HOW I BECAME A PRODUCT MANAGER
By Philip Ade-Akanbi, Tunde Philips.
There are always talks about how people from different fields of work can become a Product Manager, so we sent out a form to practicing Product Managers on ProductDive in an attempt to validate this statement and, 10 PMs from very diverse backgrounds shared their stories.
This information is gathered to inform aspiring Product Managers about the different routes through which they can break into the industry.
Vir-Bon is a PM at Carbon and he advises aspiring PMs to just get started. He shared the following:
“I joined the company as a customer success rep, took courses and volunteered. When there was an internal opening for a PM (Junior Level), I applied, interviewed and got the role.”
Jessica works with Connected Analytics (ThankUCash) as a Product Manager and she shared her transition experience thus:
“I was a project manager with an agricultural degree who wanted to do more than just plan out tasks for people. I wanted to be able to get my hands dirty with design, tech, and marketing, so I researched roles that allowed you to work across all of these areas and make an impact. I came across a webinar by Product School and after that I started learning more about product management and started implementing some things in product management at my job.”
She advises those looking to transition into Product Management to always look for ways to implement product management methodologies in their current roles.
Adegboyega Osho, who works at International Breweries says he handled some few personal projects which were all manual and decided to go for a more technical way to be more productive and also solve more problems for consumers. He said aspiring PMs should stay focused and be ready to learn.
Olawale from Get Tailored says he was building a fashion brand and he came across Product Management on LinkedIn. He said he started learning during the pandemic and volunteered on 6 products for free or stipends (highest was 30k). He said with his experience building a fashion business and those internships, he landed his first major role as a PM with a fashion tech startup. He implores aspiring PMs to get engaged with products, for free or stipends just to learn and show. He confirms that PMs learn by doing.
Dilly, who works for Softcom shared:
“At the time I didn’t know I was doing PM roles, I offered to help (at a previous job) to do tasks that were out of my core role to build some skills; I’d spend hours on YouTube learning the platform and doing the task as best as I could. Then, ProductDive fleshed the skills and gave me a deeper understanding about being a PM.”
He advises aspiring PMs to take ProductDive seriously. He said he still goes back to his ProductDive notes from Jan 2021.
Habeeb, who is a PM at ChipperCash shared,
“I took on multiple roles at a startup and realized some of the tasks I was doing were product management related. I found out more about what it is to be a product manager and I haven’t looked back since.”
He said that no 2 days are the same and that’s fine, and without mincing words, he says “it is also difficult”.
Seun, a PM at Sendmunk.com said he transitioned from Software Engineering and advises aspiring PMs to be very curious.
Scot from Productboard said he started working with the web in the early 90s and got his first start as a PM when he joined a company that was building software for broadcasters. He would later find out that his empathy and passion for the customer/end-user was the reason he got the role. He said, it was also good timing, a bit of luck, and he was fortunate to:
- Have someone who would give him the opportunity and believed he could do the work.
- Be provided the support and learning to be successful in the role.
Bolajoko from Mbizi Ltd had transferable skills from his previous career, so he took some LinkedIn courses on Scrum, Agile & JIRA. He spoke to a tech start-up founder about coming on board and that was the magic-wand for him. He wants people looking to transition into the field to take the necessary training, leverage on transferable skills and be bold to ask for opportunities.
The last PM who shared his transition story with us said he freelances for 2 companies. He was a customer success agent/product designer and then he stumbled on a LinkedIn article about product management and he just knew it was for him so he gave himself the job title, offered to work in the role at a startup without pay for 6months and that was it! He suggested that an aspiring PM should know something about everything.
The transition journeys shared show and confirm that there are diverse routes to becoming a PM, regardless of your professional background.
Take the step now.
We are yet to see or read about any one who has regretted becoming a PM.
See you at the peak.