Vanessa Soares, Product Manager in London, United Kingdom
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Vanessa Soares

Verified Expert  in Product Management

Product Manager

London, United Kingdom
Toptal Member Since
January 5, 2022

Vanessa has worked as a product owner in digital for 15+ years and in over-the-top/video-on-demand for seven years. She has extensive experience in strategy alignment, scope definition, and prioritization, as well as getting into the detail that developers need for user stories. Vanessa’s breadth of experience also includes UX; SQL; leading discovery workshops; and analyzing, improving, and automating business processes. She has additional background as a project manager, developer, and tester.

Project Highlights

World Cup Website for Over 50 Markets
Hands-on end-to-end to deliver the sites that generated 1.4 billion page views, US$ 13.5 million revenue, and 87% growth for MSN Sports International in one year.
Filling the Gap Between Design, Product, and Development Teams
Within two weeks after joining the contract, I aligned design, product, and development teams on the scope of a re-platforming video-on-demand project, allowing the development team to officially kick off and draw up a proposed project plan.
Detailed Product Requirements Document (for a Client Who Preferred Waterfall)
At the client’s request, I produced a 100+ pages document detailing the scope of a large video-on-demand website.


Work Experience

Senior Product Manager | Owner | Business Analyst

2017 - PRESENT
Freelance Clients
  • Performed several roles in broadcasters and streaming services, such as Business Analyst, Product Owner, or Product Manager. Clients included Sky, Deutsche Telekom, and MBC, the Middle East Broadcasting Center.
  • Managed and prioritized the backlog; wrote user stories and BDD acceptance criteria for multiple clients on VOD/OTT multi-platform projects.
  • Conducted workshops for clients and internal and third-party technical teams.
  • Liaised with third-party partners and suppliers to align the scope.
  • Bridged the gap between developers and creative and non-technical teams.
  • Managed senior stakeholders in large multinational companies.

Senior Product Manager

2020 - 2022
  • Led the roadmap and drove the strategy of many areas of the ITV Hub.
  • Created prototypes to run qualitative and quantitative user tests; analyzed the results to make data-driven decisions.
  • Created and managed backlog, user stories, and BDD acceptance criteria.
  • Defined, implemented, and rolled out the governance for data compliance projects.

Lead Product Owner/Business Analyst

2015 - 2017
  • Drove workshops and broke down requirements into flows, user stories, and acceptance criteria.
  • Worked with system architects and partners to align requirements and technical constraints.
  • Acted occasionally as the scrum master for the team.
  • Participated in technical design recommendations and definition of API endpoints.

Senior Product Manager/Program Manager

2007 - 2014
  • Served as the product owner and program manager of large-scale projects, such as the World Cup and Olympics sites, across 50+ markets in 27 languages, with over 150 internal stakeholders.
  • Adapted existing tools to automate website build, decreasing cost by 80% and delivering it 5x faster.
  • Transformed editorial global distribution process, improving reliability by over 50% and cutting issue resolution time from hours to minutes.
  • Worked closely with the business sponsor to define core project requirements and KPIs.
  • Monitored KPIs using analytics tools and drove improvements.
  • Acted as the main technical liaison for onshore and offshore development teams and third parties.
  • Defined and rolled out the PM framework and templates, documentation, and training.
  • Developed and rolled out Sharepoint workflows to streamline processes across several teams.

Senior Developer/Analyst

2007 - 2007
Merrill Lynch
  • Developed features in C# and Microsoft SQL Server.
  • Managed a Microsoft SQL database.
  • Produced functional design specifications.

Software Design Engineer

2006 - 2007
  • Developed features in Microsoft SQL Server, ASP, and JavaScript.
  • Globalized database and functions and stored procedures for features developed initially for the US market.
  • Acted as scrum master and collaborated with product managers to write functional specifications.

