google, and has consulted with dozens of Fortune 500 companies.
We recently sat down with Alex to hear how the ZX Ventures team is different than others she’s worked with and what keeps her challenged at work.
How do you do things differently in product management at ZX Ventures?
We think and act like a startup - we’re scrappy, we’re action-oriented, and we stay focused on results and getting things done. We quickly get to a solution and get that solution into the market, and then we learn from it. For example, we were trying to create an ERP, or enterprise resource planning, solution for one of our e-commerce businesses. My team put together a quick and dirty proposal. It was cloud-based, it would cost $50 a month, and we could get it running in two weeks. Another team prepared a separate proposal from a big business perspective, but that solution cost $400,000 and would take six months to implement. The business owner chose the first option. We’ve had the same experience working with Shopify, which provides us with functionality on an e-commerce platform that we don’t need to build from scratch. Once we get it up and running, we can invest in custom components where we need to.
How has ZX Ventures kept you challenged over the course of your career?
I’ve worked with a lot of big companies, and it’s so interesting how engaged and excited the executives are about the entire opportunity here. We have great ideas coming from all levels, and we’re constantly asking how we can build a strategy or a business around each new idea. We get to take people’s brilliantideas and then start working on them, assembling resources, putting together a team, creating a small product, and then scaling it globally. It’s amazing.
What are the highlights of your career, and what brought you to ZX Ventures?
I’ve always been interested in solving tough challenges that have an impact on a large number of people. When I was younger, I thought I’d find that in the automotive industry. Developing a better car would reach and impact so many people. But, as I progressed through my career with consulting, then e-commerce, and then Google, I realized I was moving closer and closer to technology. When I had my twins, I still felt the same commitment towards my career, but knew that if I was going to leave my children every day, I wanted to love what I was doing, and I wanted my work to be challenging and high impact. When I heard about ZX Ventures, it seemed like a great chance to do all of that—working with a fantastic group and with technology to solve big problems on a global scale.
How do you help new hires get started at ZX Ventures?
One of the main ways I try to guide new people is by helping them cultivate their sense of self. We hire incredibly smart people. They’re often early in their career, and this may be the first time they’ve been put in a leadership role. So I try to teach them to trust themselves and their intuition. And ensure that they understand they are responsible for setting and communicating the direction for each project. People who succeed here are proactive, comfortable with ambiguity, and able to lead.