Voices of Nium with Matthew Farrugia: From Junior Business Intelligence Developer to Principal Product Manager

6 Minute read
10 months ago

Matthew Farrugia, Principal Product Manager based in Malta, has walked the walk and talked the talk in global travel payments for over a decade. In this blog, we invite you to sit down with Matthew to unpack his deep passion for this niche industry and pick his brain to understand how he steered his career path with Nium from Junior Business Intelligence Developer to Principal Product Manager. 

The travel industry operates on razor-thin margins. Nium supports travel companies to navigate a rapidly changing travel landscape. Nium’s payment solutions help travel intermediaries and operators efficiently pay travel suppliers around the world, optimizing every transaction for maximum profitability. Read more . 

1. First things first – when you were younger, did you imagine yourself pursuing a career path where problem-solving is paramount like it is now? 

Definitely. I wanted to become Malta’s next Prime Minister, a role requiring many problem-solving skills! From an early age, I was always quick to ask “why” and naturally had an enthusiasm for detail. During my university years, I learned how to channel curiosity into productivity. Impactful problem-solving requires dedication and a very open mind. Today, as a Principal Product Manager, I feel I have been able to harness my skillset so that it translates into solving complex challenges for the customer. 

2. Other than Malta being famously known for its warm climate, beautiful coastlines, and mesmerizing architecture – how would you describe the opportunity for tech and product enthusiasts at Nium in Malta? 

Malta is a museum in the Mediterranean. We’ve got megalithic temples older than the Egyptian pyramids and a rich culinary landscape. There is also an impressively large expat community in Malta. The narrative amongst locals is sometimes that the island has limited opportunities, but I beg to differ. The market is small, but there are some very high calibre roles for ambitious and talented individuals - we are actively recruiting! As a technology and product enthusiast myself, I think the biggest opportunity at Nium is being able to get stuck in and get your hands dirty. We take customer success seriously and the sky is the limit in terms of how we challenge ourselves to serve our customers best. Those new to Nium should be prepared to strap themselves in for an epic ride! 

3. What does a day in your life look like as Principal Product Manager? 

Simply put, my responsibility is to create travel payment products that bring value to our customers from a global perspective. The foundations of my day are nestled in two core objectives – discovery and delivery. Product discovery is a continuous process. We gather insights that help us to identify problems and strategize toward solutions. We examine the industry by deep diving into competitors, exploring trends, researching enabling technologies, doing data analysis, and spending time with people who can offer feedback and spark ideas – clients, industry experts, and internal operators, to name a few. Product Delivery is where we provide Nium’s internal team and players with what they need to build exceptional products.  

4. How would you say your role impacts the business?  

I resonate with the words of Marty Cagan, a Silicon Valley guru, who once said that the best products are “valuable, useable, and feasible.” There are days when I look back and realise that I’ve been part of a team that transformed an idea into an innovative product, which makes me incredibly proud. The process is complicated, it’s never linear, and a lot of cross-functional alignment is necessary, including with business and tech stakeholders. Still, seeing a product launch and create a positive impact is so rewarding. 

5. What kind of skillsets should prospective Nium’ers have to set themselves up for success in the Product Team?  

First and foremost – customer empathy. The first question we must ask ourselves before building a product is, “How will this improve my customers’ lives, and, if so, will this enable them to function easier/smarter/faster?” Once we understand the “why,” a good product sense is required. We need to think about the scope of the problem and weigh up the return on investment, not necessarily in terms of money but time. Will this product be beneficial on a broad level, or will it only serve one customer? I would also say that strong communication skills are an absolute must. We need to be able to share our vision, research, product features, and more on a wide level. It’s necessary to articulate your vision to get the buy-in you need for development. 

6. Let’s imagine you’re promoted tomorrow (fingers crossed). What piece of advice would you offer to the team member taking over your role? 

My advice is to embrace curiosity and tackle each day with as much enthusiasm as you can muster. It’s crucial to take a step back and ensure that you genuinely believe in the work you’re doing. Don’t simply follow instructions; instead, ask questions to gain a deeper understanding. When you infuse your work with excitement and energy, the quality and impact will soar. As Product Managers, we are the ambassadors of the product we build. We’re responsible for sharing our enthusiasm with the entire team because if we don’t, how can we expect others to rally behind our vision? 

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