A sneak peek into the life of Larisa, Head of Product Management at Barrage

Luka Strišković
Luka Strišković
Published: 28.04.2021

Today, we are introducing Larisa Šomođi, our Head of Product Management. This lover of dry humor has Fix-it Mode set as default, which comes in handy. Always ready to bite the bullet or jump into a new task, Larisa is an excellent example of our company culture at Barrage!

What do you find to be the most exciting aspect of Barrage?

I have the opportunity to do what I love. I like to find new ways to get better organized, be more efficient and effective, look for illogical things, processes that we could improve, or anything else that we could do better. I just like to fix things (I can’t help myself!).

Also, I enjoy being a part of the team developing digital products that I think have potential. My team is really awesome as well. Last but not least, taking initiative is genuinely appreciated at Barrage.

Larisa doing what she does best—fixing things

How has Barrage helped you in your career development?

We have a culture in which ideas, determination, and desire to learn and develop are highly valued and encouraged. Absolutely everyone can express their views and the areas they want to improve and skills they want to develop.

So far, I have gained the certificates:

  • Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist (ACAMS)
  • Professional Scrum Master I
  • Professional Scrum Product Owner I

What matters is certainly not the paper itself, at least to me. Constant research and gaining first-hand experience are far more important. The more I know, the more aware I am that I know nothing. :) Live and learn.

What advice do you have for prospective Barrage candidates?

Be honest, eager to gain experience, be willing to learn and improve your skills, ready to explore and get along with new things and situations. Also, be prepared for the fact that there are no procedures and instructions for every single challenge or task. Use common sense.

What is on your wish list for the next five years with Barrage?

I want to release our own digital products to market.

I want to deepen our knowledge of digital product development further.

I want at least twice as many of us.

I want to improve 89,436,571,237 more internal processes and policies (but, again, that's just me).

I want to keep the good working atmosphere we have now.

I want more outdoor team building (COVID-19, please go away).

Do you have any hobbies, go-to weekend activities, or long-term passion projects you’re working on?

I go to functional workouts or tabata three times a week. I’ve played handball for almost ten years. I don’t play anymore, but sometimes I get together with the girls from the former team just for friendly matches. I hope that the situation regarding the pandemic will improve soon so we can continue with that.

I’m simply not a cold-weather person. During the winter, I usually read non-fiction books and hang out with my family and friends. When the weather is nice, I just can’t resist the sun. I like to be in nature, so I usually spend sunny days in the mountains hiking or cycling. Here and there, I go on a road trip or take an active vacation with friends.

Larisa on her bike ride in Istria, Croatia

Favorite book?

I can't choose one.

Good Strategy/Bad Strategy by Richard P. Rumelt. I was always intrigued by various strategies. The explanations and examples of R.P. Rumelta were better and more insightful for me than any other books and articles I've read on the subject.

12 Rules for Life by Jordan B. Peterson. As I was reading it, I was just amazed at the structuredness of J.B. Peterson’s explanations throughout the book.

What is the best vacation you’ve been to?

Chernobyl and Pripyat had been on my bucket list since forever. Finally, I went there during the summer of 2018; I was thrilled to death. I was able to take a walk in the ghost town of Pripyat and see all the iconic sites and buildings like the pool, kindergarten, amusement park, Ferris wheel, cinema…

I had lunch at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant and saw the Duga radar system. We spent the night at the Chernobyl village, and on the second day, we went to visit an unfinished nuclear power plant and the abandoned city. That ex-soviet city didn’t exist on the maps, nor was anyone allowed to know about it at the time. The city functioned independently, with scientists and emergency services and their families living in it, to serve the state.

It was a truly unique experience.

One thing crossed off Larisa's bucket list: Feris wheel in Pripyat, Ukraine

What is the most important thing you have learned in the last five years?

Honesty and hard work pay off. You should not be afraid or discouraged to try something that seems too much or is new to you. When I look back, in some situations my colleagues believed in me more than I did myself. When you go through more than one such situation, it gets easier every time, and you just know it’s a process. Sometimes you need to bite more than you can chew and then just chew it.

What is on your bucket list?

  • Visit more abandoned cities and hidden places.
  • Visit national parks that I have not been to before.
  • Every year, I try to have a different active vacation, including hiking, biking, and exploring a new location.

What's your favorite quote or motto?

"It's better to beg for forgiveness than to ask for permission." Not like a rebel going around and abusing situations, but rather simply knowing which rules to break or when to push the boundaries. Also, it is about not waiting for someone else's approval to do the things you need to do to succeed.

What is your greatest fear?

Snakes, I am terrified of snakes. I can’t think. I can’t breathe. Period.

Falling. Not to stumble and fall right to the floor, I mean that fall that laaaasts.

Being bored. I can't imagine every day being the same for me, having repetitive tasks at work, or experiencing no challenges. In Croatia, we have a saying that “boredom is the worst disease”. I strongly believe that.

What is an ability you wish you had?

To stop time. A day only has 24 hours, and I constantly desire to do more in a day than can fit in it.

Get to know Larisa and her peers at Barrage!

We are thrilled to have Larisa as part of our team at Barrage as she represents the very best of our team and is an excellent reflection of the personalities we attract to the company. If you would like to ask Larisa any questions about the product management team at Barrage or meet any of her peers, please reach out to us, and we will make sure to introduce you.

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