Meet Jason McCue, a Director of Product Management at Zalando

We spoke with Jason, a Director of Product Management at Zalando. Explore what motivated him to start at Zalando, how he inspires his teams, and what he would suggest to future candidates.

6 min
03 November 2023

Could you please introduce yourself and your role at Zalando?

I'm Jason McCue, I joined Zalando last year in November and I'm the Product Director for Zalando Commerce Platform Sciences or ZCPS for short. I manage all the product efforts for three key areas within Zalando. 

One of the focuses is on digital insights and analytics, aimed at understanding how customers engage with Zalando customer experiences. 

Another is centered on our research team, which explores how we apply innovative research concepts to Zalando. 

The final one is a section which we call PRSB which stands for personalization, recommendation, search, and browse. Think of them as science driven experiences - those experiences that need to be based on leading-edge technology to enable us to deliver an excellent customer experience.

Why did you join Zalando?

It’s a funny story. I was taking some time off after my last role with my family when Andrew Watts, SVP of Product Management who I worked with at Amazon, reached out asking if I knew someone with a very similar skill set as mine. Initially, I was helping the company evaluate how they think about search - and liked the team a lot. I liked the mission. I liked what they're looking for and figured, you know, this would be a good opportunity for me to work internationally at an European company and to jump into new and interesting challenges. Whether or not Andrew was hoping for me to jump on the opportunity, the fit was perfect, and so here I am.

Could you please tell us what keeps you motivated?

For me, a lot of motivation comes from solving hard customer problems and working with great, smart people to support the delivery of improvements for our customers. That's what keeps me motivated. It's understanding what customers are doing, how they're doing it, understanding the problems, and finding the right solutions and capabilities to help them.

What do you love about Zalando culture?

The big thing I love about the culture at Zalando is that it allows me, and the company as a whole, to move forward without the fear of failure. From a cultural perspective, the people are amazing, the conversations are great, but really, it's their appetite for thinking about how we continue our startup roots to move in new and innovative directions. Even if we know we're going to stumble and fail at some point. I think the ability to really introduce dynamic and new things is what I love about the culture.

How would you describe your leadership style?

I would say it's fluid. It really depends on the situation that we're in. I talk to my team individually, and a lot of it is really about what they need at the time. Often, my leadership style involves understanding and ensuring the team can do their job and deliver what they want to deliver. Depending on where they're at in their growth journey, I help them grow, answer their questions, or dive deep with them as we start thinking about how to solve problems. 

Could you please talk about how you inspire teams to build products/experiences? 

For me it all boils down to storytelling. There's always an interesting story to tell to help teams understand how they are helping our customers and partners. Every document that we have needs to be written in a way that anyone can understand and get inspired by what we’re trying to deliver. If you can do that, then you can inspire your team, partners, and customers, as well as others within the company to get excited about what you're doing and even help you deliver it.

What role do your teams play in product management - Fashion Store?

If you look at the different teams, our research team is 100% focused on solving next year's problems using technology. Their understanding of the technological landscape allows us to shift, address, and invest in understanding how to deliver for Zalando. 

Digital Insights & Analytics focuses on delivering product insights for our business. They understand how our customers are engaging with Zalando, both on apps and web and they understand where the opportunities are to improve, driving  value for customers and the business. 

The PRSB team deals with personalization, recommendation, search, and browse, and is a full stack team. They manage the entire experience, from the look and feel to the middle-tier logic layer, to the backend algorithm and technology stack. They build platforms and capabilities to enable flexible customer experiences.

What differentiates your team and makes them special?

We've got a really amazing, smart team passionate about solving customer problems. They focus on identifying the customer's problems and delivering improvements. They look at our relevant data from customer usage patterns or from interviews with customers, to better understand how we make things even easier and better for our customers to use to find the fashion, beauty, or other items that we have on the site. 

The team is driving a huge amount of positive improvements and they're always putting themselves into the customer’s shoes.

What are the top 3 attributes you look for in candidates when hiring?

First, a passion for solving customer problems is crucial, whether it's analytics, applied science, or product. Second, an openness and willingness to discover new ways of working on new innovative opportunities throughout our space. Third, a commitment to learning and growing is essential. I think that makes us all better.

The talent market is fiercely competitive, how can candidates differentiate themselves? 

Candidates should think about themselves at Zalando as if they are already working there, focusing on driving value, improving, and adding value for our customers.  I'd love to see more candidates suggesting using new technology to advance Zalando, or propose new ways to improve the company.  Showing your passion for Zalando and your understanding of what’s happening here can make you stand out.

For interviews, what is one piece of advice you would give to candidates to demonstrate their capability to Zalando? 

Slow down and breathe. We're all humans, we're going to have a good conversation, we're going to talk through things. Come prepared with examples and use them throughout the interview process. Bring in both old and new examples to show that you have multiple sets of experiences that are applicable to Zalando as a whole.

Are you interested in learning more about technology at Zalando and finding your fit? Then click here to explore our tech insights.