Alex Gerstel, Product Manager in Port St. Lucie, FL, United States
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Alex Gerstel

Verified Expert  in Product Management

Product Manager

Location
Port St. Lucie, FL, United States
Toptal Member Since
May 4, 2020

Alex has eight years of experience driving the SDLC for property and customer relationship management systems (PMS, CRM), proprietary applications, Salesforce, and technology integrations in fast-paced Agile environments. He identifies the most impactful initiatives to maximize roadmap development and backlog management. Alex is engaging and strategic with a history of process innovation and product launch ability and has worked in travel, customer support, wealth management, and loyalty.

Project Highlights

Property Management System Integration
I led solution creation, prioritization, and documentation for integrating Starwood's PMS into Marriott's diverse ecosystem.
Loyalty Revenue Recovery
I drove a process audit task force that identified approximately $250 million in previously unaccounted-for revenue.
Product Support for a CRM System
I created and implemented new processes with a third-party vendor to achieve the contracted service level agreement for support.

Expertise

Work Experience

Salesforce Product Manager

2021 - PRESENT
Freelance
  • Joined a mid-flight Salesforce Financial Service Cloud initial implementation in ‘red’ status and rallied the team to deliver beyond the originally-committed MVP through value definition and attention to stakeholder facilitation.
  • Restored partner product relationships through communication and transparency.
  • Improved quality, speed-to-market, and team cohesion by reorganizing the 30-person product team into squads and transitioned the delivery model from Waterfall to Scrum/Agile with monthly deployments.
  • Refocused delivery with emphasis on quality and business value by introducing story-writing standards, creating and adhering to a stakeholder-driven roadmap, and implementing business validation practices.
  • Launched the utilization of Jira and Confluence for story-writing, documentation, sprint management, release management, and roadmap management, generating work effort clarity at every level of the organization.

Owner

2017 - PRESENT
Freelance ExcelsiorSpreadsheet
  • Researched the Excel spreadsheet marketplace to identify areas of opportunity and create a business plan.
  • Developed a series of reusable templates for download on Etsy.
  • Created custom spreadsheets for clients at a higher cost.
  • Increased shop visits, orders, and revenue every year since the opening in 2017.

Director of Guest Service Products

2021 - 2021
Marriott
  • Developed the technology roadmap and agile backlog to align with a broader group and portfolio objectives.
  • Collaborated with cross-functional team members to drive value and develop customer-friendly features and enhancements.
  • Provided direction for technology development, including cost estimation, budget management, scope, delivery strategy definition, and established milestones and schedules.
  • Managed approximately 65 annual deployments conducted in a Scrum Agile fashion across five multi-departmental squads for Marriott's Salesforce implementation, consisting of around 88 thousand active users globally.
  • Led an offshore top-tier support team to triage and solution critical issues.
  • Advised key stakeholders in on-property and call center operations, loyalty, digital, marketing, security, and IT senior leadership on upcoming initiatives and approaches.

Senior Manager for Product Activation and Global Operations

2020 - 2021
Marriott
  • Advised cross-functional project teams on decisions that offer operational quality and simplicity for all four property management systems, focusing on the end-user experience.
  • Produced user-facing and above property support documentation to successfully deploy integrated mobile keys across 6,000 sites and four platforms.
  • Created a data-driven beta selection model to identify sites best suited for executing user testing and returning actionable results.
  • Prepared presentations to explain complex concepts in digestible formats for diverse audiences, including senior leadership.

Senior Manager – Americas Property Management Systems

2020 - 2020
Marriott International
  • Served as a product manager for four unique property management systems (PMS) leveraged at approximately 5,500 hotels across North and South America.
  • Educated business and technology leaders regarding all new in-continent PMS initiatives, impacts, and dependencies.
  • Provided operational guidance to shape the vision and direction of the future of the PMS' UX, capabilities, and design.
  • Partnered with multiple stakeholders to deliver chip and PIN payment systems across North America, ensuring that the solution was operationally and technically sound.

Senior Business Systems Analyst

2016 - 2020
Marriott
  • Delivered requirements gathering, design approval, UAT, beta, pilots, and the deployment strategy in Agile and Waterfall SDLC methodologies.
  • Served as a subject-matter expert, partnering with enterprise architecture, business, planning, build, run, learning and development, and deployment teams from across the organization, resulting in highly successful program implementation.
  • Participated as a key leader, heavily involved in all aspects of the SDLC, including business process definition, design, QA, UAT, deployment, and post-production support.
  • Concurrently delivered on critical PMS integration initiatives, including loyalty, reservations, payment, Salesforce CRM, and vacation ownership systems.
  • Led cross-enterprise, high-profile knowledge-gathering, and issue resolution efforts in the integration command center, during impact summits, and with UX teams. I was the IT plan lead.

