IT Arena 2018: Product Speakers and Topics

September 10, 2018

Every year IT Arena brings over experts from all around the world to share best practices in the city of Lviv, Ukraine. With a high concentration of the world’s top brands, IT Arena Product Track has already gained the popularity of one of the biggest product development events in Eastern Europe. Today, Markiyan Matsekh, Head of Product Track, tells us what makes Product Track’s lineup unique in 2018, and why that’s an event not to miss if you’re are a PdM.


For me as a product manager, it’s an absolute fun to recruit speakers for IT Arena’s Product Track. And it’s even more fun to announce them and see them interact with local crowd. This article will shed the light on product speakers and topics at IT Arena conference 2018. It’s meant for product managers looking for professional growth, for people who work with PdMs and those who want to become one. I hope you will find the product leaders below as exciting as do I. Not only will they be sharing their expertise via public talks, but they’ll also be available to meet informally in person during coffee breaks and answer your personal questions.

For context: IT Arena, held on September 28–29, 2018, is a technology conference aimed at connecting East Europe’s tech scene with the rest of the world. It hosts ~2500 guests and was named Ukraine’s best tech event in 2015, 2016 and 2017. Product Track is one of 4 tracks and is centered around Product Management. Here is a quick overview of speaker lineup for Product Track 2018:

And here is a brief overview of the topics (see respective speakers below):

  • “Lessons Learned from Leading Growth Teams @ Google”
  • “Designing Your Product’s Continuous Feedback Loop”
  • “Strong Engineering Culture. Strong Product Culture”
  • “Data-driven Product Decisions”
  • “How to Design for Behavioral Change”
  • “Managing Products for Maximum Impact. Stories behind Uber and Tesla”
  • “What a Product Manager Needs to Know About Code Quality”
  • “How to Get Media Attention”
  • “Measuring Product-Market Fit Quantitatively. Setapp and Slack examples”

Below is a detailed info about each speaker and their topic. You can also find them on the official website, along with the agenda.

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Thabet Alfishawi

Growth product manager at Google Assistant, ex-Youtube
Lessons Learned from Leading Growth Teams @ Google”

Thabet has worked on growing Youtube to today’s scale for the last 8 years and switched to growing Google Assistant last year. He’s also a board member at Product Management Festival, one of Europe’s biggest product conferences. Beside that, he was a management consultant with McKinsey & Co., a policy advisor with an Egyptian presidential campaign, an investment professional, a technologist at Procter & Gamble and MBA from Stanford. Wow!

In his talk, Thabet will reflect on a couple of his experiences being part of and leading high-performance growth teams. Thabet has led growth teams at startups with only thousands of users, to large platforms like YouTube with more than a billion daily active users and he will reflect on what worked, what didn’t and what he has learned.

As a bonus, Thabet wanted to do an extra talk on product manager’s career path, though it didn’t work out schedule-wise. But for anyone interested in the subject — feel free to catch him at coffee breaks and ask around!

Sachin Rekhi

Founder & CEO at Notejoy; ex-Head of Product at Linkedin;
Designing Your Product’s Continuous Feedback Loop”

Sachin is a serial tech entrepreneur and product executive based in Silicon Valley. He was Head of Product for LinkedIn Sales Navigator, a fast-growing LinkedIn premium subscription service targeted at sales professionals with over $200M in revenue. Prior to LinkedIn, Sachin founded and sold two startups and worked as a product manager for Microsoft. Sachin recently left LinkedIn to return to his startup roots and founded Notejoy, a collaborative notes app for your entire team. He also advises multiple startups on their product strategy.

At his talk, Sachin will talk about customer feedback. As he puts it, many product companies do not maximize the value of customer feedback: many companies treat it as a point in time activity rather than a continuous process, don’t organize it for easy access across the organization, don’t integrate it into product roadmap, or don’t utilize all feedback channels. Sachin will address all of these issues and will give you an ultimate guide on how to treat customer feedback to maximize its value.

