Editor’s note: ‘Product Manager’ can be an ambiguous term in some companies, like ‘UX’ has been in recent times. A big part of what we’re trying to do at MindTheProduct is help companies understand the Product Manager and to identify this person formally within their teams. Almost always, at least one person is already doing product management internally without really knowing it. This is a guest post from Emma Harris who recently experienced this and the benefits that ensued.
Discovering Product Management
I attended the February 2011 ProductCamp London at the Guardian offices at York Place, London. I work in what is described by many as ‘publishing’, which is very much an industry in transition, from ‘trad’ publishing (books are books) to ‘digital’ (content + product). Product Manager was not a job title I was really aware of but I liked the attitude of the ProductCamp marketing and was curious to see what the day had to offer.
Although I was the only person working in non-magazine publishing (as I have mentioned, they still have one foot in the past), the penny dropped when I realised that everyone in the room – whether employed by a magazine publisher, a film rental company or a gas company – wanted to know how best to get their product to its market. I realised: that’s what I do too!
What did I do after ProductCamp?
I LinkedIn with people, I followed them on Twitter, I Liked their Slideshare presentations.
I shared my learnings with colleagues and managers.
I presented at an ePublishing conference. Seeing those excellent ProductCamp presentations gave me the will to pass on my experience.
I rewrote my job description. By setting out what I did in the context of a product management role I easily persuaded my managers that a Product Manager is what I am, and what they need more of. The job description I wrote is now being replicated across the business.
I got a promotion! Clearly setting out this valuable combination of skills – particularly my customer insight, technical understanding and strategic oversight – convinced the business that I was working at a higher level than they had believed.
And now… I have a new job! The confidence that I gained from realising that I am part of this community of intelligent, imaginative, courageous and truly practical people, and the focus that has given me has enabled me to land a great new job.
In less than a year I have turned my career around and now have a clear direction to continue progressing. I will of course be coming along to ProductTank events, but am taking this opportunity to reiterate my request for another ProductCamp London ASAP. I want to bring my energy, excitement and enthusiasm to share with fellow ProductCampers – and maybe also to help someone else to find their next step.
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