How Chris Miller Went From Graduating in a Terrible Economy to VP of Product at HubSpot
HubSpot is hiring on pocitjobs.com
Tell us a little bit about what you do?
I’m the VP of Product at HubSpot. I’ve been here for almost five years. I oversee growth and FinTech. The growth team is the group that drives our freemium and self-service book of business. We’re responsible for all parts of the product journey and the freemium business. This includes how people sign up for HubSpot, how they adopt the software, and how they expand their usage through learning, like with HubSpot Academy. I help form the strategy, keep us accountable to the metrics and create an atmosphere for our teams to do their best work.
What was your first role in tech?
I went to Boston College and graduated in 2009. That was a terrible economy right after the market crash. I knew I wanted to go into tech, but I didn’t have the background. I was a sociology major. I had to figure out how to market myself to whatever opportunities were out there. My first job out of college was working at a tech nonprofit, doing grunt work tasks like online forum moderation, and content management.
With limited experience and a bleak economy, how did you get into product management?
Product management, as a defined role didn’t start to become widespread until 2005. At the time, tech companies didn’t even have product management as a function. But one day, my boss said the cure to all of our problems was to hire a Product Manager. That same day I Googled what a Product Manager was. I went back to him and asked him to give me a shot. I got the opportunity, I learned on the job, and 11 years later here we are.
How did you find your way as a Product Manager?
After I left my first tech role, I went to another startup called Runkeeper (a fitness app), where I found my lane. I went from being a generalist to focusing on growth. I figured out how to build a product that grows a business without hiring sales reps to sell that product. I went deep into problem-solving and learned what it meant to be a growth practitioner.
What makes HubSpot a great place to work?
First is the people. The people I have the privilege and pleasure of working with are probably the smartest group of people I’ve ever met. I’m rarely ever the smartest person in the room and this helps me constantly grow and learn.
Second is the culture and autonomy. When I first got here, I was waiting for someone to tell me what to do, but I quickly found out I had to make the calls for my team. HubSpot gives you the room to understand what the problem is and figure out a solution.
Third is the leadership team. They showed integrity in how they handled the pandemic and everything after the murder of George Floyd and Black Lives Matter. They’re about action and putting their money where their mouth is. They also have a deep appreciation of preserving the culture they built. As a company that scaled from startup to a multi-million dollar business, they’ve really created something special.
How is HubSpot about action?
Rather than letting white voices dominate the conversation, HubSpot has stepped back and let Black HubSpotters lead the way and develop a plan. We’ve established our first ERG for Black HubSpotters — it’s a dedicated space specifically meant to amplify Black voices. HubSpot has also partnered with Howard University to open up The Center for Digital Business and has recently announced a new Black Advisory Board. HubSpot is doing a lot of the right things without hesitation.
What advice would you give for someone trying to make moves to more a senior tech role?
You have to get out of your comfort zone where you get stuck and you don’t even realize you’re standing still. You have to figure out what’s the next thing you need to take on. You have to push yourself to do something that may be scary or that you’re not good at. You have to be an advocate for yourself, especially as a Black person. You can’t wait for people to advocate on your behalf. You have to have a radical sense of self-belief.
Finally, what does success look like for you?
It’s been a fun journey for me at HubSpot. It’s been amazing to build a large, high performing growth team from scratch. I take a lot of pleasure and purpose in mentoring and watching people move into product, develop into leaders and then outgrow the nest.
When people leave my team to run growth teams of their own, or they get asked to do speaking opportunities, I think, ‘Wow, I could be working for this person.’ That’s so exciting for me. I’ve had a hand in helping someone’s career develop to the point where I would be proud to work for them. That’s the pinnacle right there.
HubSpot is hiring on pocitjobs.com