Product School

Product School Alum Answers: “What Can I Expect from a PM Certification?”

Ellen Merryweather

Ellen Merryweather

January 09, 2023 - 5 min read

Updated: January 24, 2024 - 5 min read

We know how much our alumni enjoy our certification. From the connections they make with the rest of their cohort, to the mentorship they receive from their expert instructors.

A lot of prospective Product School students have questions about what it’s like to get certified as a Product Manager. We asked an alum of our online cohort, Olasile Abolade, about his experience.

What got you started on your Product career? Is tech something you were always interested in?

I always loved building stuff – from a very young age either with a LEGO brick or making sand castles with clay till my college undergraduate days where I participated in several student race car design competitions.

I would like to say that PM drew me to Tech rather than Tech drawing me to PM. I can’t envision myself working in the Tech industry as anything but a PM.

What skills as a Consultant are particularly useful to a Product role?

There are many of them but the most relevant is communicating and persuading different stakeholders such as customers, marketing, sales, executives, etc. In the world of management or strategy consulting, you are trying to help a client solve a problem or advise them on a new business strategy. In the PM world you have to shift your focus to a certain customer or market segment. So your mindset has to shift from catering to an individual client to a whole market segment. But in all, both roles rely on good leadership and interpersonal qualities.

What inspired you to pursue a certification in Product Management?

I really wanted to get my hands dirty early on before I completed my transition to a PM role. So I thought learning the PM certification would provide me the platform to quickly experience how Product Managers think and feel, being able to sense opportunities and deliver an outstanding product that creates value for customers.

What was your experience like with your instructor?

At first, I didn’t know what to expect from the instructor but as the course progressed he gave everyone the autonomy to decide on what project ideas and companies to focus on for the final project. He was also made everyone get a hands-on experience in the classroom through different exercises on prototyping, wireframing, roadmapping and defining of metrics.

Meet Olasile’s instructor: Thomas Boonsiri, Product Management Lead at Google

What’s your advice for future Product School students?

If you are new to Tech or have a non-technical background, keep an open mind and don’t be frightened by the prospect of learning how to code or design. There are engineering and design teams for that. Instead, be ready to be practical and hands-on and show a great desire to learn.

What achievements are you most proud of?

Right now, I am working on a side project – developing an app for interview fitness – to help job seekers out there stay ready and prepared for all sorts of interview questions. When I do finish the project and get the opportunity to present it, that would be a crowning moment for me.

Where do you hope your career will take you in the future?

I’m hoping that I can develop and learn as fast as possible once I get my first PM role and experience. With that being said, I’m hoping my PM adventure takes me to an organization where the culture places a great emphasis on creating a great and unique customer experience.

Did you get what you expected from the course, or did something surprise you?

I was surprised by the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) aspect of the course e.g. conducting user surveys, doing market research, testing hypothesis etc. Coming from a pure technical background, I have never done so many activities in a course that involved so much experiential learning, but it was a great experience overall.

 What was your final project?

The final project was a presentation of a product of a company. We had been gradually building the final project by doing related assignments from Week 1 to Week 7. Each student had the choice to decide on what to present (company, product, features) and this could be anything from products or companies that they really cared about or have deep connections to. The project was designed in a way to help people prepare for that transition into a PM role.

How have you found the process of building a side project?

It has been somewhat challenging – writing and maintaining a code, especially when it’s tailored to a certain community or user group. But I’m hoping the experience will help me down the road as a PM to become a better leader and communicator.

How would you describe the Product Manager role to someone outside of the tech world?

Another word I use for Product Manager is General Manager. You are managing and leading several groups from engineering, design, marketing and data analytics teams.

You don’t have be an expert in a certain field e.g., software engineering or data science but you have to know enough in order to be able to speak and communicate with these groups in an effective and credible manner.

If you had to sum up Product Management in 3 words, what would they be?

Fail, Learn-Fast and Succeed!

Updated: January 24, 2024

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