In case you didn’t catch Brisbane's latest ProductTank (where our own Reese Provost was a panellist on the night alongside three industry professionals) talking about all things Product Management, strategies for succeeding in interviews, and excelling in your career you can read what you missed right here!
We had a chat with Product Management Coach and Leader Will Chan—who was also a panellist at the event—for some invaluable advice in this space that might help you progress your career.
Can you share your journey of transitioning into product management?
“I did business marketing at university, and while there, I did a two-month contract job as a manual QA tester for wotif.com, and I really enjoyed being in an office. So, I started applying for QA jobs, and I applied for one at Ladbrokes,” he says.
Will Chan ending up landing an interview with the Head of Product saying, “we got along like a house on fire”.
“The Head of Product said, 'I can hire you onto this QA budget, but I think you'd probably be better as a product person, and I can't pay you much, but I can get you in the door'.
Working for the company for a few months as a QA tester, he then headed straight into a product role.
“That's my journey in a nutshell.”
Did you face any challenges, and can you tell us how you overcame these?
“Number one, knowing this is the job that you want to do is the first challenge, and then the other difficulties are knowing there's a job like this that even exists, and knowing what that job entails.
If I were to go back and give myself advice, it would be to read a lot. There are so many online materials and a ton of books to learn from. My other advice is to connect in the network, as the product community is huge.”
Do you recommend any strategies for someone looking to transition into product management?
“From my experience, learn a lot about the profession, talk to as many people as possible, and find a mentor or someone who knows what they're doing to bounce ideas off.
I've told people to do fake case studies, and to imagine you're the product manager for Google Maps. What would you do next? Those kinds of questions are really good for training yourself.”
Will Chan recommends building a Squarespace website and putting your case studies online to brand yourself and network within the field.
Interviews can be quite challenging. Could you provide some tips or approaches that people can use to prepare for their upcoming interviews?
“Companies can interview product managers in many different ways, but essentially, they'll ask you product strategy and design questions.
They might ask tough estimation questions such as:
- 'How many hours would it take 10 window cleaners to clean every window in Chicago?'
- 'How many golf balls would fit into a Boeing 747?'
Or they might ask a whole bunch of interesting, high-level, and abstract questions such as:
- 'How do you design an alarm clock for a deaf person?'
- 'How do you create a keyboard for a blind person?'
- 'How would you design a Google bike?'
When I was hiring for a junior, I said, 'What do you know about product management?’, ‘What have you read?’, ‘Who have you talked to?’, and ‘Have you really tried to understand what the job is?’."
Will Chan suggests coming up with a method and a process for answering these hard questions.
“Preparation wins over everything else,” he says.
What are some ways you suggest product managers can keep refining their skills?
“There's a whole bunch of webinars that are always popping up and excellent materials out there. However, be cautious with what materials you decide to take in and what you don't.”
Will Chan also mentions that talking to people in the field, seeing how they work, and learning from and connecting with industry professionals on LinkedIn is a way to keep refining your skills.
“Listen to the thought leaders,” he says.
Networking can play a crucial role in career transitions. How did you build your network within the industry?
“About two years ago, I decided I wanted to become a part of the Brisbane Product Management Network, and I gave myself personal OKRs. The objective was to be known in the Brisbane Product Management Community as someone who knows what they're doing. And my key results were hosting a successful ProductTank.
I recommend that others sit down and come up with their own plan to follow.”
He suggests for anyone wanting to build up their network to map out a certain number of events to attend and make a list of people to talk to.
“And don't back out at the last minute!".
How do you stay updated with the latest industry trends? What resources or learning platforms would you recommend?
“A formal learning platform software that I recommend is Reforge; the content is high-level. The ex-head of product from both Tinder and Eventbrite is on there, so legit people who you can trust are present on the platform.”
Did you miss out on securing tickets to the ProductTank event—'Transitioning and Excelling in Product Management' a few weeks ago or any other events we've hosted or sponsored before?