Behind the Unicorn Magic: Get to know the VGV Team

Meet Tanesha Smith-Wattley, VGV’s Head of Product and Program Management

November 9, 2023
November 9, 2023
updated on
April 19, 2024
Guest Contributor

Tanesha's Background

Tanesha's educational journey began with a degree in Fashion Merchandising from Ohio State University. She later relocated to New York City, where she embarked on a series of internships and jobs within the field of fashion journalism, magazines, and editorial publishing:

T: My initial consulting experience began with a design consulting firm. But before that, I had worked in various consumer-facing sectors, spanning luxury fashion e-commerce, online grocery ordering and delivery logistics, and even biometric identity services. Reflecting on my earlier career, I was initially unsure about the diverse experiences, and unsure of my true professional identity. However, as it turned out, my broad background was a perfect fit for consulting.

I discovered that it gave me a valuable perspective on how people behave online in different contexts. I could identify the particular characteristics of each business and this allowed me to apply it to different clients. I am glad that I spent a lot of time in-house before consulting because I know what the internal teams are up against when they're trying to make decisions and make a difference within their organizations. I have empathy and sensitivity to that.

Transitioning from consulting for a design-focused agency to a technology-driven one, as we are here at VGV, has allowed me to be flexible and adaptable. I'm passionate about consulting, helping businesses solve their problems, discussing these solutions, and sharing my knowledge to empower others to do the same.

Role at VGV

Can you describe what you do currently at VGV? 

T: I started working at VGV at the beginning of this year, January 2023, to introduce the product practice formally. While there were product management activities happening before I joined, I formalized it as an offering for our clients. About six months later, I also took on the Program Management team to provide a holistic view of client services from end to end, from a delivery standpoint. My main tasks are focusing on program success, client management, delivery efficiency, business goals, and product success in the market. So, it's not just about getting projects built but making every effort to ensure their stability and optimizing them for success.

I like to look for opportunities and inroads every day with clients to provide alternate thoughts and challenging assumptions. I really enjoy the fact that I get to talk to all members of a given delivery team, internal and external. Building relationships is crucial to the success of our programs, and in both product and program management, it's all about building trust and strong relationships.

It's clear that your experience and expertise make a significant difference in our projects. What are some common challenges you face in your role, and how do you approach solving them?

T: One common challenge in product management is the misconception that you should be decisive from the start. In reality, it's about gathering sufficient evidence before making decisions. I believe in getting team members to draw their conclusions based on indisputable evidence, data, and rationale. We aim to empower them to make informed decisions rather than providing explicit instructions. It's essential to understand the why behind the answer to influence future decisions and conversations.

What are some of the projects you've worked on at VGV that you're particularly proud of?

T: The projects I'm most proud of are the ones that foster collaboration and knowledge sharing between teams. To me, partnerships are about mutual learning, not one side taking over the other. It's about true integration. I find projects that involve applying product practices to complex problems to be particularly rewarding. They serve as a reminder that you don't always need deep domain knowledge; well-thought-out practices can provide value in various domains. We've tackled projects in areas like data visualization and household consumer goods, both of which can range from being intricate to seemingly simple, but we always respect the complexity that can exist, even in the most straightforward tasks. It's essential to never make a client feel like their problem isn't valid or important, as even the simplest of apps mean everything to their owners. Any project that reflects our humanity, empathy, and our ability to solve a problem because it matters to someone makes our work feel meaningful and impactful. At the end of the day, you want to know that you've made a positive difference.

Looking Forward

It's evident that you're passionate about the work and the team. Looking forward, what impact do you hope to achieve through your work in the future?

T: My goal is to operationalize our work efficiently while maintaining a personal touch. We want to scale our processes and have adaptable protocols suitable for businesses of all sizes. This way, we can spend less time in indecision and more time delivering value to our clients. We aim to provide consistency and routine in our approach while remaining flexible and agile.

Who is Tanesha beyond VGV?

  • Born and raised in the suburbs outside of Cincinnati, Ohio. 
  • She has lived in Brooklyn, New York City for more than 20 years now. 
  • Married and mother of two beautiful girls and a dog. 
  • Hobbies: Arts, fashion, languages, connecting with people, her family, gardening, walking the dog to the park, baking, and discovering different restaurants. 
Connect with Tanesha on Linkedin >


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