From my brief communication with Sachin, I can tell that he’s got numerous exciting stories up his sleeves, and he shared many of them(more than 125 to be precise) in his famous blog(e.g. how PM’s career ladder looks at Google, Facebook, Amazon etc or what’s the difference between entrepreneur and PM etc). For anyone who’s a startup founder or a product manager(or better both!) pursuing Sachin for advice is a must!

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Andrew Martinez-Fonts

Group Product Manager at Yelp, ex-eBay
Strong Engineering Culture. Strong Product Culture”

Andrew has a degree in Product Design from Stanford University and spent the first five years of his career as a digital product designer at various agencies. Since 2003, Andrew has been a product manager for tech companies including eBay, Prosper, and Silver Spring Networks, and joined Yelp as a product manager in 2011. Since arriving in Hamburg in 2016, he manages a team of product managers and designers in Yelp’s Hamburg office, which focuses on products and features for business owners.

In his talk, Andrew will share how Yelp balances engineering and product culture and how this leads to better product decisions. This talk can be very helpful both for engineers and product managers in terms of developing empathy for each other.

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Josh Twist

Product Manager at Facebook, ex-Principal PM at Microsoft
Data-driven Decisions”

Josh managed a portfolio of products generating well over $100MM in annual revenue. To get there, he has tried most things in tech, starting as a software engineer (and winning the title of UK Developer of the Year) before moving on to technical consulting where he built a lot of empathy with customers big and small. Building on that experience, Josh left the UK to work for Microsoft as a Product Manager on their Azure cloud platform before eventually joining Facebook where he leads product for Facebook Analytics. Outside of work, Josh is fanatical about skiing, a DIY enthusiast and loves to travel.

In his talk, Josh will share his experience in making decisions based on data and fighting biases. This is particularly interesting as he’s working on one of world’s most data-rich products — Facebook Analytics. It doesn’t get better than that!

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Matt Wallaert

Chief Behavioral Officer at Clover Health, ex-Director at Microsoft Ventures
“How to Design for Behavioral Change”

Matt is a professional behavioral scientist, who also happened to have built and sold two startups, led Microsoft Ventures in New York, and is now world’s first Chief Behavioral Officer in healthcare, changing the model of insurance by changing behavior.

In his talk, Matt will touch psychology and how to design products for behavior change. He introduces us to the conflict of promoting and inhibiting pressures within humans and how pushing the right spots can trigger people for action. For example, Matt shares how conflicting we feel towards M&Ms, why we want to eat them or why we want to resist, and how M&Ms product managers address this conflict. It’s amust-attend for designers, product managers and anyone who works with people.

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Vasily Starostenko

Staff Product Manager at Tesla, ex-Uber
“Managing Products for Maximum Impact. Stories behind Uber and Tesla”

Vasily’s career might be the most inspiring for East Europe’s product community. He started in Moscow’s Institute of Physics, worked at a number of Silicon Valley startups like BitTorrent, got MBA at Stanford, led driver growth and driver experience at Uber and now he’s Product Manager at Tesla, working on customer acquisition.

In his talk, Vasily will explain what he means by building for impact and key pillars for this: understanding customer problem, experimenting and aligning organizational structure around customers. One of the stories he will share is from his time at Uber, where they released a feature they considered successful, but customers disagreed.

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Michael Rutledge

Senior Product Manager at OLX Group, ex-Amazon Audible
What a Product Manager Needs to Know About Code Quality”

Michael started out as a marketer and then shifted into product management within companies like American Express, Audible(Amazon company), and now OLX. His most recent task was leading agile product and engineering transformation within Emirates Airlines in Dubai.

In his talk, Michael will highlight the dark side of Lean Startup approach and how to manage it, i.e. how focusing only on business metrics can slow down the engineering team in the long run. He will talk about balancing short-term and long-term product goals and building a truce with the engineering team.

As a bonus, I’d recommend grabbing a coffee with Michael for anyone who tries to grasp how product management culture differs across companies. Michael experienced first hand a variety of different product cultures within 7 companies which I believe gives a great perspective.

