Glòria Langreo has always had a knack for wanting to improve digital products. Even as a teenager, she came up with digital solutions purely by embracing uncertainty and leaning into her curiosity. Over the past three years, we’ve been lucky to have her as an enthusiastic (and proudly goofy) product manager on the Design Systems team here at Sketch.
We’re excited to be shining today’s spotlight on her story!
Could you describe your role and what you do at Sketch?
I’m a product manager at Sketch, though my role has changed a lot over the past three years. I started out working on smaller features like Color Variables and doing rounds through many different product areas. But as the company grew, more opportunities emerged.
I got to lead my first big project in 2020: real-time collaboration. It was very technical at first — but it soon became clear that it’d have a huge impact on the product. Not only would it change the way Sketch worked fundamentally but also every workflow as we knew it.
And what are you working on now?
I’m currently focused on Design Systems — the team is so much fun. Despite our team’s name, we aren’t the ones responsible for building our own Design System (Prism). Rather, we build features that enable others to build, maintain and distribute their own. And of course, we’re our first users — we dogfood everything before it reaches other people’s hands.
We start by identifying the needs we have ourselves, and trying to find solutions while listening very actively to the design community. I’m responsible for finding these areas and prioritizing them, then deciding how we ship things, what a good first version is, and how to iterate on them. I also work with all our customer-facing teams, our Marketing team, our design advocates, and of course, other product areas.
Internally, I’m also known as the queen of demos! I love sharing my team’s work by creating entertaining videos. And it might not be appropriate to say, but I think I could make a living out of it! One of the cool things about working at Sketch is that goofiness is encouraged, and I’m all in — every chance I get!
Tell us more about your background. What inspired you to pursue a career in product management?
I’ve worked on digital products for about 22 years. In my first temporary job as a teenager, I was hired to manually convert all the prices on a webpage — built in plain HTML tables — from Pesetas (the old Spanish currency) to Euros. There were more than three million products in there! Can you imagine?
I had the page open in Adobe Dreamweaver and had a calculator next to me. Three calculations in, I figured there must be a quicker way to do this. So I built a script to do the work for me and stored all values in a database instead. I finished weeks earlier than expected, and then thought “surely, this could look nicer.” So I learned CSS and HTML to make it look better. They ended up hiring me, and that was my first design gig — before the iPhones, mobile apps, and all that existed.
In my first temporary job as a teenager, I was hired to manually convert all the prices on a webpage — built in plain HTML tables — from Pesetas (the old Spanish currency) to Euros … Three calculations in, I figured there must be a quicker way to do this. So I built a script to do the work for me and stored all values in a database instead.
After that, I worked in many different industries as both a designer and a design manager, from agency work to media corporations and social networks — all while seeing the design scene evolve. This included the rise of Sketch — the app that changed how everyone in the industry worked. My last role before joining Sketch was leading the UX team at a professional social network. I was also involved in the strategy and definition of our products, so moving to the managerial side was only natural.
How did you find your way to Sketch?
One of the main things that drove me professionally over the past years is having very clear values and not caring much about job titles. I always wanted to be working on a product that helped society and its communities — especially those I was part of and, most importantly, that had strong ethical values. When I saw that Sketch was looking for product people, I didn’t doubt my interest for a second. It resonated with all I wanted and I knew I could build a role that could keep me happy as the company grew.
What does a typical day in your job look like?
I pivot a lot between tasks, and my lens zooms in and out a lot. Some days are more about looking ahead at where we want to be in a few months, while other days are focused purely on the present. For example, making sure that everything’s ready for an upcoming release or monitoring a very specific bug. Other days are about looking back on something that’s already been released and checking on how things are going for people. So, there’s no typical day for me. Every day requires a different structure and a different approach — and I love it!
With our flexible working hours, everyone at Sketch has a slightly different daily routine. How do you like to split up your workday?
This is a very interesting topic. We’re not only in different time zones but also have completely different routines depending on the country we’re based in. Did you know people in Norway have lunch at 11am? I couldn’t believe it when I first learned about it — because that would be breakfast in Spain! When I’m having a late lunch, there are people in my team — in my timezone — that are about to have dinner. I really love and celebrate all the differences we have between us, not just with time zones but with culture too.
As for splitting my day, I typically start by reading all the threads and messages I missed from the day before, as some of my colleagues and I have few overlapping hours. This is very nice as Sketch has always been a fully remote company, and we’re used to working asynchronously. That means it’s completely fine to get back to someone a little later.
Once I’m all caught up on messages, I switch to synchronous mode with the people I can. Then I typically end the day asynchronously again.
