Andrew Tokeley


Andrew is New Zealand's only full time, independent, Product Leadership Coach and has been involved in product leadership before he, or anyone else in New Zealand, even knew what it was! His product career officially began in 2009 when he joined Xero as their first dedicated product hire and built a world class product leadership team that was critical in growing and supporting a customer base that grew from 17K to over 560K in only six years. He later joined virtual reality startup, 8i, as Global Head of Product, bringing human holograms to the world, including attracting over 1M downloads of their world-first Holo app. Since founding his product leadership coaching business in 2017 Andrew has been on a mission to raise the understanding and practice of product leadership across the country. He works with product leaders and companies ranging from early stage startups to large corporations looking to modernize their product practice. In 2015 Andrew founded Wellington’s largest product community, ProductTank, one of the largest meetups in the city and attracting national and international expert speakers to keep the product conversations going. In a previous life, Andrew was a statistician, wrote code for a living and was even a banana picker for a while.

How will coaching shape the future of product over the next 5-10 years?

In New Zealand (NZ), my research has found that 70% of executive level product leaders (CPO, VP Product) have never held a previous product role. They are accomplished leaders, but haven't necessarily experienced what good product leadership looks like. They are also relatively disconnected from NZ's burgeoning product community, whose membership is typically less senior or even pre product career. Coaching these executive level product leaders is critical to evolving product culture across NZ. They are the most influential product people in with the right coaching can make a huge impact on the success of business across NZ.

What are some of the most effective frameworks you've used when coaching leaders in your area?

To be honest, I am not a big believer in frameworks. They tend to over simplify the complexities, shades of grey and human dimensions that are critical to deal with as an effective product leader. This is especially true when coaching more senior leaders, who engage directly with senior leadership or Boards. For these people it's less about frameworks and more about product principles and the experience in attempting to (and failing to) live up to them. Over the years, I have developed and visualised key concepts around strategy, teaming models, roadmapping... but they are more about helping coachees to adapt them to their own needs rather than following a framework.

What's your best advice for product managers looking to increase their impact?

The most important thing a product manager can do is to constantly review, communicate and champion how the leading measures of success their team(s) are chasing map to the often lagging measures strategy is defined by.

Anything we should know about you as a thought leader in the area of product:

I am the only full time Product Leadership Coach in NZ and have worked with almost 50 product companies over the last 4 years. Love NZ's product community, founding first NZ ProductTank in 2015. I influence mostly 1-1, sometimes speak at meetups, rarely post articles and never tweet :-)