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Myriam Joire

Startup advisor, consultant, entrepreneur. Tech journalist, podcaster, speaker. Developer, queer. Ex-Pebble, ex-Engadget
How to Get Media Attention”

Myriam Joire (tnkgrl) was born wearing combat boots and holding a keyboard. Moments later she picked up a soldering iron. She’s been stomping, typing, and hacking ever since. After spending years being a code-monkey in the video game industry, she joined Engadget as Senior Mobile Editor and later Pebble as Chief Evangelist. Today she hosts the weekly Mobile Tech Podcast, guest hosts and writes for a number of major publications, and advises startups on product/media strategy with her unique combination of hardware and software development experience and media knowledge. She’s been a keynote speaker, panelist, and presenter at conferences such as SXSW, Web Summit, Mobile World Congress and more.

In her talk, Myriam will share her priceless deep understanding of how media works, what is a reporter’s mindset, how to position your product for media, how to pitch them to get their attention, and most importantly — what not to do.

I was lucky to work with Myriam when launching a Kickstarter campaign for my startup Senstone and I learned all this from her directly at work. I can’t stress how helpful this was. Not only in shaping the messaging and boosting the launch, but also in shaping the product itself.

pavlo pedenko

Product Manager at, ex 1+1
“Measuring Product-Market Fit Quantitatively. Setapp and Slack examples”

Pavlo is one of the central figures of Ukrainian product community. He drives ProductTank Kyiv community, organizes ProductHunt meetups in Kyiv, co-founded Growth Marketing Stage, the first growth marketing conference in Ukraine, and mentors startups at both Google Launchpad Accelerator program (Worldwide) and Startup Wise Guys (Latvia). Beside community work, he’s a distinguished product manager. He worked on 1+1’s(Ukraine’s media giant) digital products; led Macpaw product) to 23k paying customers, $2m ARR and consumer product of the year(according to Product Hunt Golden Kitty Awards); and recently co-founded Raply, an app that helps amateur rappers to improve their flow.

In his talk, Pavlo will unravel mysterious and frequently overused Product-Market Fit(PMF). As he puts it: “Every product team wants to achieve it, and almost no-one knows how to measure it.” During this talk, he will walk us through PMF survey that gives product teams a way of measuring PMF qualitatively. As a bonus, real Slack’s and Setapp’s PMF survey results will be shared.

Pavlo is a special appearance in this list, as he will also be moderating the product track on Saturday, September 29. Small tip: if you want to spark a specific discussion with some of the speakers, you can ask Pavlo beforehand to take your question during Q&A(as long as it’s relevant) 😉

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Semyon Dukach

Managing Partner at OneWay Ventures, ex-Managing Director at Techstars

Formally, Semyon is not at IT Arena’s product track, he’s the keynote of IT Arena conference. I couldn’t fit all exciting facts about Semyon in this post, but here are few teasers: he led one of the MIT blackjack teams to beat the casinos in the early ’90(depicted in Hollywood movie “21”), he invested in ~100 startups, 15 of which made successful exits so far, and he co-founded One Way Ventures to back the most awesome immigrant entrepreneurs (because immigrants don’t buy round trip).


For everyone coming to IT Arena or considers to come, we would very much appreciate the feedback regarding the topics published. Speakers are still fine-tuning their presentations and are very open to adapt to the needs of the audience.

Again, I’d like to stress that the value you get from attending such an event is not only the speech but the ability to talk to these world-class professionals in person and ask your own questions. Besides getting help with your immediate pains, I’ve witnessed this resulting in hires, long-term advisors, and partnerships.

If you’re interested, you can purchase tickets on the official website with 15% discount with promo code ProductArena. Beside speakers above, there are 3 more tracks(Startup, Technology, Business) each with ~ 10 more speakers, and there’s plenty of afterparties and bonus events. It’s a real treat if you ask me! Hope to meet you there soon!