Richard Forsythe, Product Manager in Lake Forest, CA, United States
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Richard Forsythe

Verified Expert  in Product Management

Product Manager

Lake Forest, CA, United States
Toptal Member Since
April 22, 2019

Richard’s success in remotely managing large development projects stems from in-depth experience in a multitude of roles covering development, product ownership, and QA engineering. This client-centered experience, combined with a successful track record in managing global teams of remote talent, helps maximize project outcomes.

Project Highlights

Portfolio Management Strategy
Led the implementation of a portfolio strategy framework for a product-focused FTSE-100 software company.
Employee Enrollment Platform
Took an insurance broker client from whiteboard concept to fully functional application, with a team of 12 people.
Vertical Marketing Initiative
Created industry-specific packages from a horizontal ERP application suite, driving an average 38% YoY revenue growth.


Work Experience


2020 - 2020
App Startup
  • Took over failing project from previous developer.
  • Worked with the founder to streamline existing functionality and improve UX.
  • Onboarded new Unity developer with experience in VR/AR platforms.
  • Helped the founder focus app functionality on key areas for MVP.


2019 - 2020
SAAS Startup
  • Worked with the founder to translate basic vision into an actionable backlog, ready for development.
  • Managed development team from conception to v1 release.
  • Coordinated smooth transition of the project from original developers to in-house developers.
  • Worked with the founder to prioritize features and other enhancements for the release of v2.
  • Worked with the developer on publication of Chrome Extension for use with SAAS platform.

Product Owner

2018 - 2020
Hyatt Hotels
  • Worked with operations at two client organizations, Hyatt Hotels, and their subsidiary Exhale Spa, to develop detailed requirements for the integration.
  • Assembled team of Toptal developers and QA to build the integration and associated website on a tight schedule for launch.
  • Worked with the client and a Toptal designer to build out the desired UI for consumer use when connecting accounts and redeem points for spa services.
  • Worked closely with a third outside entity, MindBody Online, on their API and associated issues.
  • Handled maintenance and ongoing minor enhancements as needed.

Product Manager

2019 - 2019
Boutique Fitness Chain
  • Worked with the client on specific requirements and data elements to extract from ERP. The client wanted to build data warehouse from a cloud-based ERP system, and push user data into HubSpot.
  • Determined best approach for HubSpot integration.
  • Worked with client on detailed business rules, ensuring data integrity throughout data flow.
  • Selected and managed developer to build integration.
  • Implemented enhancements to BI logic, in support of Tableau implementation.

CTO / Product Owner

2017 - 2019
Insurance Broker
  • Guided the Toptal client from initial concept to a web-based application handling their mission-critical functions from customer enrollment through to invoicing.
  • Opened the project with in-depth discussions on requirements, created a detailed backlog, and presented project proposal for time, budget, and scope.
  • Coordinated closely with each team member to build the envisioned product according to specifications and within tight delivery deadlines.
  • Worked with the client to ensure that the highly complex set of business requirements were implemented in an optimal fashion and within expectations.
  • Collaborated with third parties, including ADP Payroll, to implement data integration functions as needed for the system.
  • Selected and on-boarded Toptal team, including designer, developers, and QA.

Product Owner

2018 - 2018
Multi-Dwelling Real Estate Developer
  • Researched market for Smart Home devices, such as Alexa and Google Home, to generate user stories for an integrated residence by a futuristic property developer.
  • Developed detailed specification for the product, incorporating custom voice interface and IoT control.
  • Worked with the designer to create complex, cross-platform UX/UI framework.
  • Conducted a build-vs-buy analysis of third party voice interaction platforms as part of business strategy proposal.

Product Owner

2017 - 2018
Major Insurance Services Company
  • Guided the client from concept to a web-based application that imports data files from a number of client customers, emails a survey to the appropriate people based on complex and customizable criteria, records responses, and manages business workflow based on customizable response criteria.
  • Kicked off the project with an in-depth process of business analysis, story-writing, and backlog building to define scope.
  • Worked closely with client executives to build an agreed upon project plan and budget, based on 250+ stories in backlog.
  • Coordinated with the client as product requirements evolved, ensuring maximum agility during product development while avoiding unnecessary rework.
  • Selected and on-boarded the Toptal team, including designer, developers, and QA.
  • Worked closely with each team member to build the client's product according to specification and changing circumstances.
  • Managed the development of a data warehouse layer that exported into the Qlik BI platform.

Product Owner

2016 - 2017
Global Pharmaceutical Company
  • Managed a team of developers and QA engineers building an internal web-based business application.
  • Led Agile development processes with weekly sprints and daily stand-ups.
  • Handled the transformation of user requests into actionable, implementation-ready JIRA stories within a highly specialized scientific domain.
  • Managed the implementation of formal QA processes.
  • Supported the resolution of issues raised by PostgreSQL database over one terabyte.

Technical Product Manager

2015 - 2016
Insight Notes
  • Joined a small team as the first product manager, formalizing the role and coordinating product releases.
  • Introduced a structured process for version management.
  • Functioned as lead QA Engineer, working closely with the developers on enhancements and bug fixes.
  • Handled HIPAA-compliant server setup and configuration for both live and dev environments.


