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Connector Spotlight: Ivana Ciric

Ivana Ciric

Ivana Ciric

Practice Director, Product

March 23, 2022

Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes

Rhubarb, Chili Pepper, and Mango might be items on a shopping list for most people. But, for Ivana Ciric, Practice Director, Product – it’s just another day at the office. We’d describe her as an old soul and a romantic who isn’t afraid to get a little physical. And if you ask us, we’d say her consistent impact at Connected is at least partially fueled by her ability to remain disconnected. And she has no shortage of ways to do that – with photos to prove it.

Tell us a bit about the projects you’re working on?

If you’ll excuse the produce-themed nomenclature, currently I’m working on Projects Rhubarb, Chili Pepper and Mango; all of which involve developing retail demo software and firmware for consumer electronics.

Part of what makes Connected and Connectors thrive are our rituals, and since the remote-first shift, old ones have been reimagined, and new ones have been implemented. That being said, I’m involved with one such effort for our Product Guild, including our Product Practice Forum – a safe space for Product Managers and Product Strategists to seek “just-in-time” support and guidance from their peers on product challenges. 

What’s the most interesting challenge about the project?

Anytime you’re releasing software for retail environments, you need to ensure that the software is robust enough to enable a delightful customer experience even if the device is in a store environment you don’t control. Unlike in the home, retail environments can experience poor or nonexistent internet connectivity, unpredictable customer behaviour, interrupted power supply – who knows. And sending field technicians to stores to diagnose and correct issues can be very costly. This means that we have to anticipate and mitigate a fluid set of variables without setting foot in the store.

The other challenge (but also a blessing) of working with consumer electronics in retail stores is that so many vendors and teams have to align for a successful delivery – hardware, software, marketing, creative, infrastructure. While the logistics can be at times a bit challenging, it certainly provides you with the opportunity to learn from a diverse team daily. 

Where did you work before Connected?

I worked as a digital wellbeing coach and trainer, ensuring people understood how to use technology in a way that helps them live according to their values. I taught a 6-month coach training course focusing on all aspects of digital wellbeing and beginner coach training. As a Product Manager, I use coaching skills every day to help my team members and clients succeed.

What achievement are you most proud of in your career to date?

That would be convincing a client at a very large, traditional organization to shift to a dual-track working style. Early in our relationship, the client-focused on execution on an unclear trajectory and an undefined product. With the help of some talented Connectors and our methods, I led the team to define their vision and strategy and then engage in a very different way of working to discover, deliver and measure the impact of a large enterprise product. 

Every step of the way, we validated the four risk areas and prioritized them based on value delivered to our end users. The result: an ongoing partnership where Connected helped shape the client’s Product practice. Oh, and customer demand for the redefined product continues to grow.

Do you have a mantra you live by?

“To hold our tongues when everyone is gossiping, to smile without hostility at people and institutions, to compensate for the shortage of love in the world with more love in small, private matters; to be more faithful in our work, to show greater patience, to forgo the cheap revenge obtainable from mockery and criticism: all these are things we can do.” ― Hermann Hesse

What do you love to do outside of work?

I started dancing at a young age with traditional Serbian dance and performed for years, travelling internationally for conferences and festivals. Since then, I’ve been fortunate to have learned many other forms. In a world where we are so attached to and distracted by our devices, it is a gift to be able to devote time and attention to physical practice. I also love to disconnect during long hikes (I have recently taken up foraging, too), through my photography, and through my yoga practice.

If you were stuck on a deserted island, what album, movie, and book would you take with you?

Album – Jelena Ciric’s EP Shelters One  

Book – Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse

Movie – Can I bring another book?

Describe yourself in three words. 

Explorer, learner, thinker.

And finally, what’s your favourite product and why? 

Currently, Google Lens. It’s a great example of how technology can enhance our physical experiences and help us connect with others and with nature. I love discovering and learning about different plants and mushrooms on my hikes. It’s intuitive to use, easily accessed and contains multiple functions to help us understand the world around us while hiding the underlying technologies’ complexity. And it can have a profound impact on the lives of those who cannot read or need to communicate in an unfamiliar language.

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