Alumni Spotlight | Michael Kiss, Product Management

By BrainStation November 1, 2016

Click here for more information about Product Management Course.

Let’s start with an introduction of yourself, what’s your name, where do you live, what do you do?
My name is Michael Kiss. I live in Hamilton with my girlfriend and dog. I’m a part of the Client Success team at Wealthsimple and am responsible for our Wealthsimple for Work product.

What course did you take at BrainStation, and when did you take it?
I took the Product Management course with Brainstation and was part of the Spring 2016 cohort.

What did you do prior to taking your course? What prompted you to take a course?
I’ve done everything from going to bank teller school (yes that’s an actual thing) to launching products at a Big 5 Bank. Part of the benefit of wearing a lot of different hats in the industry is that you have this amazing opportunity to learn about every different type of client and, importantly, where the existing system is failing to do a good job of delivering them value. I’ve always viewed tech as a way to improve the client experience, but I’ve never had any experience with it. It is one thing to understand that a system is broken, but an entirely different thing to help change it. I signed on with Brainstation to empower myself to be a part of that change.

What was the most challenging part of your course?

We learned a lot about figuring out who our target customer is and what they actually want. Going into the course I assumed that I was the target profile for any product. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Changing my thinking around that was challenging, but that shift in thinking has been a huge contributor to success in working with our clients at Wealthsimple.

Did you have a favourite part of your experience with BrainStation?
My favourite part of the experience at Brainstation was the hands-on team working sessions. Everyone in the class came from diverse backgrounds and it was so great collaborating with them to solve problems in unique ways. I loved it.

Did you do work outside of class?

I did a lot of work outside of class from surveying for potential customer profiles to preparing presentations. I found what I enjoyed most was really finding out what people wanted and presenting those findings. Being a voice for clients and helping turn that feedback into a great product is something that’s really exciting.

What do you do now? (if it’s different)
I left the corporate life and joined Wealthsimple, Canada’s largest automated investment service. I’ve spoken with people and seen first hand the frustrations of Canadian investors. Internally, I’m the voice and advocate of the client. We believe in making smart investing low-cost, simple and transparent. I live and breathe those values every day and make sure our clients have an incredible experience every time they interact with the product.

How has the course helped you in your career?
The course immensely helped my career. Not only did it help shift my focus to the people who matter (our clients), it helped me get a leg up on what it’s like managing a product (which I’m now doing with our Group RRSP product Wealthsimple for Work). It really oriented me towards what life would be in an environment of collaboration.

Would you recommend BrainStation to a friend?
I absolutely would. And definitely don’t be afraid to take the plunge if your background isn’t in tech.

Anything else you’d like to add?
Just like Brainstation helps to empower people to learn new skills, Wealthsimple is committed to empowering people to save for their goals. We want to take the intimidation and complexity that might be keeping people from getting started. We want to be there to support Brainstation community members and we’re excited to be offering the Brainstation community their first $10,000 managed for free at