What do ultra-marathon training and product development share in common?

Cole Horton, Cheetah product manager

Cole Horton knows how to tackle big projects. 

It’s what he does as a product manager for Cheetah and it’s what he does as an ultra-marathoner. Life for Cole is all about prioritizing objectives, developing plans, identifying milestones, managing time, and achieving ambitious goals. 

The South Carolina native started his career in commercial printing, then transitioned into technology, then financial technology, and finally trust and wealth management technology. 

Check out this brief interview with Cole. 

What does a product manager do?

Cole: Our job is to make the lives of our clients easier. We lead the development of the product to deliver meaningful enhancements to the system. Our goal is to increase client productivity and profitability. We want them to be able to scale easier and take on more work without having to take on more resources. 

Currently, we’re working on client requests for both operational and investment-focus enhancements to the system while also blending in our own new, game-changing innovations.

What do you like about being a product manager? 

Cole: I love challenges. One of the greatest challenges as a product manager, especially with a product like Cheetah, is that you interface with literally every group internally and externally — sales, relationship management, marketing, quality assurance, development, client support, third-party vendors, and especially clients. 

Interfacing with so many groups is a challenge. But where I find joy is figuring out how to do it in a meaningful way where everyone knows that they are being heard. 

From there you have to prioritize work based on what you are hearing from all interested groups. You have to prioritize, but also be fluid in your thoughts and approaches. Prioritization with flexibility is key. 

Is it that you like teamwork, or that you like the intellectual job of putting that puzzle together based on so many inputs?

Cole: It’s definitely both. I couldn’t imagine separating the two from each other, honestly. 

How would you describe working for Cheetah?

Cole: Cheetah is a very personal company. This culture starts from the top down with Adam (Unger, CEO). Our purpose is to make great things happen for other people. That purpose trickles down to everyone and it just permeates the culture. 

It’s one thing to know what our purpose is, but it’s another thing to feel as though you’re an integral part. And that’s what is really appealing to me. It’s very easy in Cheetah for every person to be involved and find their role in that purpose. Everyone has a feeling that they are an important part of what we are trying to do here. 

What do you do away from work?

Cole: My primary focus is that I am a father of two. I have a 19-year-old daughter and a 14-year old son who are both very active. My daughter is in college and my son is in middle school. 

What I do for fun is almost anything that’s outside. I’m an avid runner. I do ultra marathons — at least a couple every year. I’m currently training to complete my first 50-miler in June. So, that is my jam, ultra marathons. 

That sounds excruciating!

Cole: It’s fun, actually. 

Training is a lot like prioritizing work for Cheetah development. You have to plan how to develop yourself just as you would develop a software product. And it’s not something you can just do overnight. 

You have to prioritize your training and manage your time. You have to figure out how to get all those training miles in. You might run at 5 a.m. with a headlight. You might be running at 11 at night. You might run three miles in the morning, three on your lunch break, and six in the evening. You just have to get the miles in somehow.


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