Spring 2021

PDMA Pittsburgh Spring 2021 Newsletter cover

PDMA Pittsburgh logo

Pittsburgh PDMA Community,

I wanted to take the opportunity to introduce myself as the new president of the Pittsburgh PDMA Chapter. I was one of the original PDMA Pittsburgh board members in 2011 and rejoined the board in 2019. I am excited to be leading the chapter this year, and I will strive to exceed the high standards set by the past chapter presidents. I sincerely want to thank John Rovnan for his deep commitment to the local chapter and to the entire chapter board of directors in his role as president over the past two years. Each year, the board members work hard to put together great events that we hope the product development community finds interesting and valuable. We are excited to be delivering three exciting virtual events in the first half of the year. We also have a full program planned in the Fall and Winter, beginning with the Body of Knowledge (BoK) training that starts in late August. With any luck, events may be converting to in-person before that time. We also have a “Back to Basics” workshop and two additional Innovation Forums in October and November. Those programs, combined with Product Camp and the Student Pitch Competition, will make for an eventful year.

As all of you know, the past year has been challenging to say the least, but Pittsburgh innovators continue to excel in these difficult times. This is a true testament to the creativity and drive of our fellow product developers. It is my hope that PDMA Pittsburgh will continue to help to build a strong and connected community.


Chip Chomyn
President, PDMA Pittsburgh Chapter

Board of DirectorsWelcome New Board Members

We are excited to introduce the newest members of the PDMA Board of Directors.

Beth Ezar, PDMA Pittsburgh VP of Marketing. Beth is currently the Director of Marketing and Product Management at ChemImage Corporation – a Pittsburgh-based company committed to making the world healthier and safer through dramatic advancements in chemical imaging technology. She has over 25 years of experience from a variety of areas, including product management, market research, strategic planning, and marketing communications. With a unique combination of creative and analytical ability, Beth is able to offer different perspectives to any marketing or product development initiative.

Alex Trader, VP of Outreach. Alex’s deep experience in connecting with people of all walks of life and backgrounds and a pure desire to help others fuel his interest in technology, software, IoT, and product development. His role as Relationship Manager at Truefit, a leading software product design and development firm in Pittsburgh, is only enhanced by his expansion into the world of IoT as Cofounder and President of IoT Media & Entertainment which seeks to build and establish curated introductions within the Internet of Things industry.

Betsalel (Saul) Williamson, PDMA Pittsburgh Secretary/Treasurer. Saul works as a Systems Studies Engineer at Mitsubishi Electric Power Products – a leading manufacturer of energy-efficient products and technologies. He has been involved with PDMA since 2016 when he started as a student member and began volunteering his time to help with Chapter initiatives. He has diverse work experience including running a small business and consulting in the fields of computer and electrical engineering.

As we welcome the new board members, we are also saying goodbye to several board members. We would like to thank John Rovnan, PDMA President, Brett Fulesday, PDMA Secretary/Treasurer, Jon Veschio, PDMA VP of Outreach, Colleen Wolfe, Director of Programming, Janelle Aslam, Director of Marketing, and Josh Futrell, Director of Programming for serving on the PDMA Pittsburgh Board of Directors. Their leadership, dedication, and commitment to the Chapter has enabled us to continue to grow the community and provide valuable programs to our local product development community.

Being Smart Isnt EnoughApril 26th Event - Being Smart Isn't Enough

We are excited to have Karen Lightman, Executive Director at Metro21: Smart Cities Institute at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), as our featured speaker for our April 26th virtual event:

Being Smart Isn’t Enough – Enabling Connected, Resilient, Equitable and Sustainable Communities through User-Centered Collaboration

The rapid emergence of new technologies is enabling cities to become smarter and more connected. But these days, smart isn’t enough. In order to make a lasting, positive impact on a community, the deployment of technology must also be equitable and sustainable, resilient to the shocks and stresses that we often can’t predict.

Metro21’s mission is to research, develop, and deploy 21st century solutions to the challenges facing metropolitan regions through the use of technology and strong partnerships. During this virtual event, Ms. Lightman will discuss several projects that Metro21 has deployed using this philosophy. She will review best practices and lessons learned on ensuring projects include deliberate and thoughtful user-centered effort, with the community impacted by the project engaged in the design, deployment, and evaluation. She will also share how, through using a user-centered design process, the deployed technology can enable a community to go way beyond just being smart – it can also be equitable, resilient, and sustainable.