Because we have very few calls at Sketch, it’s very easy to organize your day in a way that benefits your personal life. In my case, that means taking care of my kids and being able to pick them up from school, and not missing out on their daily anecdotes and giggles.
You’ve held many roles as a designer. How do you think your design experience informs your work as a product manager today?
I think going from designer to product manager is a very common path, especially coming from UX fields. But being a designer-turned-product manager for a design tool you use on a daily basis is magic. I get to be my own user, and that makes things really exciting.
For me, it was a very easy transition. I had already started designing less in my previous design manager roles, and helping designers achieve amazing things is very rewarding for me. I still do design work in my own time. But when I remember how I used to feel as a designer whenever PMs started editing my files, it makes me chuckle. Now that I’m on the other side, I try to be very respectful about other people’s designs.
Thankfully Sketch has a very open company culture, and many people in similar positions have a design background too. So one of the things I enjoy the most are the very complex design discussions that leave your brain melting into another dimension. Hello, Symbol overrides!
Are there any common misconceptions about what a product manager does?
I really don’t know. There are so many entangled roles that change from company to company, or from team to team. There are titles like product manager, product owner, and project manager. In theory, each of them is supposed to have a completely different skill set. But the truth is that it depends on the company, your setup, abilities, motivations and strengths.
What we now call a product manager is a very new role, and a PM will often find themselves doing a bit of everything in the books. It’s very hard to draw the line. That’s why — to add to the confusion — I call myself a product maker on LinkedIn! So if there are any misconceptions out there, I believe it’s our fault — we like to make job titles complicated!
What are some of the projects you’re proudest of at Sketch?
There are many, but I guess I have to say real-time collaboration. Maybe because it was my first baby at Sketch, maybe because it’s changed the game — but it was a project that really enriched my point of view. On the surface, from a product perspective, it seems like a very straightforward project. We all know multiple collaboration tools, how they work, and what the customer expects. But the timing for me was key.
Shortly after we started the project, COVID-19 broke out and everyone started working remotely. Many companies weren’t ready for that change. They simply didn’t know how to work with remote tools, had no remote culture whatsoever, and had no time to learn. We didn’t have to wait very long to see some companies abusing remote tools to monitor and surveil employees — mostly out of fear and inexperience.
So how were we going to build a collaboration tool that wasn’t going to enable that kind of behavior? A tool that depended on trust between people, just like we practice at Sketch? We didn’t want something that would make designers feel anxious about being watched. We wanted a tool that helped them feel safe, that couldn’t be weaponized, and that aligned with our values of not tracking any activity beyond what’s absolutely necessary for work. That was very interesting, and I couldn’t be prouder of the end result and the entire approach behind it.
We didn’t want something that would make designers feel anxious about being watched. We wanted a tool that helped them feel safe, that couldn’t be weaponized, and that aligned with our values of not tracking any activity beyond what’s absolutely necessary for work.
What are some of the biggest challenges in your job? And do you have any tips to tackle them?
When you come from the design field like me, you likely have the strong tendency to think of the perfect solution — one that covers all bases, and of course, looks awesome. It’s very hard to give up bits of your work and kill your darlings.
But as a product manager, you’re often trying to find a simpler solution to fulfill the same purpose. How can we split things up into smaller chunks so that we can start small, build iteratively, learn, and then make it bigger? This involves having to say no many times to people you care about and making sure features don’t grow arms and legs. It’s a very complicated thing to do, so you need to find solutions and compromises that everyone feels comfortable with.
When you come from the design field like me, you likely have the strong tendency to think of the perfect solution — one that covers all bases, and of course, looks awesome. It’s very hard to give up bits of your work and kill your darlings. But as a product manager, you’re often trying to find a simpler solution to fulfill the same purpose.
What’s one Sketch feature or tool you think more designers should know about?
At the risk of sounding repetitive, real-time collaboration! I can’t believe there are still people who don’t know about it. Go check it out.
As for recent features, I have to highlight one of our latest additions — and the one with the smallest UI we’ve ever worked on. Not lying, it’s just a checkbox! If you head to the menu in our Mac app, choose Sketch > Preferences and go to Libraries. You’ll then find the option Automatically download and update your libraries. By selecting this, you’ll always stay up to date with the latest components. Complete life-changer.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever gotten in your career?
It wasn’t directed to me specifically, but it’s something Margaret Lee said at a conference I was at: “turn confusion into curiosity, and judgment into learning.”
And finally, what’s one piece of advice you’d give to someone interested in becoming a product manager?
Just like in product development: if you come from another field like design or development, give it a try. Start taking small projects in your current role, see how it feels, iterate, learn, and observe. And if you think product management is something for you: make it bigger.