People sometimes ask me for career advice. Here’s a recent question:
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,
Read on for my reply.
While I was working at a former start-up called Zeus Technology (now doing rather well for itself, thank you), one of the investors was a chap called Nic Brisbourne. He is a perfectly pleasant chap, but at the time he scared the life out of me. I think that subconsciously I worried I might scare him and his venture capital away. One day I accidentally nicked his taxi and he was surprising forgiving.
I am now much less insecure.
Aaaaaanyway, his blog is rather good. If you’re planning a new venture and want to hear the perspective from the money side of the table, take a look at the Equity Kicker.
Whether you’re part of a large, established company or a small, new start-up venture, you need to think like an entrepreneur if you manage products. Here’s a round-up of some of the presentations and discussions I attended at London’s recent ProductCamp, with links to the slide decks and recommended reading where applicable.
Summary of advice:
- Know your product, market, company, self: you need to go into your new venture / product management role with your eyes and ears open (via @cathyma)
- Keep validating your business case: a business case will evolve over time, you need to continue to check your assumptions throughout the process, in parallel with development (via @SaintSal)
- Learn how to influence others: whether they’re your investors, senior managers or other key stakeholders, convince them your approach is right through hard evidence and diplomacy (via @PaulLomax)