When I was about five years old my kindergarten teacher asked my class about our aspirations for the future. While the boys around me eagerly declared their dreams of becoming police officers, firefighters or footballers, I stood tall and declared: I wanna be a product manager.
(What I actually said was I want to be a firefighter, but it would’ve been a good story, don’t you think?)
A bit of history
Throughout my childhood and teenage years, I enjoyed building (and breaking) stuff. From Lego and wooden blocks, to more serious stuff such as building an impressive house in Sims, or building my own hospital in Theme Hospital (remember that game?). In high school I told everyone that I was going to become an architect. I even took design classes in order to get into college, but guess what? I failed the entrance exam. Thank goodness for that – architecture would not have been for me.
Fast forward a few years, after completing my education at a business college and taking a four-month QA course, I landed my first job in IT. It seemed like a boy’s dream job: Game Tester. I was paid to play mobile games, to try to make the game crash and then record my findings. But I resigned after a month, because I didn’t relate to the company’s way of working and culture. Being unemployed and open to job openings seemed the solution back then. It was quite a leap of faith.
Landing my first job in IT
After six weeks, I was blessed to get my first job as an ecommerce project manager. I was 22 years old. We were helping small and medium-sized businesses set up their Magento or WordPress store and sell online. I led a team of five developers and a designer and at times I would be managing about 20 projects simultaneously, all at different stages. I am and will be forever grateful to Adi and Diana, Netlogiq’s owners, for trusting and giving me this amazing opportunity. I learned so much from them and I cannot express how much I respect and appreciate them and their work. Adi, Diana, if you’re reading this (and I hope you do, because we’re Linkedin and Facebook friends), THANK YOU!
I will fast-forward the next few years and just say that being young and ambitious, I never refused a good challenge and opportunity to grow. I’ve gone through different roles: from project manager and business analyst to proxy product owner and product owner. But in all these roles, something was missing. Each job took me closer to what I actually wanted from the beginning: product management.
What I love about product management
It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what I find so captivating about product management, but several aspects come to mind.
Is it the constantly changing variables that make this role so dynamic and varied? Technology is evolving at a rapid pace, customers’ needs are continuously shifting and evolving, resulting in a perpetually evolving product. The product is never done.
Is it the diverse array of individuals you engage with on a daily basis that energises you? Customers, squad members, management, people from customer support, sales, finance, you name it.
Or maybe it’s the mix of skills needed for the job that make you an ever-evolving professional? Add some technical expertise, some critical and strategic thinking combined with problem-solving skills, mix it well with some business savviness and ability to analyze and interpret data, sprinkle some UI/UX skills and serve it with good communication skills and a knack for storytelling. Don’t forget to prioritise everything accordingly!
What about the exhilaration of discovering a customer problem, bringing order to chaos, and collaborating with the squad to deliver potential solutions to that very problem?
Or the immense joy experienced during a customer interview, when an individual shares how profoundly their life has improved thanks to your product?
Yes, all it’s of this and more.
Besides, I think it resonates with my deep, inner being. I embrace Christian values and I try to live up to them daily. I believe that God is the ultimate creative artist, and through my work, I aspire to reflect His character and make the world a better place, while loving people. This motivates me to create products that have a positive impact and help people in meaningful ways. How would I love people if I knew that I was building something that has the potential to become a harmful addiction, or something that I know will be used in a bad way? In any case, the sheer joy derived from crafting something meaningful out of nothing and witnessing its practical utilisation makes me happy.
Confucius has a quote that goes well with this article. I’m sure you’re familiar with it.
“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”
When you find yourself immersed in a job you truly love, something magical happens. The boundaries between work and play blur, and each day becomes an opportunity for fulfillment and personal growth. Sure, on Friday, you’re still counting the hours until the weekend, but on Sunday, you’re also counting the hours until Monday. With every task and challenge, you feel a sense of purpose and enthusiasm, as if the work itself becomes a source of inspiration. So, dare to follow your heart, guided by reason, seek that job you love, and watch as your days transform into a seamless blend of productivity and pure bliss.
My journey in the product field is far from over, and I eagerly anticipate the challenges, discoveries, and opportunities that lie ahead. However, if you do have an opening for a firefighter role, let me know and I may give it a try 🙂
Do you remember what your dream job was as a child? Tell me about it in the comments. Feel free to also include one thing you love about product management.