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Interviews / Product Managers

Balancing the Grind with Daniella Corricelli, Senior Product Manager at VMware

Daniella Corricelli is a Brooklyn-based Senior Product Manager at VMware, leading projects to improve developer experience for enterprise customers migrating to the cloud.

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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?

I’m a senior product manager in cloud-computing and app modernization. At VMware, I lead projects to improve and define developer experience for enterprise customers migrating to the cloud.

My career first started in fashion photography licensing and art book sales. I loved feeling a part of the creative community, but found myself drawn more and more to coding and product development.

This technical side of me eventually bubbled up and I applied to a software development program at The Flatiron School. This landed me my first consumer-facing tech jobs at start-ups in video conferencing and content marketing.

I love what I do every day. I get to take nebulous problem statements, kernels of ideas, and build-out solutions with talented engineers and designers. Everything about product management suits my hyper-organized, execution-driven personality. I’ve definitely found my niche.

2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?

Every day is different, but usually meeting heavy. I kick-off every day with 9:30 am ‘stand-up’ to sync with my team’s engineers.

Then for example today, I had two user interviews, wrote a go-to-market strategy for a product we’re planning to release in a few months, met with a customer to help unblock them through an issue, and shared great feedback to one of my reports.

Around 12:30 pm is when I break for lunch. This usually means grabbing something quick to take up on my building’s roof. I’m based in Brooklyn, New York so outdoor space isn’t particularly common, but rooftops with skyline views are coveted.

Taking my eyes off the screen for that hour has become more necessary now, so I’m lucky I get to enjoy a beautiful view when I do. By 6:00 pm I try to shut things down and start cooking. On most days I’ve stepped away from work and am eating dinner with Jeopardy at 7.

3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?

Luckily, yes. All of our communication and project tracking is digital, so not much has changed besides where I am. Working with distributed teams through video conference calls and Slack were pretty common even when I was in the office, so not much has changed there.

It’s been a new challenge to find my home routine. Having my machine in front of me lends itself to bad habits of picking up work on the weekends and “just finishing something up” for hours later than I should.

It’s been better now that I have a routine in place.

4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?

Defining time to be engaged and focused on work and knowing when to shut my computer and step away.

Of course this is easier said than done. When I find myself too absorbed I’ve been making an effort to take meetings on my balcony and trying to be a little more deliberate about non-screen time outside of working hours.

I didn’t mean for this to happen, but I’ve been waking up at 6:30 am every day and I start reading. Maybe this is a way to give myself extra ‘me-time’. I also have a standing 9:00 am crossword puzzle date with my girlfriend.

This ritual with coffees and a morning playlist makes the transition into my workday a lot easier.

5) What do you think are some of the best habits or routines that you’ve developed over the years to help you achieve success in your life?


Everytime I talk to another product manager, engineer or designer, I like to ask about their favorite discipline-related book or a framework that’s worked really well for them.

This has been great to source new exercises and approaches to experiment with. It makes me feel like I have a sense of trends and shifts in tech.

Having minimal items on my work desk is another habit I’ve held onto. The physical negative space gives me some mental clarity in a lot of ways.

6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?

Books

Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works by Alan G. Lafley and Roger Martin

I’ve been referencing this framework of goal setting, landscape understanding, market fit and leveraging core competencies “to win” a lot lately.

Resilient Management by Lara Callender Hogan and The Making of a Manager by Julie Zhuo

As a people manager these have been my go-to’s for having meaningful one-on-ones. Shifting from mentor to coach is a personal growth focus I’m working on.

Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions by Dr. Dan Ariely

Behavioral economics is fascinating. This has been one of my favorites for a long time. If I weren’t in tech, I’d absolutely be working in that field in some way.

Podcasts

This is Product Management

Newsletters

UX Collective

7) What is the number one thing you do to make sure you get the most out of your day?

Organizing my Google calendar. This brings me way too much joy.

I don’t only put in the meetings I have, but I use it to block off heads-down work — with the name of the task I need to get done and the docs I need linked in the event description. Reading this back sounds a little over the top, I know.

But having dedicated time for heads-down work without having to dig around for the right resources to get started makes me feel on top of everything I need to do and fully set up to actually get them done. My calendar probably looks overloaded to outsiders, but it makes me feel like I have a virtual assistant.

8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?

Indra Nooyi, former CEO of PepsiCo. After I heard her interview on Freakonomics she became my go-to executive role model. She’s brilliant, influential and a business leader I’d love to learn more from.

9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

Taking a second to remember to be grateful for what I have has served me for a long time. If I could suggest anything to your readers it’d be to take that moment of appreciation.

Today I’m grateful for the people closest to me. I often rely on them to support me and keep me grounded, and that makes me very happy.

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About Author

Balance The Grind gives me a platform to talk to these people about how they're achieving their ideal lifestyle. I'm inspired by the passion, the work ethic, the hustle; and these conversations motivate me to live life the way I want to live it.