During this event, you’ll learn:

  • How smart technologies are being developed and employed in our region
  • How to build equitability and sustainability into technology deployment
  • Approaches to large-scale problems and how to leverage partnerships
  • Best practices and lessons learned on keeping a user-centered focus in smart technology applications

This webinar will be held from 6:00 - 7:00 p.m. on Monday, April 26th via Zoom Meeting. Registration is free for PDMA members, and $10 for guests/non-members.

Learn more and register today!

Upcoming EventsUpcoming PDMA Pittsburgh Events

Check out PDMA Pittsburgh's 2021 calendar of events. We are currently finalizing the details for the Fall and Winter programs and will publish an updated schedule soon.

If there is a topic that you would like the Pittsburgh Chapter to consider for a future event, please send an email to pghpdma@pdma.org.

April 26
Being Smart Isn’t Enough – Enabling Connected, Resilient, Equitable and Sustainable Communities through User-Centered Collaboration; presented by Karen Lightman, Executive Director at Metro21: Smart Cities Institute at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU)

June 7
Data Science for Product Managers; presented by David Steier, Distinguished Service Professor in the CMU Heinz College School of Information Systems and Management

August 24 - October 12 (every Tuesday)
Fall Body of Knowledge Training Program

ProductCamp Pittsburgh (sponsor)

October & November
- Back-to-Basics Workshop: Topic TBD
- Innovation Forum: Pricing for Value - Market Research Techniques
- Innovation Forum featuring Steve Engstrom, Market Research Consultant,
Duneland Market Research (former Executive Director at Hill-Rom)

Student Pitch Competition - CMU, Duquesne, and Pitt

Winter Social Event

To view a full list all PDMA global events, log on to pdma.org.

March VoC Virtual Workshop Recap

Voice of the CustomerWhen do you know enough about your customers and can stop VoC? This was the first question that was posed to participants at the March 10th Voice of Customer (VoC) virtual workshop.

Event facilitators Mandy Ruppert (Beyond the Table Research), John Rovnan (ISACA), and Andreas Maihoefer (EnSo Consulting) teamed up to share proven VoC methods, tools, techniques, and personal experiences. Each of them covered specific VoC topics and gave participants time to complete relevant exercises.

Their first order of business was to answer the initial question – when do you know enough about your customers and can stop VoC? The answer is never. Because VoC provides such valuable insights, you should continuously engage with your customers to prove or disprove your assumptions. VoC enables you and your company to make educated business decisions and can provide direction that you may not have previously considered.

Key workshop takeaways included:

  • Develop a project charter to establish the mission, frame the scope, identify the core team, determine the project timeline, and plan the potential scale of the research project, based on the available budget.
  • Determine which customer groups should be interviewed by identifying the number of segments that ensure an appropriate representation of the anticipated target customer universe. Use experience and existing market data to select no more than 6 to 10 distinct segments.
  • Prepare for customer visits/interviews by creating a balanced approach to data collection. Design a customer interview guide by identifying broad areas that you want to explore. This is not a questionnaire; it merely provides a framework for the interviewer to follow.
  • Interview dry runs and practice interviews are a must. Demonstrations of a bad interview and a skillfully executed interview helped participants get ready for their own practice using specific scenarios and the previously developed questions.

Due to the great feedback and the participants’ desire for more practice, the facilitators agreed to hold a bonus session with additional exercises and more tips and tricks for a great VoC process. The bonus session is only available to participants of the original workshop and will be held in early April.

We would like to thank Mandy Ruppert, John Rovnan, and Andreas Maihoefer for creating valuable content and exercises that allowed participants learn VOC methods and tools.

After the workshop, one participant shared the following feedback: “It was really refreshing to attend a workshop where it didn’t feel like there’s a hidden agenda or ongoing sales pitch throughout – just genuine people sharing their expertise, really engaging.”

If you would be interested in PDMA Pittsburgh hosting another VoC workshop, or if there is another workshop topic that you would like us to consider, please email pghpdma@pdma.org.

PDMA Body of KnowledgePDMA Pittsburgh Trains Other Chapters to Offer BoK

PDMA Pittsburgh was the first of the 18 PDMA Chapters around the world to offer the Body of Knowledge (BoK) Training program locally. Andreas Maihoefer, Volunteer Executive Director and Past President, has been leading the Chapter’s training efforts since Pittsburgh’s first BoK class in the Fall of 2018.

