Welcome to the Flip Side
Having changed roles (or at least titles) almost once every year (TAM@2014➔SAM@2016➔TSM@2017➔TAM Lead@2018➔CSM@2019➔CSA@2020), I don’t usually make a huge deal about role changes but this is a major pivot ending a 7 year long chapter in my career and thus an exception.
Bitter sweet moment as this minute will mark the end of a 7 year long chapter in my career.— Partheeban Kandasamy (PK) (@pkblah) July 17, 2021
Over the last 7 years, I’ve had the incredible opportunity to work with large Enterprises, form great relationships and helped several meet their digital transformation goals. While I’ve enjoyed working with Customers, my heart was elsewhere. I kept wanting to make a much wider impact… as much impact as the universe would allow me. After introspecting, I felt that I could achieve that as a Product Manager and thus several years after setting my mind on the role, I’m glad to announce that I’ll be joining the Product Management team within EUC to focus on improving Employee Experience with Hub Services. A product that has been close to my heart as it has unlimited potential to make tremendous impact to the life of Employees.
For those that are not aware, Hub Services power the Workspace ONE Intelligent Hub app on all the supported platforms to serve as the go to app that lets you discover everything about your work.
- Do you need an app that is IT approved? Hub provides access to the unified app catalog granting access to Native Apps, Web Apps and Virtual Apps
- Do you need to look up or connect with a colleague? Hub Services through the People tab provide access to quickly search your Corporate Directory and provides the ability to email or call them with a single touch
- Do you need access to your Help desk or self manage your device? Hub Services through the Support tab provides the ability to quickly
- and more… - Experience Workflows coupled with a powerful Notifications engine provide endless possibilities to stay aware and take quick actions without ever leaving the Hub App.
This move took several years in the making and I wanted to share my journey in the hopes that it will help others in the future!
Here is a look at the timeline…
The first time I started to consider Product Management as a potential career path - I had expressed to my manager about my interest in being a Product Manager and how it aligns well with my skill set. I had very little idea about the role but the motivation then was to get closer to engineering and thus closer to innovation!
I got married and we adopted a dog. Career was on Autopilot cos needless to say, I was pretty busy! 😍
The idea of building new things was an aspect about Product Management that I liked. Since I’d always been building things, I started to channel that energy towards enabling the TAM team by building SME teams, Labs, Automated tools and processes that help the team scale and be more efficient with their Customer Engagements.
For the welfare of the family, I had to set my career plans aside and relocated from Atlanta to Seattle. This limited my prospects of switching internally as a PM since most teams required PMs to be co-located with their development team.
I did a year long certification program on Product Management - a long, gruelling and enlightening course where I got a better perspective for the role - not just the positives but also the negative aspects of the role. I wrote this post where I said I’ll share more insights about the Product Management role
I got the opportunity to manage an incubating Product called #VEBA which gave me tremendous insights and gave me the opportunity to learn new technology as well as exercise the Product muscles
BEING A PM w/o THE TITLE
It’s been over a year since #VEBA and exactly a year since I started as a Staff Customer Success Architect. I have the most amazing manager (also a great mentor) who helped grow me as an individual and gave me tremendous opportunities to lead various projects - WS1 Access Migration Fling, Project ESO, Modern Management Customer Journey etc. I was not a PM by title but I was approached everything with a Product Management lens and mindset.
Beginning of an another new Chapter :)
Now that you’ve seen my Journey - the wins, the detours and the road blocks…let me share some additional insights that might help you if you are on the same Journey as well.
DISCLAIMER: I’ll preface this with a disclaimer that (like everything else in life) there is no
Nstep plan to achieve your goals. It takes immense curiosity, courage, a lot of hard work, failures, perseverance and dedication (or at least that was the case in mine) to get to your goals.
First and foremost, I highly suggest doing some retrospection as well as introspection to truly understand yourself and where you stand today
- What is your background?
- What drives you? What bothers you?
- What are you willing to give up? What will make you give up your goals?
- Why do you want this role?
- Identify your strengths
- make a note of skills and behaviors that align well with the Product Management role
- Identify your areas of improvement and gaps
- plan on seeking opportunities and experiences that help you improve in these areas
This exercise is not only going to help you formulate a plan but it will also help you in your interviews (when the time comes).
A successful PM knows their domain (or their product) really well - examples: Cloud, Kubernetes, End User Computing etc. Early on in my search, I had reached out to several hiring managers and one manager (that was kind enough to meet me) gave me this advice - “It is going to be hard for you to break into this role as you are neither familiar with the domain nor Product Management. I’d suggest you spend time getting your feet wet with either one before you look to get started”. So, my advice (for experienced folks, this could be applicable to college hires as well) is to double down on your current strengths (double down on being the expert of a technology or a product that you are passionate about) and seek opportunities that will add to your strengths.
You get closer to the role as you start bridging the gaps between your current self and your future Product Manager Self. Seek experiences that aim to improve yourself. Improve yourself as you would the Product that you manage. In my case, these were through opportunities such as
- more speaking opportunities
- more collaboration activities
- more influencing and leadership experiences
Before others see you as a PM, you have to start seeing yourself in that role and start observing and analysing everything from a Product Management lens.
Finding the right mentor is going to be a huge milestone in your journey to Product Management. I cast a very wide net and a lot of people offered to help but couldn’t provide the exact guidance I needed as they were
- not in my industry and so couldn’t relate to my background or experiences
- they were too busy to commit to follow up meetings
- I was not clear about what I wanted from them
Since not everyone might have the willingness or the time to help someone without any benefit, seek mentors that
- are also hiring managers as they are looking for roles to fill and you may be the right candidate
- share something in common with your goal. For example, seek an accomplished B2B PM that works in a specific area that you are interested in. This would help build your relationship by having meaningful discussions about the Product or the Role
Network, Network, Network
Since PM roles get a lot of applicants, Recruiters will often overlook random resumes and prioritize only those with relevant PM experience. So, this is going to be an obvious tip - Start networking! Maintain a broad network! It is going to be a chore in itself but this is going to help you get your foot in the door some day! You are never going to be able to tell where your next opportunity is going to come from and so start building your network from day 1.
Invest in yourself!
Some final parting advice - continue to invest time in yourself, challenge yourself and raise your own bar. You may not get what you had hoped but you will definitely grow in your career. Investing in yourself will definitely help increase your confidence in yourself and provide a lot of good stories to share some day!
Only Getting Started
When I look back at the range of emotions that I’ve endured in the last few years, I was reminded of this thread that I posted after running a 10K (FYI, I wasn’t racing anyone but only against myself to go further and faster)
After completing that run, I was able to relax, unwind and rejoice! It feels the same way now in that I’m happy knowing that I’ve reached my goal…BUT that was only the practice run. I have a full marathon ahead of me and will continue to give guidance and share my learnings along the way!