Julia Beizer was a reporter at The Washington Post when her boss went on maternity leave and left Beizer as the stand-in newsroom liaison to the company’s new article page design. It was Beizer’s first introduction to the product side of the newsroom’s operation.
Keeping “the seat warm” for her manager gave Beizer an opportunity that, ultimately, led her to a career in product management—and what she calls “the best job in the world” as the first chief product officer at Bloomberg Media.
“If I hadn’t gotten that opportunity, I wouldn’t have found this great career,” Beizer said.
She stayed in her reporting role for a couple more years until she felt an “itching” to do something else. Luckily, a role at WaPo presented itself, and Beizer jumped at the opportunity to become editor of mobile projects and oversee development of the company’s first iPad app.
“As I got more and more passionate about how we can reach people through digital media, it was clear the problem to solve wasn’t through journalism itself,” Beizer said.
But once she found product management, she said she thought, “Wow, I found my tribe.”
Beizer went on to be director of product at WaPo, then HuffPost. She then became vp of product in the media division at Oath before she was appointed to her current role at Bloomberg Media in January.
Beizer has a number of projects going on at any given time, from the licensing and subscription business to apps and OTT offerings. She also oversees new ventures as they come online, including Bloomberg’s TicToc, a news network for Twitter, which garners over 2 million average daily views with more than 352,000 followers.
“That’s life in product management. It’s all about problems to solve,” Beizer said. “One day of the week, I can be doing really intense creative design work; another day, I can be thinking about going to market. … Getting to float around keeps me on my toes and keeps me excited.”
Beizer said she’s also excited about the constant experimentation and exploration in new methods of storytelling at Bloomberg. The next generation of consumers, Beizer said, want news “natively in platforms they hang out in, and we want to be there.”
While overseeing development of an iPad app, people asked for a search function—but fewer than 200 people used the feature in the first month after Beizer’s team built it.
“I was actually misreading the user feedback,” Beizer explained. “When users said, ‘I wish you had a search function,’ what they were actually saying was, ‘I can’t find what I’m looking for.’ That’s a different problem to solve. User feedback is the most important piece of the puzzle when you’re trying to build products and services that people love. But you’ve got to squint your eyes at that feedback, turn up your empathy and make sure you’re creating the solution they actually need.”
How She Got the Gig
There was a bit of a learning curve making the transition from reporting to product management, so she asked a lot of questions. “I did my reporting and did my homework, and now I can swing with the best of them,” she said.
Try everything. “The great thing about the media industry right now is that there are new opportunities popping up every minute,” Beizer urged. “Dive in!”