Jun/Jul 2019


Pittsburgh PDMA Community,


We are halfway through 2019, and it has been an exciting year so far! We started off the year with our annual Winter Social at the Energy Innovation Center, a LEED Platinum building which highlights how vibrant the Pittsburgh innovative community is by fostering development of new technology and supporting clean energy development. We then learned about applying Lean Startup in large corporations as well as what it takes to be a successful product manager from newly appointed President and CEO of Bally Design, Julie Gulick. Then in May, a panel of educators, from middle school through the university level, discussed how education has changed and where it needs to go to prepare young minds for careers in product development and innovation.


The PDMA mission is to provide opportunities for professional growth for its members and the innovation community at large, and we are continually looking to find new ways to do that. Last year we introduced the PDMA Body of Knowledge training, and we will be offering it again this fall. In addition, we are holding our first “Back to Basics” workshop at the end of June. This workshop, “How to Use Ethnography to Identify Meaningful Insights”, will offer hands-on activities led by an expert group of designers and product developers. This will be the first of several in this series in addition to our traditional speaker series.


Product development is a continually growing and changing field, and for those of us who work in it, we need to change and evolve as well. Our goal at PDMA is to foster a community and provide opportunities to keep up on the latest developments in innovation. You support is vital to this mission. Your attendance and participation have made PDMA Pittsburgh one of the most successful Chapters in the world, and we hope to continue that tradition. We are always looking for new ideas and new people, so please do not hesitate to reach out to me or any of our board members if there are things you want to hear about or if you want to get involved.


Thank you for all of your support, and I hope to see you at our next event on June 26th!


Best Regards,

John Rovnan

PDMA Pittsburgh President

Welcome New Board Members

This spring, we said goodbye to some of our Board Members who finished their terms, and we welcomed some new additions. 

We’d like to send a special thank you to Andreas Maihoefer (Consultant), Connie Palucka (Catalyst Connection), and Phil Thomas (Berner International), Pete Dornsife (Mylan), and Karen Woolstrum (Pitt) for their time and dedication to the Pittsburgh Chapter while on the Board of Directors. Their commitment has allowed the Pittsburgh Chapter continue to grow into a vibrant product development community. Past President Andreas Maihoefer continues to be an Executive Volunteer on the Board of Directors and is the Program Director of the eight-week Body of Knowledge Training.  

We are also excited to introduce our new Board Members: 

  • Chip Chomyn, Managing Principle at AMG Research. Chip was also an original board member when the Pittsburgh PDMA Chapter began in 2010. 
  • Sharayah Follett, Market Development Manager, Kopp Glass
  • Mary Beth Green, Head of Innovation, Sheetz 
  • Matt Holjes, Managing Director, Catalyst Connection 

Please join us in welcoming our new additions to the Board of Directors. We look forward to each of them bringing their expertise to further increase the value that the Chapter brings to Pittsburgh product development community. 

Fall BoK Training Begins August 27thpgh_jun_jul_Picture2.png

For most product managers and product developers, there is a continuous focus on the latest innovations, technologies, and trends in the industry. However, it is just as important to strengthen foundational knowledge of the concepts and principles of product management and development. Applying proven concepts and tools can often spark new ideas, streamline processes, and even change your trajectory.

You’ll have the opportunity to build and complement your foundational knowledge August 27 through October 15 during PDMA Pittsburgh’s eight-week Body of Knowledge (BoK) Professional Development Training Program. Expert practitioners and talented educators will cover seven key product management principles, including:

  • Strategy 
  • Portfolio Management 
  • New Product Development Process 
  • Organization, Teams, and Culture 
  • Tools and Metrics 
  • Market Research 
  • Life Cycle Management

Every Tuesday, you’ll benefit from interaction with instructors of various expertise and backgrounds and participants from diverse industries. At the end of the training program, you’ll walk away with invaluable knowledge, classic tools, proven methods, and new techniques that you can immediately apply in your current and future product development roles.

Whether you are new to product development or product management or have many years of experience, this is a perfect program to build your foundational knowledge. The maximum number of students for the eight-week program is 10, so be sure to register early. Register today!

Download the flyer to learn more!

"Back to Basics" Workshop/Forum Series Begins on June 26th

PDMA Pittsburgh has planned a series Innovation Forums and Workshops that will allow you to get “back to the basics.” This series is separate from the foundational training that the Body of Knowledge program offers, and allows you to learn the basics about specific aspects of product development. The first program focuses on ethnography and organizing/sorting and will be held on June 26th. Future topics include concept creation/development and prototyping for customer feedback.

Each program promotes collaboration and sharing, allows you to engage with attendees to experience associated tools in action in a controlled environment, and provides approaches and methods for you to apply in your product development role.

pgh_jun_jul_Picture4.pngJune 26th Workshop

How to Use Ethnography to Identify Meaningful Insights

6:00 – 8:00 pm @ CMU Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship

During the ethnography workshop, seasoned product development experts will provide a brief overview of ethnographic tools and methods. Then, you will break out into smaller groups to work on a challenging exercise in ethnography. Each group will work together to sort through information/observations using tools that will be introduced during the workshop. You’ll collaborate to align on key insights and will prepare problem statements and value propositions.  