Localisation Test Engineer

2005 - 2006
  • Automated daily QA tasks to create databases on Microsoft SQL and Oracle, which could be used by all testers and save them time.
  • Created and performed functional and quality tests on client-server and multiplatform products.
  • Took the initiative to create the intranet for the Dublin office.

Technical Project Manager/Team Lead

1997 - 2004
Salt Advertising & Marketing
  • Provided hands-on leadership throughout the whole digital project lifecycle, from requirements gathering to development, test and release.
  • Managed a team of up to 12 people and focused on project management and requirements gathering as the team grew.
  • Involved in contracts, pre-sales, and maintenance.

World Cup Website for Over 50 Markets

Hands-on end-to-end to deliver the sites that generated 1.4 billion page views, US$ 13.5 million revenue, and 87% growth for MSN Sports International in one year.

• Worked with the business sponsor to define KPIs and differentiator features that drove 47% of the total revenue.
• Wrote requirements documentation and liaised with third-party companies. Defined website information architecture and pages.
• Worked with 50+ markets to get translations, built their sites, and helped them with customization.
• Helped markets achieve their KPIs by analyzing and comparing their performance to identify what was working in some countries and could be used in other countries.

Filling the Gap Between Design, Product, and Development Teams

Within two weeks after joining the contract, I aligned design, product, and development teams on the scope of a re-platforming video-on-demand project, allowing the development team to officially kick off and draw up a proposed project plan.

The project started around six months before I joined, but it hadn't moved much due to unalignment on scope. I met and interviewed several stakeholders, designers, development, and test lead.

I put together a document outlining the high-level front-end and back-end scope across all platforms within two weeks. I presented it to the department, enabling everyone to understand what were the "must," "should," and "could" have requirements, as well as what was out of scope.

Detailed Product Requirements Document (for a Client Who Preferred Waterfall)

At the client’s request, I produced a 100+ pages document detailing the scope of a large video-on-demand website.

Before signing the contract to develop a video-on-demand website, the client wanted to have the full scope detailed in a document. I joined the project as the product owner and business analyst responsible for this document.

I drove the discovery workshops with technical teams, designers, and product managers on the client-side, as well as developers on her team. After several workshops and meetings, the 100+ pages document was finalized with all requirements, user stories, acceptance criteria, priority, and designs for all website breakpoints.

Website Build Automation

Decreased build cost by 80% and delivered it to market 5x faster.

My team had to build and deliver websites for 50+ countries, using the company's internal content management system (CMS). The whole process was manual—from sending a spreadsheet for countries to translate to outsourcing the site build where the pages were built one by one and translations copied from the sheet (one of the projects was over 1,500 pages). Needless to say, the whole process had a lot of back-and-forths, took a long time, and it was prone to human error.

I replaced the sheet with a Sharepoint form, eliminating the need to manually check if each country filled in the sheet correctly. The site build, which had been done by an outsourcing company, was replaced by an internal tool I adapted, which created all the pages using the translations provided by each country on Sharepoint.

Editorial Global Distribution Process

Improved reliability by over 50% and cut issue resolution time from hours to minutes.

I was part of a team that created editorial content and distributed it to over 50 countries. When I joined the team, the automated process to distribute the content was slow, unreliable, and very time-consuming to troubleshoot. This process failed once or three times a week, and it used to take 1-2 hours to investigate and fix the problem. Sometimes the issue couldn’t be fixed by us and had to be escalated to a team in a different time zone, which meant longer waiting time for markets to get the content they needed.

I took the initiative to look at alternative solutions and run a proof of concept.
The new solution improved the time to get the content to markets, was easier to troubleshoot, and was more reliable due to using more stable services.

More Consistent and Transparent Feature Prioritization Process

New streamlined processes aided collaboration and provided more transparency for all stakeholders.

I was part of a team where the feature prioritization depended on several stakeholders across different teams. The documentation used in the process was scattered and sometimes inconsistent—it ranged from feature request, voting, and ROI calculations to estimated development costs.