Other chapters have recognized the value of offering the BoK program to their own product development communities. Several chapters have asked Andreas to help them establish training programs in their areas. Currently he is working with chapters in the US, South America, Asia, and Europe.

Pittsburgh’s BoK success can be attributed to four key factors:

  1. Valuable course content derived from the Product Development and Management Body of Knowledge: A Guidebook for Training and Certification, Second Edition
  2. Dedicated trainers that cover their areas of expertise and share their own experiences to make the content relatable
  3. Enthusiastic participants who are interested in learning foundational product development and management principles, methodologies, and tools
  4. A strong focus on enhancing the training by gathering feedback from participants at the end of each session and making associated improvements to ensure the program continues to meet the needs of participants

The Spring 2021 class included six enthusiastic participants who successfully completed the training program. We would like to thank the participants and instructors for making the virtual training an engaging and fulfilling learning experience.

During the last class of this session, we gathered feedback from the participants on how we can improve the program in the future. We also asked them if they would recommend the training to others. One participant gave the following recommendation that seemed to sum up the sentiments of the class:

“I have many years of industry experience as well as academia, so I can see both sides. From an advanced product management standpoint, there is a lot to gain from this training, and I would recommend it. A lot of the course material was familiar, but it opened my eyes to different tools that I could take even further. I would also recommend the training to new product developers as well. I feel like it will launch them faster into their role.”

Fall BoK Training Dates Announced
The Fall 2021 training will be held every Tuesday, August 24th through October 12th. We will determine the class format (in-person, virtual, or a mix of the two) in mid-July (based on state and federal Coronavirus recommendations). We will only be accepting eight participants for this session. Registration will open soon. Be sure to register early to reserve your spot. Full refunds will be provided if we have to cancel the session due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

PDMA Member Registration BoK Discount
If you are a PDMA member or if you join PDMA, you can take advantage of the discounted registration rate for the Body of Knowledge training. You’ll save money, and you’ll have access to all of the other benefits that membership offers. Learn more and join today!

PDMA MembershipIt's a Great Time to Join PDMA

A PDMA membership is within your reach. There are now several new membership levels available, and membership has never been more affordable, starting at just $35 for a basic individual member.

Membership levels include:

  • Individual Membership – you can choose Premium ($195), Professional ($95), or Basic ($35)
  • Corporate Team Membership – this is a group membership that includes a primary contact plus at least three employees
  • Academic Membership ($120) – this is an individual membership for anyone associated with academia
  • Student Membership ($30)– if you are a student, you can join as a student member

PDMA CommunityWhen you become a PDMA member, you will be joining a global network of talented innovation executives, product development and management practitioners, and academia who are dedicated to professional growth and achieving greater levels of success in their career. You will also be able to take advantage of the many valuable benefits that membership offers, including:

  • Access to product development and management tools and resources, including PDMA’s Body of Knowledge (BoK), Journal of Product Innovation Management (JPIM), webcasts, publications, and more
  • Access to the PDMA membership directory that allows you to connect with professionals in the industry
  • Participate in local and national learning opportunities, including webinars, workshops, panel discussions, and the annual conference
  • Receive free admission to many national and Pittsburgh Chapter events as well as discounted registration rates for the Pittsburgh Body of Knowledge Training

Log on to pdma.org to learn more and join the organization.

PDMA Thank You SponsorsThank You to Our Sponsors

Company sponsorships are very important to the PDMA Pittsburgh Chapter. Their support enables us to provide the local product development community with valuable educational programs and events throughout the year.

We would like to thank all of our sponsors for their continued support.

AMG Research Kopp Glass
Berner International LeanMed
Big Idea Center MKTabc
CMU Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship Oracle
Cohen & Co Philips Respironics
Covestro Project Brilliant
Duquesne University Small Business Development Center SmartHammer Innovation
EnSo Consulting Truefit
  University of Pittsburgh

If you are interested in sponsoring the PDMA Pittsburgh Chapter or would like more information, please contact Alex Trader, PDMA VP of Outreach, via email: atrader@truefit.io.

Please email pghpdma@pdma.org if you have any comments, questions, or suggestions for PDMA Pittsburgh.
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