Practical Blog ProductDo

Moving to Product Management Role in an IT-giant

My name is Vladimir, I am the Group Product Manager at Seven years ago I decided that I needed to leave my comfort zone and the city where I had lived for 26 years and try myself in a European company. Based on this personal experience and the experience of a bunch of IT people who have done the same, I'm happy to share the product management part of the experience with you.

Why move in the first place? To boost your PM skills

To put it simply, a PM can develop in their profession if the environment is not easy but challenging. Point is, our hometowns do not always offer many such tasks. But hey, you can learn it somewhere else and then come back home :) But if you dream of working with various products of a global scale, then you’ll need to be in a company than can offer you proper environment.
Below I will explore some possible options. Not of exact companies, rather, of possible ways to move.

The easier way: to build up on your existing skills

If you are a developer, a marketer, an analyst, it is easier to start your in a new company in this exact role. Later, when you settle down in this company and start understanding inner processes, you can combine your existing experience with practical PM skills. To make your adaptation in this role smoother, it makes sense to start with small product features or with only one client, but perform all PM tasks there.

The harder way: to start as a newbie PM

If you have little to no experience, but you want to become a PM immediately, then you will need to squeeze the maximum out of your existing knowledge and show that you are better than a local IT university graduate. To do this, you are going to need to solve as many practical problems as possible from the product management base and, ideally, lay the foundations for advanced topics. Some of them are product architecture, crashes / stability / security, advanced analytics and A / B testing, etc. At the end of the day, these topics (not theories from a book) are what you will face in your daily work. One can practice it on online simulators or courses—-but yet again, make sure they are hands-on, not theoretical.
All in all, if you manage to prove that you indeed know something despite being a newbie, you might get a job.

The faster employment: apply to beginner positions

Oftentimes growing companies have entry-level positions. They might be called Associate / Graduate / Junior Product Manager. So what you wanna do here is to google jobs in the city of interest by these keywords.
The main thing here is not to count on getting a dream project from the first day: no one will entrust an important one to a newcomer. More so, trust my experience here, the newbie won’t like it either. First, get ready to show the result where necessary, and only then, when you have developed your skills, you will be given dream projects. Oh, and despite being entry-level, those positions often offer quite pleasant salaries.

The faster growth: look for jobs in big companies

Personally, I highly recommend large-scale companies, because they immediately teach you how the “real” work is done: a bunch of clients, traffic, priorities, tasks, packs, a huge selection of products, and colleagues who will help you grow. But, of course, you will have to work hard to turn this “growth opportunity” into skills and promotions.
A disadvantage of small companies is that they may not give you all this. And one day, they may simply close down.
Me and my colleagues here, we all started from zero, and oh, how I wish I had somebody give me the essential knowledge at the beginning of my journey. In reality, II had to figure it out myself.

The good news: expect a warm welcome

There are few good specialists, and they are valued high enough, so if you pass the interview, they will help you relocate. Visas, transportation for you, your family, your dog, your sofa, help with finding an apartment, all sorts of integration goodies, etc. - the full package is yours.
I also want to mention a nice corporate culture. Sometimes seeing how one of my friends (who is not in Europe) answers phone calls at night and looks nervously at the phone all the time, I understand how lucky I am with the culture of European companies: no chats after the end of the working day, and nobody disturbs you on weekends and holidays. Lucky me! In some other cultures, this is much more difficult. Europe does business according to the old knightly rules: we fight during the day, but a day off is a day off, period.

The bad news: good English is a must

If a programmer can still get by with some school English, this is not permissible for a product leader due to the sociability of the profession. Fortunately, now there are many services that allow you to find a native speaker to practice with, a decent brick-and-mortar school, or a private online tutor. The bottom line is, a good level of English is a must for an aspiring Product Manager.
I hope my article helped you! as you might have noticed, I love talking about everything related to PM's job, duties, experience, etc. So see you soon again.