I took the initiative to replace these documents with Sharepoint forms, workflows, and a site, automating the process where possible. The workflow included the process from feature request to release and KPI tracking.

Side Project - Data Migration

To help a client with limited budget, I helped them merge and prepare their sales data to be ingested in Salesforce.

The client wanted to migrate their sales data from three systems into Salesforce but had a very limited budget. Since I have a lot of experience with databases, I offered help to merge and deduplicate the data and export it so that the company setting up Salesforce could import it.

To merge and deduplicate the data, I set up Microsoft SQL Server, created the database, and used data extraction and transformation tools. And to export the data, I used database views and SQL Server tools.

Automated Content Distribution Checks

Manual test of content across 11 platforms was replaced by an automated solution to save time and also enable it to be done several times a day.

After making several shows and series available on a video-on-demand service, the support team identified some shows or episodes that were missing on some platforms. Various teams were mobilized to manually check whatever they could on the devices they had at home (the lockdown made it more difficult to cover all platforms).

I automated these checks on a Google Sheet by adapting a Google Apps script to work with the service APIs, cross-checking that all 11 platforms had all the shows and episodes specified on the content planning sheet. This saved everyone’s time and enabled the content planning team to consistently check if the content was distributed to all platforms.
2010 - 2012

Master's Degree in Management of Information Systems

Trinity College Dublin - Dublin, Ireland

1993 - 1997

Bachelor's Degree in Information Technology

Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio Grande do Sul - Brazil


Professional Scrum Master Level I (PSM I)


BCS Certificate in Requirements Engineering

BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT


PRINCE2 Practitioner Certification



Jira, Confluence, ETL, G Suite, Axure RP Pro, Sketch, Google Analytics


Requirements Analysis, Agile, Scrum, Kanban, Agile Product Management, Agile Project Management, Database Design, B2C, Behavior-driven Development (BDD), User Testing, Rapid Prototyping




Google Sheets, SQL, Databases, Business Analysis, Business Process Analysis, Content Management Systems (CMS), Data Transformation, Over-the-top Content (OTT), Video on Demand (VOD), Mobile Apps, Smart TV, Web & Mobile Applications, Google Cast, Scope Management, Backlog Management, Feature Backlog Prioritization, Backlog Grooming, Agile Sprints, Sprint Planning, Workshops, Discovery Workshops, Feature Roadmaps, Feature Analysis, Feature Prioritization, User Stories, Requirements & Specifications, User Acceptance Testing (UAT), Stakeholder Management, Stakeholder Interviews, Scrumban, Scrum Product Owner, Product Owner, Scrum Product Owner Contractor, Product Ownership, Process Improvement, Business Process Improvement (BPI), UX Flows, REST APIs, Websites, Digital Product Management, Product Roadmaps, Fire TV, Business Requirements, Waterfall Methodology, Scope of Work, Scope, Apps, Product Management, Chromecast, Process Analysis, Project Management, Web Project Management, Scrum Master, Database Modeling, Localization, Client Management, Third-party Management, Strategy, Waterfall Delivery, Video Streaming, Software, Applications, Roadmaps, Technical Product Management, Business to Consumer (B2C), Relational Data Mapping, Consulting, Minimum Viable Product (MVP), Specs, Functional Specifications, Software Requirements Specifications (SRS), User Flows, New Product Development, User Experience (UX), Vendor Management, Digital Project Management, Excel 365, User Journeys, APIs, Certified ScrumMaster (CSM), Data Migration, Data Analysis, Microsoft 365, Process Automation, Business Processes, Business Process Automation, Prototyping, Google Apps Script, Microsoft SQL Server, QA Testing, Manual QA, Management, User Research, Quantitative User Research, Process Documentation, Process Design, Operations Improvement, Data Visualization, Automation, Feature Planning, Google SEO, Web Development, Web App Development, C#, Web Applications, Python

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