CRM Product Manager

2014 - 2016
Starwood Hotels and Resorts
  • Led all key CRM projects, wrote business and technical requirements, approved design and QA plans, conducted UAT, and directed deployment.
  • Served as the final signatory for development, QA, and deployment.
  • Designed and facilitated all CRM training, including global webinars with approximately 450 unique dial-ins per month and in-person North America hubs with approximately 100 attendees per session. These sessions statistically improved usage.
  • Implemented new processes and practices with a third-party vendor to successfully achieve agreed-upon SLAs.
  • Ran pilots with key users globally and reported findings to enterprise-level leadership.

Property Management System Integration

I led solution creation, prioritization, and documentation for integrating Starwood's PMS into Marriott's diverse ecosystem.

When Starwood Hotels & Resorts was purchased by Marriott International for $13.3 billion, Marriott successfully completed the merger in two years, the fastest timeline ever attempted in the travel and hospitality industry. The only technology that was not retired in this merger was LightSpeed, Starwood's proprietary PMS.

I surveyed business and technology representatives from across Marriott to identify subject-matter experts and opinion leaders. Subsequently, I brought in critical resources from around the organization to understand the capabilities, infrastructure, and inner workings of the company. I focused on building trust to collectively succeed in leading this expanded cohort of disparate teams.

Through influence and expertise, I simultaneously created, designed, prioritized, and documented the solutions for integrating LightSpeed's technology with Marriott's loyalty software suite to serve more than 100 million members, the reservation and payment systems, the CRM system (Salesforce), and Marriott's vacation ownership group's systems.

Technology used: Salesforce, proprietary PMS, reservations and payment systems, AHS and MBS technologies, Excel, PowerPoint, Visio, Jira, Confluence, Skype, SharePoint.

Loyalty Revenue Recovery

I drove a process audit task force that identified approximately $250 million in previously unaccounted-for revenue.

After conducting system integrations, it was quickly determined that legacy application processes were not communicating effectively with loyalty program applications. A task force was created to conduct research in hopes of identifying a technical bug.

I established research procedures, documentation processes, and cadences with stakeholders. Instead of immediately trying to identify a problem, I directed the team to focus on defining the holistic process. As a result, the team produced technical process definitions and improved reporting accuracy. We also created a log of future downstream framework needs that was used as the foundation for a new hospitality loyalty program roadmap.

The revenue had previously not been tracked because of multiple process gaps and design flaws. As we changed the technology, $250 million in previously hidden revenue was identified and tracked without a single defect.

Technology used: JIRA, Confluence, Excel, PowerPoint, SecureCRT

Product Support for a CRM System

I created and implemented new processes with a third-party vendor to achieve the contracted service level agreement for support.

The global user population was beginning to develop a negative opinion of the support that was provided for the CRM system. Support tickets were taking too long to close, were being passed from associate to associate, and many times were not being resolved at all. Support was run by a third-party provider that was under contract for the entire company.

After analyzing data on ticket volume, closure velocity, subject, and route mapping, as well as interviewing users and support team members, I presented the 10-member support team with my proposals.

We agreed upon altered processes and procedures to improve ticket routing and closure times. For example, I optimized ticket queues to drive efficiency, established a meeting cadence to answer support questions and identify repeat questions from the field to respond to holistically, and created an escalation path.

Results
- Closure rate increased by 7%
- Hours needed to close a ticket decreased by 21%
- Overdue tickets declined by 33%

Most importantly, the support team was able to successfully meet the contracted SLAs and take care of users.

Technology used: ServiceNow, PowerPoint, Excel, Adobe Connect, CRM
2005 - 2009

Associate Degree in Business

Arizona State University - Tempe, AZ

2005 - 2009

Bachelor's Degree in Mass Communications and Public Relations

Arizona State University – Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication - Tempe, AZ

JUNE 2020 - JUNE 2023

PMP

Project Management Institute (PMI)

MAY 2020 - APRIL 2024

Salesforce Certified Administrator

Salesforce

DECEMBER 2017 - PRESENT

Essential Skills for Business Analysis

B2T Training

MARCH 2016 - PRESENT

Virtual Instructor Led Training (vILT) Certified

Adobe

AUGUST 2013 - PRESENT

Six Sigma Green Belt

The International Association for Six Sigma Certification (IASSC)

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