Pivoting to Product Management

I pivoted from Marketing Manager to Product Manager in September.

The thought of changing jobs crept up early this year — or late last year, I can’t quite remember — thanks to a suggestion from my manager.

I was reluctant at first. I’d never held a Product title before. I wasn’t sure if I was even qualified. But my manager encouraged me to keep thinking about it.

“You’re such a product guy.”

Maybe…?

My time at GoDaddy began in 2015 when I was hired as a Community Manager for GoDaddy Pro. In 2016, I moved to technical content marketing on the GoDaddy Blog team. In 2019, my role expanded again to look after both community and content strategy for GoDaddy Pro.

This was all in the context of marketing. I had a Senior Marketing Manager role in a Marketing team. Why would I shift to Product? I mean, I had opinions on product. But everyone has opinions.

Yet I kept thinking about the switch. I was curious.

I looked up descriptions of the Product Management job path at GoDaddy. Most of the responsibilities seemed similar to what I was already doing: identifying needs; working with stakeholders; creating plans; and seeing work through to completion.

In fact, since joining the Blog team in 2016, it seemed like I had already been filling a sort of pseudo-PM role, tapping into my prior experience in building and managing websites.

Still, I felt like there was a wide chasm between that sort of work, and the more concrete role of a full-on Product Manager.

A few weeks later, I spoke with a colleague who was also at a fork in the road with their job. We traded notes and talked through the trajectory of our careers.

Thanks to that chat, I realized that my reluctance to move into Product was mostly because of fear. What if I wasn’t cut out for it? What if I failed? I didn’t want to rock the boat — or worse!

The uncertainty was a challenge, and I was letting my anxiety get the best of me.

Without challenge, we can’t grow.

Coming out of that conversation, my colleague and I agreed to take the leap and shift our career paths towards new — and potentially more fulfilling — roles.

I told my manager that I was interested in making the move into Product. We chose to make it happen in September, a few months out, around my six-year anniversary at GoDaddy.

In the meantime, I dove headfirst into everything I could get my hands on about the world of Product Management. And what I realized, after starting to dig into all these resources, was that I had picked up a lot of the skills from my previous work.

Starting with my hobby of building forums and fansites in the early 2000’s, through my web work in the early 2010’s, through to my responsibilities at GoDaddy, everything was very much in line with the duties of a Product Manager.

Apparently I wasn’t alone in realizing that. In September, my new role and title — Senior Product Manager — was formalized by HR.

Still, I felt a lot of imposter syndrome, coming fresh into a Senior PM role.

There are gaps in my experience, and I’m greener in this field than, say, content strategy.

But I’m eager to learn and fill those gaps.

Learning in public

I’m immersing myself in on-demand courses from providers like Product School; hanging out in product management groups like Mind the Product; and devouring books, articles, and podcasts from the likes of OpenView and First Round Review.

Someone made a comment on a podcast, and while I can’t remember the person or the podcast, the gist of it stuck with me. There are a lot of voices from experienced PMs, but not a ton from people who are new to the role and just finding their way.

I’d like to be one of those newbies. That’s why I’m resolving to learn in public; to share my evolving observations, notes, and thoughts on Product Management; and to amplify others who don’t have the same privileges as myself (i.e., white guy working in tech).

Beyond that, I’m keen to start using nocode platforms like Adalo, Bubble, Softr, and of course WordPress, to apply the concepts I’ve learned and build useful prototypes.

So there we are. I’m in Product now. Wish me luck.

***

Image credit: Timothy Kolczak on Unsplash

Footnote: I’m going to try and write one of these each week. There’s a stack of outlines sitting in my personal OneNote that I’ve accumulated over, like, two years. I keep putting off the writing, thinking I’ll get around to it on a Friday, but by the time Friday rolls around, I’m done. So I’m taking that mindset and applying it to the start of the week. Call it a Monday Morning Memo or whatever, idk. Harass me on Twitter or LinkedIn to keep me honest.

Have a great week,

Andy

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