Q&A: Should I take a different role before applying to become a product manager?

People sometimes ask me for career advice. Here’s a recent question:

Hi Jock,

I’m an entrepreneur, product/program manager and hardcore gamer. I’m facing a dilemma in my career’s direction. I’m split between my love for the game industry (dreaming of launching a game with a team), and my passion for product management (I would love to be a PM for a tech company).

I’ve applied to both the game industry for producer positions (no PM there), and to tech companies for PM roles. Got a few interviews for PM, but I may lack experience. On the other hand, I’ve got an offer in a big game studio for a production coordinator role (about project and people management, primarily). My manager is experienced and believes in me, and it would be for a triple A game.

I would see myself being a product manager for a tech company, or a game director in a studio. So not only managing projects and teams, but also having a vision for the product/games, researching the market, coming up with features, roadmaps, and so on. I feel I already have a good “product sense”, but I may be lacking in terms of experience, management (especially with engineers), and leadership.

Do you feel being a production coordinator would be a good or at least relevant move toward this career?

Thanks for your help,

Y

Read on for my reply.

Continue reading

How do you establish an effective product management team?

I returned to Bristol recently to guest host the Threads meetup. Clearly I didn’t put them off the first time. Threads is a monthly roundtable discussion for entrepreneurs and founders of technology scale-up businesses based in the South West of England.

This month’s topic was on the practicalities of building successful product teams.

If you’re also interested in learning about building successful product teams, I can come to your company and speak about it in more detail.

Contact me if you’d like to book me to speak at your event.

You can find the write-up, with comments from me over on the Techspark blog.

Threads II – The Sequel

If you’re in or around Bristol and are a tech founder or leader, I’ll be hosting the February Threads meetup again. Like you, I have no idea why they invited me back.

We’ll be talking about when and how to build a product team on Wednesday 6th February from 18:00 at Ashfords LLC, Tower Wharf, Cheese Lane, Bristol, BS2 0JJ.

Sign up to attend on Meetup.

Product management has evolved. Has your company?

I popped over to Bristol recently to guest host the Threads meetup. Threads is a monthly roundtable discussion for entrepreneurs and founders of technology scale-up businesses based in the South West of England.

This month’s topic was on product management in general. For most around the table, it was a completely or relatively new concept, so our lively discussion started with the fundamentals.

If you’re also interested in learning about the fundamentals of product management, handily I have a day’s training course that covers that very topic.

Contact me if you’d like to attend product management training.

You can find the write-up, with comments from me over on the Techspark blog.

Q&A: What skills do I need to be a freelance product manager?

People ask me from time to time about how they can get into freelance product management. Here’s a recent question:

Hi Jock,

I’ve been working as a product manager for 5 years now. I worked in different industries (financial, loyalty, media, fintech) and now I am starting to manage a team of product managers and setting up a product team as a senior product manager, as well as managing my own product.

I was thinking about starting consulting in 2-3 years of time. What are the skill sets I need to focus on and improve during this time period?

Thanks,

N

Read on for my reply.

Continue reading

Speaking at DevTalks Bucharest in June

Hello!

I’ve not published a great deal on the blog recently. In my defence, I’ve been doing a fair amount of paid writing work and my brain has run out of words temporarily.

If you’re interested, I’m writing (then delivering) a new training workshop on metrics and analytics for the lovely Mind The Product folks for their 2018 London conference; and I’m in the midst of writing a new talk on ethics in product management for DevTalks Bucharest.

Tickets are on sale for both, and the first lucky five readers can get free DevTalks tickets using the code JOCK18 or JOCKB18.

That’ll be a good test to see who’s paying attention :-)

And if you’d like me to write training or articles on product management for you, please get in touch.

Q&A: How do I make myself more suitable for a senior product role in UK government?

Here’s a question I’ve been asked recently:

Hi Jock,

I’d appreciate your advice on working for the GDS and different ministries. I have recently applied for senior positions (Deputy Director and Head of Product) at GDS and another UK government department.

On both occasions I was told that while I had the skills, my previous products had not been used by the millions of users, rather the hundreds of thousands, and therefore I was not considered the right person for the role.

This seems unusual given that building for 6 figure as oppose to 7 figure usage would not make that much difference in my opinion.

Could you recommend anything I could do to improve my suitability for next time a role like that comes available?

Many thanks,

D

Read on for my reply.

Continue reading