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

9: Everything benefits from a good start in life

I’m writing about one hundred things I’ve learned about being a product manager.

Don’t you find that it is always so hard to recover something that started badly?  Whether it’s a development project, a product launch, or a new starter in your team, you can be reasonably certain that each will benefit from a good start.

Continue reading

DIY Eco Linux Fileserver (part 1)

Every now and again, I undertake a DIY tech project. I think it’s because I’m a geek at heart and I like to think to myself a little smugly, “still got it”.

The Project Brief

This time the brief actually came from my lovely wife: shrink the physical footprint and electricity consumption of the servers running 24/7 in the home office.  The beige boxes are going green!

Continue reading

Secure WordPress Admin on Zeus Web Server

This post is a bit off-topic, but if you want to host your own copy of WordPress on Zeus Web Server, you may find the following information saves you a bit of time.  I decided to share this article this article with you once I’d figured out how to avoid the so-called “white screen of death”, i.e. when pop-ups for link or image insertion into posts show up blank.

Continue reading

Context is everything

BMW Versus Audi

Your developers may be happiest when they’re hacking gnarly code, leaving you to get on with engaging with the market, but this doesn’t mean you can ignore their need for context – the ‘why’ of their project.

Over the years, I have spoken to many disgruntled developers over a beer after work.  This isn’t entirely coincidental as they tend to dwell in the kind of pubs I enjoy: real ale, good selection of crisps, ability to hear oneself think, minimal bar fights, that kind of thing.

What tends to be a recurring theme of their disgruntlement is that they don’t see the point of their current project. They feel aggrieved that they’re not doing something more interesting instead.  And you know what, if it’s your project, it’s your fault.  Bad product manager.

Continue reading