How'd you get your start in product and what do you love?

  • 6 October 2021
  • 9 replies
  • 64 views

Userlevel 6
Badge +8

Anyone open to sharing their journey into product, their career progression, and what you love about working in product? ❤️

I often meet with folks that are just getting started or early in their product careers and how I got started is a common question folks want to know about. So what’s your story?

My journey has non-linear in many ways from Professional musician > Book industry > a ton of different Product and UX roles (plus some consulting) > Community and Product Evangelism. I also know I’ve been fortunate to have had the opportunity to work in diverse roles and can now bring my experience to bear here in my current role. What I love about what I’m doing now is getting to know people, understand them and their needs, and that I can treat my community as a product for which I’m constantly doing discovery and trying to find the perfect product-market fit and satisfied and happy users/customers that will tell others.

Share your story and thoughts below 👇


9 replies

Userlevel 2
Badge

Hi,

I also have a rather “uncommon” approach to becoming a Product Manager.
I got a bachelor in Social Work at high school. Interesting studies, but didn’t like the job offerings because most of them are for government institutions… Then I got a job as (business) sales at an Apple Premium Reseller, climbed the ladder, but found myself stuck in a “golden cage”.
After long thinking, I quit my job there and started as a Customer Success Manager at a start-up in my hometown, founded by one of my friends. And now I work there as a PM, where my big interest in human interaction and technology beautifully come together. :sunglasses:  This is where I belong! 
I love everything, from trying to understand the problems our customers want to solve, to prioritising the roadmap, to working closely with the dev team to solve their challenges. I’m often exhausted at the end of the week, but now I know it’s for something I like to do!   

Userlevel 6
Badge +8

Wow that’s fantastic @Niels Vynckier — social work likely brings a great degree of empathy to your work and experiences working with others closely. And CS to Product is a common path for many with a mix of domain knowledge and understanding of customer needs. Love that you’re focussed on the customers and their needs and pains. Thanks for sharing 😀 and rest up 🛌

Userlevel 3
Badge +1

So cool, @Niels Vynckier! I also have a customer success/education background.

My journey was Film industry > Freelance graphic/web design > Customer education > PM.

I love when my background in film proves useful when working as a PM. Directing and editing gives you a foundation in managing people and projects and seeing them through to the end. Being a PM also has a lot to do with storytelling - being able to communicate your users’ story to create alignment on the why behind product vision is a must.

I also found my current job by being a user of the software first! This gave me a unique perspective on the needs and challenges our customers face that I’ve carried with me through education/customer success and now as a PM.

Userlevel 6
Badge +8

Love the creative lens and perspective here @samgioia on the transferable skills between film and product — especially storytelling! And being a user is always a great way to get in the mind of a real customer and to bring empathy into your work. Thanks for joining in and sharing! 👏

Userlevel 4
Badge +5

I came, primarily, from a technical background. I started out as a developer quite some time ago (even have my degree in Computer Science). Shifted from professional development to technical support (I enjoy solving complex problems and calming people down, interestingly enough!). While in Technical Support, I was often providing potential solutions to our engineering team (based on my background). My former director and I spoke about having a product team and we pushed to have one started. I jumped from managing the technical support team to being a product manager. The rest, as they say, is history. :sunglasses:

I’ve also studied Applied Mathematics (and have a Master’s in it) - so it helps me consume and present data in meaningful ways. It’s probably the thing I love most about product management - being data-driven doesn’t mean being data-centric. Numbers and people (personas) will always tell you more about your users together than either one of them independent of another.

Userlevel 6
Badge +8

Nice @david.morgan! I continue to learn more and more about you. Without a doubt your skills have had some interesting carry over from role to role and a math brain 🧠on the data plus love of people ❤️ is a great recipe for product success!

Userlevel 1
Badge

Great question @scott.baldwin!

I am coming from technical background - I’ve started already in computer oriented high-school and continued with degree in Computer Science. But what I’ve always found odd was the fact that the education only focused on the hard skills of software (how to code in 64ish languages, what is object oriented programming, etc...) but never on the design or requirements.

That’s why after a few years of working as a developer I took an opportunity and worked as a business analyst. I wanted to finally experience the other side of the barricade :) I must say that experience really opened my eyes as I saw that there’s much more to creating software than just writing code. I could get my hands on requirements collection, user acceptance testing and collaboration with other stakeholders involved in the product launch.

I really liked this part of the IT world much more, so then I transitioned to a Product Owner role and the rest is just a history :) But I am really glad that I could see the whole software lifecycle during my career path and would totally recomend any aspiring Product manager to do same - to get the taste of other parts of the business - becuase it makes the communication later much easier.

Userlevel 6
Badge +8

Love the 360 perspective on the business and roles @martinmichalik ❤️and completely agree that seeing the whole lifecycle can be super helpful. For me, that diversity of experience has been immensely helpful and also provided me with a vocabulary and empathy that makes it easier to bridge with other teams. My only wish was that I’d spent more time to really get into coding and a more technical track like you did.

Userlevel 2
Badge

That’s great @martinmichalik ! 

I totally lack a technical background, and now I am learning a bit of the other side by taking courses in for example Angular and .NET Core. You are totally right that it is an absolute added value as a Product Owner to “know” how things work in other parts of the business, and for me the actual development was my blind spot. Great to see other people with the same aspirations :smile:  And thanks for your contribution! 

Reply