Background - Link to research

A commonality I found in Product Managers was the strong presence of an active imagination, the understanding of the foundational building blocks needed to construct it and the perseverance to bring it to life. PMs are observant of their environment and seek the necessary tools to navigate through any problem that stimulates them. By being able to break down a problem, visualize it and leverage their strengths, PMs unify different groups of people to solve a particular problem. 

Part2 - The Different Paths to Product

Build your own Start-Up, Venture or Business.

Pursuing this route can help you acquire the essential skills needed to succeed as a PM in any environment. It doesn't matter what idea or methodology you choose to bring it to life, as much as it justifies your motivation for the idea and how the process worked for you. In reality, you learn by simply creating ideas and validating them.

Robleh's story

Robleh started on the entrepreneurship path and formed his studio for making apps, which later got acquired by Shopify and led him to his current senior product lead role.

Belinda’s story

Belinda formed a newsletter that curated news around the Toronto tech community. Printed on a single sheet of paper, and while networking, she found her desired job as a Product Manager.

David’s story

David was building an Airbnb for food start-up, and when that didn't work out, he met up with an old client who offered him a job as a product manager at their start-up.

Join a Start-Up: The Smaller, The Better

An enormous opportunity to learn all aspects of a business is out there for anyone willing to join an early-stage company. In such environments, you get to be a generalist with exposure to different issues that help take on the responsibilities of the various tech disciplines.

Stacey’s story

Stacey joined a start-up and took on every possible role that existed at a medium-sized tech company that kicked off her search to become a Product Manager.

Deepika’s story

Deepika joined a start-up, and after realizing she enjoyed acting as a PM, she reached out to a mentor who guided her to apply to agencies where she got her first product manager role at tribal scale.

Kyle’s Story

Kyle started ProductTank Toronto to meet more people in product, which helped him network to secure his first product management job.

Leverage your Domain Knowledge

The many years spent working at a bank can possibly lead to a job in a financial technology company as you bring with you a crucial understanding of the business and its customers. For example, by assisting customers who invest through difficult-to-use traditional trading platforms, you recognize the pain points and the opportunity available for companies like Robinhood and Wealthsimple.

Jyoti’s Story

Jyoti leveraged her marketing and advertising background to get a product marketing manager role at an ad-tech company, which she later used to transition into a product manager.

Elyse’s Story

Elyse leveraged her knowledge of fashion to work on feature enhancements with vendors where she learnt about agile development and went ahead to join an agency as a product manager.

Hirsch’s Story

Hirsch used his domain knowledge of accounting to transition to CaseWare, a company that makes auditing software as a product owner.

Join a Company with the Intention to Transition.

This chapter discusses individuals who already learned about product management but needed to find where they could get the formal title and training. Their stories highlight how they communicated to employers about their offering, what agreement both parties made, and how they were able to convince them when the time for the transition came around.

Lindsay’s Story

Lindsay took a job as a QA lead at a startup on the condition that she would get to transition into product management, which helped her transition internally to become a product manager.

Darlene’s Story

Darlene was offered a job at a start as an Advisor success manager, which she accepted on the condition that she would later become a product manager.

Anthony’s Story

Anthony was recruited by a startup that wanted to use the blend of his BA, UX, and technical skills, which helped in his internal transition into a product management role.

Transition internally within your current company.

Individuals that fall into this category learn about product management and realize their desire to fill that role while engaged in a different role at a company. They position themselves very close to customers and the development teams to understand the flow of how new features are determined. In addition to other learnings done outside the work environment, candidates eventually find the confidence to speak up and voice their desire to move within the company.

Tevis’s Story

Tevis leveraged the insights he had access to in his operations role and presented a business case to the CEO, which secured his transition into product management.

Jackie’s Story

Jackie saw a way to improve the workflow of the photographers and made suggestions to improve the internal tools, which provided a path to transition internally into product management.

Sorren’s Story

Sorren moved internally across multiple roles in marketing, and when a product specialist role opened up, she transferred internally and was then later promoted to a Product Manager.

Part 3- Product Skill Sets

Curiosity and Empathy

Persistence

This chapter shares the story of Mark, who used persistence to get a job as a Product Manager.

Comprehensiveness

This chapter shares the story of Alex, who used comprehensiveness to get a job as a Product Manager.

Initiative and the Desire to Learn

This chapter shares the story of Jenny, who used her initiative and desire to learn to get a job as a Product Manager.

Communication

This chapter shares the story of Eric, who used his communication skills to get a job as a Product Manager.

Being a Team Player

This chapter shares the story of Morgan, who used her strength as a team player to get a job as a Product Manager.

Detail Orientedness

This chapter shares the story of Andrea, who used her attention to detail to get a job as a Product Manager.

Resourcefulness

This chapter shares the story of Mostafa, who showcased resourcefulness as a strength to get a job as a Product Manager.

Adaptability

This chapter shares the story of Quadri, who was adaptable, which helped him get a job as a Product Manager.

Continuous Improvement

This chapter shares the story of Magda, who used continuous improvement for her resume to get a job as a Product Manager.

Presentation

This chapter shares the story of Mann who used his presentation skills to get a job as a Product Manager.

What's Next?

I really enjoyed putting this project together, and if you found it valuable, please shoot me a note on LinkedIn and let me know what you think. I'd appreciate it. If any of the stories really inspired you, reach out to the person and tell them what action you were able to take, which helped you in your journey. I'm sure they will appreciate it.

I intentionally started with this project because it is early in the funnel for those who have just begun gathering information about product management or the technology industry. By now, you should have a better understanding of what it takes to get into product, and how others have landed their first product roles. You are also aware of the challenges necessary. Be kind to yourself and understand that it might take some time to achieve your goal. However, rest assured that it is possible. I hope by reflecting on the stories, they will keep you motivated to keep pushing forward.

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