2013 - 2016
  • Managed the product development from concept to delivery.
  • Worked with sales to determine most attractive prospects for next product version.
  • Led agile implementation team to deliver required feature sets quickly and within budget.

VP, Strategy

2005 - 2013
Sage Group plc
  • Spearheaded the development of a global strategy for Sage Group plc, an FTSE-100 company.
  • Worked with global business units on country-specific and group-specific strategy, refining growth patterns and projections for maximum shareholder benefit.
  • Formalized a portfolio management model for the organization's extensive range of individual businesses, supporting both individual brands and the corporate entity.
  • Reviewed global mergers and acquisitions.
  • Reported directly to the Board of Directors.

Senior Director, Product Management

2000 - 2005
Sage Group plc
  • Negotiated with engineering teams to establish project scope and timelines.
  • Prioritized features and ROI to align sales and marketing objectives with engineering schedules.
  • Facilitated senior executive decision-making regarding product release cycle and resource allocations.
  • Represented sales and marketing in engineering design discussions.
  • Led the transition of products from on premise to SAAS, coordinating with development on technology, sales and marketing on messaging, and operations on pricing and internal systems.

Product Marketing Manager

1994 - 1999
Sage Group plc
  • Worked with sales to develop key messages and sales support documents.
  • Participated in sales calls with customers to handle questions regarding product roadmap and priorities.
  • Led the rollout of marketing programs and lead generation activities.
  • Handled all competitive research, writing analysis of each competitor with strengths vs weakenesses.
  • Liaised with engineering to champion technological impact on product strategy and marketing.

Portfolio Management Strategy

Led the implementation of a portfolio strategy framework for a product-focused FTSE-100 software company.

As VP, Strategy, for a company with over 50 product businesses worldwide, the challenge was to change the product-based annual budgeting cycle into a strategic portfolio-based resource allocation methodology.

Traditionally, product groups were given the same profit margin targets whatever their lifecycle (startup, growth, or mature). Any allocation beyond that was done on a case-by-case basis. As the acquisition of software products continued, this model became untenable as both logistically impractical as well as very sub-optimal as a capital allocation model.

After rolling out the new business reporting and budget allocation process, all businesses were allocated a margin based on their ability to attract new customers. This allowed the fast-growing early-stage business to deploy the capital they needed to grow quickly in a competitive market, offset by the mature products whose primary budget goal was to maintain high margins.

The new approach also helped measure the attractiveness of new acquisitions, and in some cases prompted the disposition of unattractive businesses that had been acquired previously.

Product Owner - Loyalty Reward Integration

Led a team to integrate the World of Hyatt loyalty system with the ERP system of a subsidiary, for earning and redemption.

Hyatt acquired a chain of spas and wanted to allow World of Hyatt loyalty points to be earned by spa customers, as well as redeemed for spa services. The subsidiary used a shrink-wrap ERP system, MindBody Online, that could not be directly modified.

First, it was necessary to work through the very detailed and complex business requirements associated with the processes involved, involving the operations teams of both Hyatt and the subsidiary.

A technical analysis then indicated the tech stack needed to align best with Hyatt's internal systems. Once identified, a team of four developers was hired to build the system against a tight launch deadline.

The product was launched on time, even with some late-cycle scope changed that was requested and accommodated. Further enhancements were made post-launch to expand the scope of the integration, and the system is still used today.

Employee Enrollment Platform

Took an insurance broker client from whiteboard concept to fully functional application, with a team of 12 people.

Started with stakeholder interviews and 3 developers, I led the team as a product owner, functional architect, and project manager. Based on input from non-technical client, delivered and enhanced the platform over the course of 2+ years into a critical business system for the client.

Based on complex configuration formulae for each client and insurance company, the employees are enrolled in the benefits they select, charges calculated and detailed invoices generated.

Integrations between the system and the insurance company systems provide automated updates of employee information to the insurers. Integration with ADP updates the platform from ADP's HR database, and also provides an export of payroll data into ADP.

Vertical Marketing Initiative

Created industry-specific packages from a horizontal ERP application suite, driving an average 38% YoY revenue growth.

To drive growth for a mature product in a slow-growth market, I spearheaded a vertical marketing initiative to target key industry verticals such as distribution and manufacturing with our horizontal ERP application suite.

In each vertical, I led a small team through a process of researching the industry sub-segmentation, finding appropriate niches where the ROI would be attractive, working with engineering to enhance the product as needed, and with sales & marketing to launch the product into those verticals -- both through our existing VAR channels and through VAR recruitment.

In some cases, the build vs buy decision weighed in favor of an acquisition of key functionality developed by a third party. In these cases, I led the acquisition process including building the business case, co-ordinating due-diligence, planning the post-acquisition transition and facilitating the hand-off of code to internal development.

The various industry-specific packages were launched successfully driving an average of 38% YoY revenue growth in the targeted industry in the first year after acquisition.
1995 - 1997

Master of Business Administration (MBA) Degree in Business

The Edinburgh Business School - Distance Learning

1988 - 1991

Bachelor's Degree in Mathematics and Computation

Oxford University - Oxford, England

1988 - 1991

Master's Degree in Mathematics and Computation

Oxford University - Oxford, England

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