Harvard in Tech Spotlight: Nan Ransohoff, Head of Climate at Stripe
I spoke with Nan Ransohoff, who leads Climate at Stripe. Prior to Stripe, Nan has build products and businesses at Opower, Nest, UberPOOL, and most recently at Nuro as Head of Product. Nan shared her advice for effective collaboration, product leadership, learning, creativity, and problem solving.
Hone your tactical empathy. When working cross functionally, get in the habit of taking the perspective of each stakeholder. Understand what they care about, what worries them, what they are optimizing for, and what their priorities are. Building tactical empathy is a powerful (and underutilized) tool effective team building as well as product development.
Build the right machine to move teams from point A to point B. When transitioning from an individual contributor in product to product leader, Nan started spending less time managing individual pieces of a product and more time aligning teams around a clear vision and strategy. Great leaders set the right destination (the vision), chart a path to get there (the strategy), and build the vehicle to get there (the team).
Start with a list of questions. When exploring a new area, instead of aimlessly beginning to read, first formulate a list of basic questions you would like to answer. In this way, you can be more targeted in what you read and spend more time internalizing and drawing the signal out from the noise in a way that is optimized for your goals.
Approach learning from different perspectives. Instead of solely reading or only relying on conversations with experts or focusing exclusively on user research, leverage all of these different types of data points, both quantitative and qualitative when learning about a new space. When you view a problem from multiple lenses, you develop a much richer understanding and stronger foundation to be able to formulate more effective solutions.
Dive into the uncomfortable. Creativity stems from incorporating multiple perspectives and drawing non-intuitive connections between different disciplines. In order to be able to have the fuel that drives these engines of creativity, it is crucial to have varied experiences, including and especially those in unfamiliar spaces that stretch your comfort zone.
Spend more time exploring problems that matter. Envision the world you want to live in, identify the challenges standing in the way, and climb the worthwhile hills, creating solutions that bring society closer to its ideal image.
Nan Ransohoff currently leads Climate at Stripe, where her team is working to build a large-scale, voluntary market for carbon removal by pooling demand from Stripe’s 1M+ users, and then using those funds to help promising new carbon removal technologies accelerate down the cost curve. Prior to Stripe, Nan led product and business teams at Opower, Nest, UberPOOL, and Nuro. She received her BA from Harvard University and her MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business.