Career Advice For Aspiring Product Developers
Q & A with Franck
Advice To People Who Want To Get Into Product Development and Product Marketing
How important is education? How valuable is a traditional MBA? Engineering degree?
I feel a certain level of education is important. Not really the field, but the dedication in general demonstrating that you know how to work with a team (in different university projects). If it’s product related, you can get a better position at first, but even if it’s outside product, one might have to start at a lower position and climb your way up with good work. Learn from co-workers and get onto the project and you’ll learn from here.
In my opinion, these days, there is no value for someone to get an MBA if he/she hasn’t worked in a company for at least 10 years. You really need to know the different ropes of a business and to have real life examples before you can get the benefits of the theories being taught in business school. It can add value when you’ve reached a certain level of hierarchy, but being 23 years old, don’t expect to be VP of Product upon graduation.
I’ve seen a lot of people in product departments without engineering degrees who learn on the terrain through years of experiencing. What I feel in my case having the engineering degree gave me different ways of looking at things and that makes me unique, especially linked with a marketing education. I can communicate clearly with a broad range of people.
What kind of entry level experience is most important to get right now?
Go for being a product development assistant. First, the position is to assist the PM in the daily tasks and sharing the initiatives and the desire of running a project demonstrates productivity, independence, and the will to make the team shine within the company.
How should I conduct myself within the business environment?
Integrity, humility, and respect. Don’t be intimidated: speak up when you have suggestions and ideas.
How important is relationship building?
It’s one of the most important parts of the business. Good relationships will really make someone give their best, help you out when you are in need of help. It will make a project go faster. You may get easier conversations to negotiate price. With that said, don’t confuse good relationships with friendships when it comes to negotiation. Sometimes, you have to put your fist on the table at negotiation time and people can take things personally.
What are the ideal personal attributes of a product development/marketing professional?
Just look at my resume. Ha. It’s obviously product expertise, a person who is easy to talk to, proactive, problem solver, sees a bigger picture. Someone who can look at things in different ways. For a product marketing person, to be an excellent verbal communicator.
What will the product manager five years into the future look like?
Someone who is versatile. Someone who can wears different hats and excels in different activities: design, logistics, marketing communications, sales, a little of everything.
How important is international experience?
If you are looking at companies who do business internationally, it’s key. Understand why people with different cultures buy differently, see products in different way, and opens your mind to creating products that are different. And, you’ll be more open minded to new concepts in general.
I don’t have a traditional profile for product management, but I’d like to transition in. What should I know before I do this?
It’s one of the best jobs in a company. You have so many different things to do that you’ll never get bored, as every day is different. However, you are manager of the product. In a lot of ways, you don’t manage people – you work with them. So, if you’re looking to boss people around, then it’s not the right job for you.