Don’t miss this great opportunity to get “back to the basics” with PDMA Pittsburgh. Register today to reserve your seat.   

Download the event flyer to share it with your colleagues and friends. 

Upcoming PDMA Pittsburgh Events

pgh_jun_jul_Picture5.pngPDMA Pittsburgh has a great line up of Summer, Fall, and Winter programs for you.

June 26: Product Development Fundamentals - Back to Basics: Customer/Consumer Ethnography Workshop @ CMU Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship

July 10: Summer Social for PDMA Board, Sponsors & Friends @ Church Brew Works

September (day TBD): Industry 4.0 and the Digital Age Innovation Forum

September 28: Pittsburgh Product Camp (PDMA Pittsburgh is a proud sponsor)

August 27 - October 15 (every Tuesday): Body of Knowledge Eight-Week Training

November (day TBD): Student Pitch Competition during Pitt/CMU Global Entrepreneurship Week (Nov 18 – 24)

November (day TBD): Company Spotlight Forum

December (day TBD): Product Development Fundamentals - Back to Basics: Idea & Concept Generation

PDMA Pittsburgh is a Proud Sponsor of ProductCamp

pgh_jun_jul_Picture6.pngPDMA Pittsburgh is sponsoring the second annual ProductCamp Pittsburgh. This year's event will be held September 28th at the Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) Tepper Quad. Greg Coticchia, PDMA Pittsburgh Board Member and Executive Director of the Master of Science in Product Management Program at CMU, brought the event to Pittsburgh last year, and is bringing it back.

This "unconference" is a free event that is organized, structured, and led by the people attending it. Product topics are not predetermined, and panels are not prearranged. Everything is determined on-site, on the day of the event.

ProductCamp is filled with product development, innovation, management, and marketing discussions, presentations and workshops. You'll learn best practices, share insights, and make connections with top minds in the local product community.

If you did not attend last year, you should mark your calendar and plan to attend this year. Log on to pghcamp.com to learn more.

Registration will be open soon. Watch your email, Twitter, and LinkedIn for details.

Recap of Spring Events

pgh_jun_jul_Picture8.pngPDMA Pittsburgh held two great events this spring. If you weren’t able to attend, here’s what you missed.

March 26th Innovation Forum: Lean Innovation/Entrepreneurship to Drive Innovation

Bally Design CEO Julie Gulick shared great stories and experiences with lean innovation and entrepreneurship during this informative Innovation Forum. Attendees left with valuable best practices that can be applied to help accelerate innovation in their companies. Here are some of the key highlights of the discussion:

  • Work and communicate cross functionally. It’s important to understand the different teams you are working with and who is on your side. If you are working with engineers, you need to speak their language and understand what information they need.
  • Focus on your customers. Voice of the Customer (VoC) is very important. It’s critical to analyze the key insights, determine the statistical significance, and take action based on what you learned.
  • Understand the process to control the process. Lack of understanding of your company’s process can slow you down. When you understand the process, you can determine who you need to work with to get things done faster.
  • Communication is key. Learn how to tell a story to keep people engaged and interested in what you have to say.
  • Manage decision making. Don’t go into meetings blind. Understand the players in the room. Do your homework. Try to learn about any objections in advance and fix them.
  • Do the right thing… always. Stand up for what you think is right. If something needs to be done differently, say so.

Julie closed her presentation with three of the most important things that she learned throughout her career. Be proud of your work. Love what you do. And have a sense of humor.

May 15th Panel Discussion: Educating Young Innovators

Since young innovators are the future of product development, PDMA Pittsburgh gathered top educators to discuss best practices on how to cultivate innovation and creativity in students of all ages. The panelists included Todd Binning (Franklin Regional), Nicole M. Coleman (Pitt), Francine Gemperie (CMU), Megan Koroloy (Oakland Catholic), Colleen Smith (Penn State). Here are some of the highlights from the discussion:

  • Engage everyone. Projects should include elements that apply to both boys and girls. An example about a robot project was provided, and girls were not so engaged. But once an arts & crafts element was added to the project, the girls became more interested.
  • Create empathy. Students need to have a mental connection with an idea or project. It’s important to help students understand the impact a product or service can have on someone.
  • Spark curiosity. Students need to be excited and thinking about innovation and creativity from a very early age.
  • It’s ok to fail. Students need to be comfortable with experimentation, and they need to understand that it’s ok to make mistakes.
  • Collaborate and compromise. It’s important for students to work together and understand other perspectives. An idea might be great, but it could be even better with collaboration and compromise.

We plan to hold another “Educating Young Innovators” panel discussion in late Fall. We hope to continue this conversation because it is such an important topic.