The year 2020 has been challenging for each of us in different ways. I had a financial goal for 2020 – to save enough money in my emergency savings fund. When I exceeded that goal, I decided invest the exceeded amount. As I looked at various options, investing in myself seemed the best and wisest of all options.
My first association with Product School goes back to 2018. As a graduate, I had just learnt about Product Management. As an ex-management consultant, product management did not seem an ambitious goal, but achievable due to the nature of the job, and the various overlapping aspects between the two paths – client/customer relationship management, backlog management, stakeholder management, soft skills including communication skills to name a few overlapping aspects.
However, product management is extremely different from management consulting in many ways – the time one spends in problem space vs solution space, mindset approaching a problem to name a few. As a consultant, though understanding a client problem was important, I was more focused on finding the best solution. My canvas was as big as the product itself. As a product manager though, my canvas is the customer journey and beyond. Product as a product manager is the tool to solve the customer problem, but not a means to the end.
Speaking of mindset, while preparing for product management I had to work internally to think different and be able to ask different questions. Product School, has various free resources like webinars, blogs, events that are great starting points, especially for someone trying to understand the space more. As someone who had a clue about product management, the amount of information I found spread across the internet was overwhelming. I was looking for a credible source that I could trust blindly. During the same time, I attended #ProductCon (a conference hosted by Product School), and loved the idea of getting experts from the field to talk about this career. I finally found the credible source I was looking for.
I completed my masters in 2019 and started my job as a Product Manager with Synacor, a SaaS company based out of NY. Cloud ID is one of its platforms offering Identity services. Identity management was new to me, and I spent most of 2019 learning about identity and access management – studying competitors and applying my product learnings along the way.
Somewhere down the lane, in 2020, I stopped growing as a product manager, and my learnings were limited to aspects related to identity and access management. I also had a financial goal for 2020 that once reached, I wanted to invest 10% of the amount into my future. Of all the options, it made the most sense to invest the money into something that would aid my personal and professional growth.
Product Management is not just a job but a career path, if you are looking for a job that would keep you excited, product management is one of the best options in the IT space. Apart from keeping on your toes, it also demands continuous learning and a passion for problem solving. Complacency has no space in this role. While I was able to apply my theoretical knowledge into work, I still had no clue what industry standards are, and how the giants are navigating in the product space. I turned to my tried and tested partner ‘Product School’ and applied for their Product Management Certification Program.
Product School’s PMC is a 16-hour program, where you have the ability to choose weekend classes or week-day classes. I chose the weekend program, where we’d have two 2.5 hours sessions – morning and afternoon – over varied topics related to product management. I documented my experience each week on LinkedIn, not only sharing insights about the topics we discussed but also sharing my key takeaways each week.
Check out Deepti’s week by week review on LinkedIn:
The nature and structure of the course was more discussion oriented as opposed to a lecture. The more participation, the more questions asked, the more value one would get. Each week, the candidate would have access to the course materials, including take home exercises which are extremely beneficial to apply learnings from classroom into a project. Each take home exercise serves as an input into the final project every candidate has to present at the end of the course – either individually or in a group.
Our class was diverse, in that we had folks from various backgrounds and at various stages in a career – from students to product managers to software engineers, project managers, or quality analysts looking for a transition into Product Management. Like others in my class, I had unique needs when I joined the course.
I wanted to learn more about go-to-market strategy, and I was more interested in case studies discussed in the course than the content. All through 2019 and 2020, I was reading anything and everything I was getting my hands on about product, however I lost focus and I was missing real time examples, stories about how a company solved a certain problem. Product School was the right fit to bridge the gap.
Our instructor was Debankur Naskar, a product leader from Apple. Over the course of 8-weeks, I also observed and listened through the class, and tried to be a part of discussions as much as possible. As a result, I learnt as much from fellow students as from the instructor.
See Deepti’s instructor in action! See his talk on How Search Engine’s Work from 2018:
It is amazing to see the various viewpoints one brings to the table. I can however, attest to the fact that a candidate has to be highly driven and motivated to get the bang for your bucks. Though candidates are encouraged to take home exercises, and participate in the class, there is no hard and fast rule to meet the criteria to get your certification. As with any certificate, (a document cannot sum up a person’s worth) it alone does not guarantee a job. I am often asked about which certifications one should obtain to get a job. My usual answer is ‘none’.
One should consider taking up a certification, either to transition into a career or grow, because the course itself will provide the subject matter, guidance in navigating the job search, and the interview skills you need to land one. Product School in fact does not guarantee placements, but what it does provide are the tools to think and speak like a product manager. Managing tools, navigating the course, and curating needs is up to the candidate.
As a product manager who transitioned into this role from management consulting, I was looking for a course structure that was extensive, in case studies and less theoretical. Before joining the course, I was aware of most of the concepts taught, but I wanted to become a better storyteller. I would say, Product School helped me accomplish my goal. I am a better story teller now, hoping it is evident to anyone reading this article. 😊
Meet the Author
Deepti Tadala is currently a technical product manager at Synacor, a Saas company. She leads a part of consumer identity and access management platform, inclined towards building a go-to market strategy for her product line. She transitioned into this role from management consulting having spent close to 4 years in the industry as consultant. Her inclination towards strategy and problem solving drew her into product management.
An active member across various product communities. She also writes poetry. Listen to her podcast to know more about her journey.
Join others like Deepti in our community for product people, Product School Pro.