Virtual tea break and chat with Mike Lee, Lead Product Manager

Virtual tea break and chat with Mike Lee, Lead Product Manager

I sat down with our very own Mike Lee, Lead Product Manager here at LloydsDirect. Voted by our team as top Slack-er 2021, a keen sourdough baker and only recently did I find out he was a former part-time model! We chatted about all things Product and culture at LloydsDirect and what he is excited to see over the next months here!

1. Who are you and what team do you work on?

I am Mike Lee and I work as part of the Tech team more generally, but more specifically as part of the Scout product team, which is our new greenfield product team.

2. What’s the goal for that team?

It’s quite interesting, it’s a new team and it’s a representation of LloydsDirect’s ambitions to try and find some new products and services for new and existing customers.

3. How did you get into Product Management?

It’s actually a really weird story! I‘ve been at LloydsDirect for two and a quarter years and I initially joined the Data team. I was doing that for about a year and a quarter, when one of our product managers went on maternity leave. I had been working really closely with two of the product managers we had at the time, so I knew I found their work really interesting. I also knew that they were doing some stuff that I wasn’t good at and wanted the chance to get better at. I asked our Chief Technology Officer at the time if I could cover that role, and he thought it sounded like a great idea! Fast forward, the product manager who I was covering for decided not to come back as she was going to move back to New Zealand. The role became available permanently and I decided to step into it.

4. What tools do you use daily? (apart from Slack)

Good question, definitely lots of Slack. It’s interesting really, as a Product Manager there aren’t necessarily many tools to use. Your role is a lot more about communication and making sure people have a shared understanding of things. We use some tools like Linear, for tracking tickets and I use Notion a lot as I end up writing lots of information down. But really, a lot of what I do is talking to people and communicating, which is why I use Slack an awful lot or obviously jump on video calls or face to face meetings. We do use tools like Whimsical to make flow charts, Miro for virtual whiteboards and sometimes jump into Figma during chats with designers.

5. What has been your favourite project you have worked on at LloydsDirect?

Good question! I used to work in our Operations Technology team, where the focus for the team is all about finding ways for our pharmacy to do things more efficiently. One of the projects I worked on was called ‘Stock Allocation’ which was a little bit controversial as our launch plan wasn’t perfect, but in theory we were trying to move from a system where we didn’t really reserve stock for patients in particular places, to reserving stock. It was a highly technical project and I really like technical things. I like getting into the detail and as a team we found a very good solution that worked really nicely. When we first launched, we had a few teething problems, but the way the team pulled together was awesome. A theme at LloydsDirect is that sometimes things do go wrong, but when they do, everyone all piles in to try and help and it’s so great to see. It was a time that we didn’t quite get our launch right, but I learned a lot from it and it was humbling to see how many people jumped in and helped. We managed to eradicate a whole set of problems by having this solution in place, which was really cool to be part of.

6. What are you most excited for in the next six months, at LloydsDirect?

I generally think 2022 is a really exciting year for LloydsDirect. We’ve got a bunch of new people in Technology, we’ve got new product teams, new focuses, and ideas. We’re also building a team that I’m part of, so on a personal level I’m really excited about getting really deep into some of these opportunities and working out where we want to go. I’m excited to start testing ideas with patients and seeing what they like, what they don’t like and refining our ideas down. On a broad level, I’m excited about how much energy everyone has and I think we are going to release so many awesome features and solve many problems that our patients may have.

7. How would you describe the culture at LloydsDirect?

What I’ve learned over the past couple of years, especially through pandemic times, is that it’s really important to me to work for a company that is trying to do a good thing. It’s really hard to argue against our mission, which is to simplify pharmacy for our patients, so they can access and manage their meds easily. As we have such a strong mission, it really helps drive a culture where everyone knows that if we help each other, good things happen and we achieve better outcomes for our patients. We’re also not working to live, we want to have fun whilst we’re doing it. Yes, we will do some complicated things and sometimes there is lots to do, but everyone is super excited about the work they’re doing.

8. Best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Every situation you find yourself in, you are not a passenger, you make your own decisions and you choose how you react to things. I can’t summarise that down, but nothing happens around you, you are a master of your own destiny, you can always choose to take different situations in different ways.

9. Interesting fact about you?

The one that people always think is quite funny is when I was a child, between the ages of 8–13, I was a catalogue model. I was posing next to toys, early learning centre or BHS type catalogue stuff. My mum, as all mums, thought I was exceptionally beautiful and so she decided to go down that route of trying to see if I could make some money out of it. To be fair, I did and went on some cool skiing trips!

10. Weirdest snack habit?

During lockdown, I got into making sourdough, which I still make like every weekend. I’ve got a bad habit of nipping downstairs at around 3pm, slicing myself up a piece of bread and putting all sorts of weird and wonderful toppings on. I normally open the fridge, scan and think ‘that could be good on bread’ and try it. Sometimes it’s normal things like jam, other times it’s something slightly more unusual like miso paste.

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