Birgit joined Yelp through our acquisition of Qype in 2012, where she had been a product manager for business features. At Yelp, Birgit has continued working on important features for business owners, such as Yelp Deals and helping businesses get started on Yelp. Recently, she was appointed to head up a new team that focuses on features for regional and national businesses with more than 10 locations. Birgit has been recognized as an employee who always “protects the source” (a Yelp company value), and won a prize for her dress-up photo booth project at one of our legendary hackathons. She always takes the stairs (we’re on the 5th floor), always has a document prepared with the details (of everything), and always has a smile on her face.
- What drew you to a job at Yelp initially?
I joined the German startup Qype back in 2010. Two years later, Yelp acquired the company. With this acquisition, we were facing the challenge to migrate the Qype content, users, business owners, and advertisers into the Yelp platform. This was a big challenge for everyone; no one had ever done this before. I realized quickly that being part of this project was probably a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so I decided to stay. And during this migration, I got to know Yelp better. I had the chance to meet and work with great people, conversations were always open and honest, and Yelp turned out to be a fascinating place to work overall. There was something nice about the idea of working for one of the big SF players while still living in Hamburg and it turned out to be the best of both worlds.
- What is a typical day in the office like for you?
Since I am a morning person, the very first thing I do before I go to the office is work through my emails from the previous day in SF (Hamburg’s night). This allows for a gentle start into the day, with a cup of tea, a nice view outside my window, and a few first thoughts about my priorities for the day. I try to answer as many as I can before coming to the office, so I can focus on my team’s needs when I arrive.
Around 10 am, my team gathers for a standup meeting. After that, every day is different! Communication is a key part of my job and I spend a decent amount of time in meetings clarifying priorities, status, and specs with the engineering and design team to keep things on track. Another aspect is managing expectations with internal stakeholders and coordinating my efforts with those of my colleagues in Hamburg and San Francisco. When we are coming closer to a project launch, I start planning the launch strategy and timetable. Since I just took over responsibility for a brand new team, we are still in the process of finding our rhythm, which can be challenging but also very creative.
And last but not least, one of the most important parts of my work is checking our key metrics, searching for future opportunities, and evaluating new ideas from all over the company. This culminates in a quarterly roadmap to which everybody on the team contributes.
- How does this job fit your skill set and what are you most excited about as you continue to grow in your role and at Yelp?
I like deep diving into work topics. Whenever I start working on a new project or change my product focus, I try to deeply understand how everything works, and ask lots of questions. This helps me figure out weaknesses and opportunities, and understand stakeholders’ perspectives (engineers, designers, sales and customer service teams, data scientists, our legal team…) in order to identify the best solutions.
I’m always eager to learn and pick up new skills that help me tackle the ever-changing requirements of the job. Recently my awesome colleagues from the engineering team taught me to write SQL queries on our new data warehouse. So now I’m able to retrieve data on my own, and can work more independently and without any delays.
This is just one example of how my Product Management role changes over time — sometimes slightly, sometimes radically, but consistently throughout the four years I’ve been working at Yelp. It almost feels as if I pursued three different jobs during that time, and I like how the company reacts quickly to new needs — that way I keep moving and learning.
- What’s your favorite thing about living in Hamburg? What are you up to when you’re not at work?
Hamburg is diverse and liberal, and that’s what I love about the city. You can feel it when walking along the Elbe, the river flowing through the city center, which is such an essential part of the city. You will find the Hafencity in the east, Europe’s biggest city development project with architectural highlights and a beautiful museum harbor, next to the more than 100-year-old ‘Speicherstadt’, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A little further west is St. Pauli, the place for fancy restaurants, clubs, my favorite ice cream shop, concert locations, bars, and the red light district. Opposite the city on the southern shore, the incredible container ship harbor spreads out over a huge area, with all its automated logistic systems and robot cranes.
In the summertime, I spend a lot of time outside exploring the city; biking, walking, or just sitting in a sunny place with my friends; joining the office wakeboard crew; and every once in a while, I dig out my skateboard and go to the skate park. Every couple of weeks I enjoy gardening on my balcony — life is so much nicer with herbs and flowers! My favorite recipe for rainy weekends in Hamburg is visiting my favorite independent cinema, cooking awesome food, and Origami folding all kinds of things.
- What are a few of your current favorite local businesses?
I love ice cream! The ice cream from Luicellas is very special, since it’s mostly not sweet and very intense in flavor. My favorites so far are lemon-basil, mango sorbet, and ginger.
The Abaton has a great selection of independent movies. I lived around the corner for a couple of years and considered this cinema my second living room. Instead of dubbing the movies, they are mostly shown in the original language with German subtitles.
For the occasional evening with friends and a glass of wine, I like to go to my favorite wine shop, Zwölf°C. They have a great and affordable selection of decent wine, the atmosphere is very welcoming, and the owner and his mother always have a good recommendation on hand.
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