Learn the Skills and Get the Job as a PM
30 August, 2021
There has been no cookie-cutter approach to become a product manager. Product managers come from several different backgrounds and master a handful of skills 一 both hard and soft 一 to excel in their career. My journey began in a similar way. I am a BTech Mechanical Engineering graduate who joined the industry as a software developer. Working in the banking domain as a software developer for about 2 years, I realized that it was not my cup of tea.
Solving the code or fixing the bugs was not in my propensity, as I was more drawn to the practical side of the product. In other words, I was more interested in the “why” part of the product than in “how” it is done. That is when it clicked to me that I should instead make a move in my career to pursue what I am more passionate about. Besides, I never had the opportunity to prove my skills in the functional area, so I started taking steps.
To begin with, I pursued higher studies. I proceeded to get my MBA and, after that, my post-doctorate in supply chain management. Even though I was not from a supply chain background, I had to get bookish knowledge before making a comeback to the IT industry. I got my hands dirty by joining the retail industry, where I took care of store operations. That was all a part of supply chain management.
I worked on that for about a year 一 selling merchandise, and inventory planning and forecasting. I was putting my knowledge into practice, which made me confident to implement the concepts in real-time. Furthermore, I joined a company as a consultant. This was probably my first step towards product management because it was my first time understanding and solving user problems.
In my opinion, if you want to build a career in product management, you have to start understanding the user pain points and the customer side of functionalities. My role as a consultant for a couple of years opened the doors for me to understand the nitty-gritty of an entire product. Moreover, my bookish knowledge complemented well with perceiving the customer side of things.
As soon as I thought I would start my product journey, my next stepping stone was business analysis. This is where you get a one-liner, blow it up into more significant concepts, and define it into something; that is the analysis part that I embarked on. Once I got the hang of it, my team was also confident in giving the sole responsibility of a product.
With that said, it was a natural progression for me, from being a business analyst to a product manager. The story does not end here as I continued business analysis for 3 years before designing products from scratch. Initially, I was building the features of an existing product, and from that practical experience, I moved into the bigger picture.
- If you are interested in product management, it is vital for you to focus more on the “why” part of the product instead of “how.” If you know the concept, switching from one role to another or one company to the other is not a big deal.
- Before you get started, make sure that your base is strong enough to execute things. For example, in my case, my education and hands-on experience right after that made me confident and competent towards pursuing product management. In other words, you have to be able to love that and be passionate about it.
- The journey of a product is more like a start-up, especially when you are developing something from scratch. In that regard, be sincere but not serious about what you have to do and the deliverables. Don’t get burnt out throughout the process.
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