Pascal is an impact-driven entrepreneur known for his excellence in product management. His endless positivity drives him to conquer any challenge that comes his way. Beyond work, he finds peace high up in the mountains, deep down under water, or on the couch with his girlfriend. At Othis, he is the responsible driver to transform the founders' visions into highly successful products.
Can you share any financial or entrepreneurial influences from your upbringing that might have shaped your career choices?
When people asked me which career track I aim for, “Product Management” was never my answer. I've always strived to be an entrepreneur myself (I still do) and I was always driven by complex problems. At the end of the day, a product manager is here to solve problems. To be a good product manager, you need skills in three main areas: Business, Technology, and Design. If I look back, I've constantly developed my knowledge and skills in those three areas, be it organizing events with thousands of people as a DJ, building beautiful websites on the weekend, studying business & artificial intelligence, or failing with many startup projects. It was only a matter of time before I stumbled upon product management, and fortunately, I had the opportunity to dive into it at the leading neo-broker and digital wealth manager, Scalable Capital.
You seem to have a strong entrepreneurial drive with an urge to face new challenges. Can you trace back where this drive comes from?
Definitely the environment in which I grew up. My parents have been self-employed for as long as I can remember, which comes with pros and cons like everything else in life, but the pros outweigh the cons. Being an entrepreneur gives you freedom. I've always looked up to freedom and dreamed big. That keeps me moving.
There is a notion that entrepreneurial minds might not always focus on academics, but you've clearly debunked that by ranking first at a prestigious European university. Was this a personal goal for you?
No, this was never a personal goal for me. Also, I don't consider myself as extraordinarily intelligent. I'm a strong believer that academic achievements are the result of consistent hard work, as many things in life are. For me, hard work is the causal variable, and I am convinced that this also applies to entrepreneurship. However, hard work means not only that you put a lot of time into it, but it also involves that you approach topics with a solid strategy, which comes from experience, mostly from failures.
You have built a lot of FinTech experience. What got you interested in this space?
I would not say "a lot." As Stefan mentioned in his Q&A, you need to be "very honest and self-reflective about what you do not know (yet)." The FinTech space grabbed my attention already in high school. The week I turned 18, I opened my first brokerage account and bought my first stocks. At that time no one within my Family & Friends had experience with stocks. Usually, the people I knew just gave the money to their regional bank. Along the way I saw the value of investing and the potential of using technology. This got me into the space.
Having led the engineering team for the wealth offering of Scalable Capital, what learnings and experiences do you bring into Othis?
At Scalable Capital, I learned how to build, operate, and shut down products from the best talents in Europe. I got a 360° view of product management, and if I had to choose three key learnings, they would be:
1. Never assume: As a PM, you must ask "stupid questions" to make sure no one makes wrong assumptions. It's your job.
2. Discovery over Delivery: As a PM, you need to be deeply involved in Discovery and make sure the business hypotheses get validated with experiments.
3. Know your areas of responsibility: As a PM, everyone comes to you with questions and requests, but you need to be well aware of your responsibilities to not get lost.
Since I was the only product manager for the wealth offering at my time, I was responsible for the product from onboarding to cancellation. I had to learn a lot about the regulatory environment, booking and taxation rules, investment strategies, trading systems, performance marketing, technical infrastructure, and a lot more. As the only product manager for a product, you are the go-to person for everyone in the company. It was challenging but rewarding at the same time since I could build up experience in different areas quickly. Now it’s time to deploy all my learnings and experience at Othis where I have the unique opportunity to build up a product from 0 to 1.
As Othis grows and evolves as a FinTech startup, what kind of product culture do you hope to cultivate here?
A product culture similar to what I’ve experienced so far. Product needs to be the "heart" of the company. The primary responsibility of the heart is to pump blood throughout the body. In a tech company, product collects and distributes information from customers, stakeholders and all internal employees. For our culture, this means product needs to be transparent, approachable, and open-minded.
We'll, of course, build on our company culture, but specifically for product, I would like to maintain #10 principles that guide our thinking process.
#1 We start with the problem
#2 We aim for simplicity and consistency
#3 We adhere to rules
#4 Data over opinion
#5 Security over everything
#6 We over-communicate and never assume
#7 Transparency enables trust
#8 We challenge the status quo
#9 Small iterations over large
#10 We are obsessed over customers, not competitors
Lastly, what are you most excited about at Othis?
Working on very complex problems with a group of diverse, highly talented and smart people.