Strategy: A high level plan to achieve one or more goals under conditions of uncertainty
That’s Wikipedia’s definition, and of course, there are myriad other definitions as well as thousands of articles that exist trying to define strategy. Defining strategy commands a substantial amount of space in the world’s most prestigious business journals and has made careers for great business minds such as Michael Porter and Jim Collins.
All this ambiguity and uncertainty around exactly what strategy is helps explain why when I sat down with Superior Glove’s Product Strategy team and asked what it is they do, I received some fascinating, yet complex, responses.
“As Product Strategy, we basically handle products throughout their entire lifecycle – from inception to the point where it gets discontinued,” explained Market Research Associate, Daniel C. “We identify new market opportunities, decide what markets we’re going to go after, what products are going to be marketed and how. We define the target market segments for each product and identify the competition. When a product is green-lit, we help with the initial purchases and stock decisions. We’re also constantly reviewing our product line-up to see where the greatest value is and deciding what can be brought in and what needs to be phased out.
In a nutshell, Product Strategy is the overarching umbrella of everything to do with our products.”
Meet the Team: Product Strategy
Redefining “small but mighty,” this four-person team [including team leader, Hollie Mader] handles the multitude of responsibilities that fall under the rather large umbrella of product strategy. Not only is the team lean, but it’s relatively young as well with the most senior member having been with Superior Glove for less than three years.
“We’re a new team, and I’m the newest,” says Product Specification Specialist, Diana D. “I actually applied for a completely different job, nothing to do with product strategy, but given the technical skills and experience I have, the Product Strategy team created a brand-new role for me.”
Diana isn’t the only one who had a role custom-made for her: both Matt C, Market Research and Product Development, and Daniel started their Superior Glove careers in different factions of the company and had roles created for them.
“I started out as a Business Development Associate (BDA) right after school,” shares Matt, the longest-standing member of the department. “When I moved to product strategy, it was just me, and now we’re up to four and still growing. I used to handle both market research and product development but once we recruited Daniel to the team, I turned my focus more towards development.
My job is basically to take products from inception to market. I work closely with Daniel and learn from him what market needs to fill. From there, I actually build the product that our research says the market is demanding and bring it to life. I work closely with both Diana and Daniel to develop prototypes and then I’m responsible for turning the best ones into real, functional products we sell to our customers.”
Daniel also started as a BDA out of post-secondary and has been in the position of Market Research Associate for a little over a year.
“This is a new position, new department, and I’m fairly new to the industry – but that’s what makes it interesting! We’re all learning as we go, and it has been an incredible experience building this department very literally from the ground up to what it is today.
In my role, I liaise with all levels of the organization. I work closely with every single department, even the president – how many people in their second year of work can say that? My main role is to identify and prioritize market opportunities. People talk to me about what’s happening in the market – problems they’re having, product gaps they’ve come across – and it’s my job to do the leg work and figure out A) if there is a market opportunity worth pursuing, and B) whether or not it’s something we can do. Sounds simple enough, but there’s a tremendous amount of research and work that goes into each and every market issue we explore.
Once a product is approved for development, I hand it off to Matt for prototyping and pick it up again when we’ve got a prototype ready for trial. Once we’ve got the product to a place where it’s ready to launch, I develop the positioning and buyer personas for marketing and work with them to create the best launch strategy.”
Of course, no team is complete without the glue to hold it together, and that’s where Diana comes in. Working with both Daniel and Matt through the entire process, it’s Diana’s job to become an expert in all products, learning the intricacies and specifications that go beyond what’s available through marketing and specification sheets.
“Allergies are a big one,” explains Diana. “I’m constantly getting questions about whether a particular product is free of latex or silicone, or whatever the concern may be due to an allergen or cross-contamination. It’s very rewarding, each day is something new, a new challenge. You can never know everything about a particular product and it takes quite a bit of research to figure it out.
In my position, I’m very lucky to be able to work closely with our team in the lab, which gives me a unique perspective on how our products are developed and tested.”
Working at Superior Glove
Having both started their careers at Superior Glove, Daniel and Matt were especially appreciative of the opportunities provided for learning, education, and career growth.
“I’ve gotten such a broad experience working at Superior,” says Daniel. “It’s a great environment to foster learning, there’s always the opportunity to get your hands into something new.”
I appreciate the respect that the company has for work/life balance,” added Matt. “Even though this is my first job, I’ve heard through colleagues that in other companies there is an expectation for employees, especially in their first years, to work really long hours. It’s different here. The leadership truly espouses family values and supports employees.”
Diana, the only one who has worked somewhere other than Superior Glove, loves that things never stay static.
“It’s so dynamic here – things are always evolving. Since our CEO is an innovator, I think that spirit trickles down through the company. Our team leader Hollie is very good at always pushing us to be forward-thinking and looking for out-of-the-box solutions. I’ve never experienced an energy like this before and it brings such excitement to my work.”
On a Personal Note…
As the creators and nurturers of Superior Glove’s product line-up, of course I had to ask each member about their favorite glove and a personal fact that makes them unique.
Daniel the Unassuming Rock Star
“I’m an avid guitar player,” says Daniel. “When we recently launched our nitrile metal-detectable disposables with a metal music theme, I was super excited.
My favorite glove has to be the S10NXFN. Not only because it’s an amazing glove, which it is, but also because I have a personal attachment to it. This was the glove I selected for my father to keep him protected at work. He’s in corrections and was constantly in danger of being poked or cut by sharp objects and would frequently come into contact with drugs when doing pat-downs. He needed something dexterous enough to allow him to perform an effective pat-down but still keep him protected from whatever he might find. The S10NXFN fit the bill.”
Diana the Animal Lover
Known for saving bugs that find their way into the office and carefully letting them go outside, it wasn’t a surprise when Diana revealed herself as an animal lover.
“I love animals, all kinds. I’m a flexi-vegetarian because of my love for animals and have an adorable pug named Mai-Ling.
When it comes to our gloves, I have a hard time choosing a favorite, but I must say that our line-up of impact gloves is incredible. We’re actually working on some pretty exciting new developments in terms of impact protection, so stay tuned… lots of great things will be coming soon!”
Matt the Weekend Golf Fanatic
In the summer, it’s impossible to catch a glimpse of Matt without his signature tan – and that’s because when he’s not in the office, he’s playing golf.
“I love playing golf, it’s my favorite way to spend a day.
As for my favorite glove, I have to choose the S18KGDNE. It’s an incredible glove – one of the world’s first 18-gauge arc flash gloves – and it was one of the first projects I worked on here at Superior Glove. It was a great experience and I’m really proud of how it turned out.”
We’re Growing… Join the Family!
The Superior Glove family is a dynamic team that’s always looking for great new additions to our stable of talent! If you’ve got what it takes to make it with this exceptional, fast-paced team, send your resume and cover letter to [email protected].
Visit our Careers page to view our current open positions.