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My Unconventional Journey into Product Management

Christian Byza

Senior Product Manager at LinkedIn

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Problem

I was working for a large software organization in technical account management, which means my responsibilities involved working with customers one-on-one, post-sales, to solve any issues with our software. My role was interesting because I was able to get very close with the customers while also handling issues directly from the product teams. I essentially served as a user researcher in this way.

Actions taken

By nature, I am a person who seeks to optimize. I have a reputation for having a "hack for everything" in my personal life, and this quirk has aided me in my career as well. As the unofficial user researcher, I took time to develop and send the product team constructive feedback when I had ideas to make things better. Rather than reporting issues only, I shared my perspective on fixing things as well. This evolved into a close working relationship with the product team. I was invited to visit them overseas, and on this trip, I tried to spend as much as time possible with them to communicate the problems thoroughly and constructively. As time went on, and a position opened in the product team, I unknowingly became a candidate. In school in Germany, I didn't even realize product management existed. It wasn't something I'd ever considered but I'd naturally found my way into the field. I think it was an interesting way into product because most people believe there is a very specific career path required for this position. Since I was already performing a lot of the job functions, and working well with the team, it was really just my title that needed to change.

Lessons learned

If I had to do it again, I would have started working with a tech company while in college. But I have no regrets now because despite not following the typical path, I found my way into this role. I just had to really engage with the product team and share my ideas and skills to qualify - over time - to make the transition.


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Christian Byza

Senior Product Manager at LinkedIn


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