Journey to Product Manager
03 April 2023
What are the pathways to a career in product management, and which industries offer the most relevant opportunities?
On this episode of The Best Careers You Never Knew Existed, we sit down with project manager Mai Khalil to find out how product management professionals lead multidisciplinary teams and bridge the gap between the customer, business and technology. As consumer demands increase, discover why a growing number of industries are seeing product managers as essential for leading and influencing the most crucial function of an organization — the product.
- Executive Producer and Host: Lora Bucsis
- Co-Host: Zachary Novak
- Producer and Creative Director: Terran Anthony Allen
- Technical Producer: Jenna Smith
- Senior Marketing Strategist: James Boon
- Podcast Consultant: Roger Kingkade
- Voice Over: Beesley
The Province of Alberta is working in partnership with the Government of Canada to provide employment support programs and services.
Lora has always been a champion for forging one’s own path. A non-traditional, lifelong learner herself, Lora leads the team at SAIT responsible for educational products and learner success in Continuing Education and Professional Studies. Wildly curious about how jobs change over time, Lora believes that learning for 21st-century careers needs to come in several different forms from a number of different avenues. When she’s not binge-listening to podcasts or driving her teenagers around, you’ll find her hiking in Alberta’s backcountry — or falling off her bike.
Zachary is the Founder of Careers in Technology and Innovation (CITI), an online community that supports experienced professionals find and grow careers in technology. Through Careers in Technology and Innovation, Zachary has hosted over 150 events and has helped over 120 people land roles in tech.
Zachary is a community professional, also providing community consulting work through FML Studios Inc. Zachary was previously the Director of Community at RevvGo, Director of Product at Actionable.co, and spent seven years in investment banking. Zachary holds degrees in engineering, business administration, and is a software development bootcamp graduate.
SAIT Podcast: Journey to Product Manager Episode 3
ANNCR: The Best Careers You Never Knew Existed Podcast, sparked by SAIT, the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology, and co-hosted by CITI Careers and Technology and Innovation. The podcast that helps you navigate jobs in Alberta's emerging and exciting economy. Learn about careers like UX designer, robotic process automation, and international kitten cuddler. Maybe not the last one, but you get the picture. By talking with experts, leaders, and those who have done the journey in Alberta's emerging landscape, we'll provide the insight you need to expand into a new career.
Lora: Hi, I'm Lora, and I work at SAIT in Continuing Education and Professional Studies.
Zach: And I'm Zach, founder of Careers in Technology and Innovation.
Lora: Welcome to our podcast, The Best Careers You Never Knew Existed. And today we are talking about Product Management with Mai. We hope that you stick around afterwards for some resources and advice.
ANNCR: Now, here's a career you never knew existed.
Lora: Hi there. Welcome to our podcast, and today I'd like to welcome Mai. Mai, would you like to introduce yourself?
Mai: Hi. Thank you for having me. I'm Mai, and I work as a product manager at Deloitte Digital Canada. I’m a relative newcomer to Calgary, on year two now. And yeah, I'm happy to be part of this podcast.
Lora: Thanks Mai. So, we really wanted to talk about Product Management because it's close to my heart because we do it at SAIT, but I feel like it's an important role. Product managers are sometimes called the CEO of a product, and my understanding is they're responsible for the entire lifecycle of a product. Could you tell us a little bit about what you do and what your view on Product Management is?
Mai: Yeah, so I might have a different view on being called the CEO of the product. Maybe it's related to my atypical style of work as a management consultant. So, I see Product Management as leading a cross-functional team to create and deliver a product that delights customers. And as a product manager within a management consulting firm, this might not always be the case, but we are aligned on the fact that we solve customer problems. So, it entails working with cross-functional teams in design, sales, and marketing. And at the end of the day, we are solving a specific problem, whether it's at the inter-price level or at the customer or user level. So, it's the point of solving a problem and being always aligned on the vision and strategy of how we deliver.
Lora: I love that perspective of building products that delight customers. Can you talk a little bit about how you work with teams? My understanding is that as product managers don't typically have large teams that report to them, it's really a cross-functional exercise and maybe more leading through influence, advocacy, and the articulation of a strategy and vision.
Mai: Yeah. So, it's leading through influence, and I remember what Zach said before about Product Management: that sometimes it can get lonely, because you're influencing multiple teams, but at the same time, you might be executing on your own by working on strategy and developing a roadmap. But sometimes, as part of my work, I need to have some sort of plan or a direction to align the team on. So, it's bringing them back to why we're doing this, which has always been a dedicated role I take pride in sharing. The influence part is different for a management consultant because, yes, I work within a large team and have someone to report to. So, I know this might not be a typical role for smaller companies. So yes, in my situation, it's more about who I'm reporting to, but at the same time, what the type of teams I'm leading, there's still structure and what I'm managing within that specific project that can define my exact role. Sometimes it's all about execution, but again, it's going back to why I am doing this and if it's solving a specific problem.
Zach: Mai, were you always a product manager?
Mai: No, I was a practicing physician before pivoting into tech five years ago. And I can tell you the whole story, but for the sake of time, I mentioned that I was someone who wanted to immigrate to Canada for my children. As a practicing physician, I have a PhD in genetics and autism. I have a specific passion for the genetics of autism and ADHD in general and moved to Canada. It’s the typical story of my credentials not transferring, leaving Canada, and finding a way to bring my kids back to Canada without compromising my career growth. Deciding to leave medicine was coincidental, pivoting into educational technologies, not knowing that this would be my pathway toward Product Management. I started by doing everything: healthcare consulting, project management, and product ownership. Working closely with development teams and software engineers was an experience for me. But at the same time, it was enlightening and gave me this curiosity, which I was always known for, to learn more. And after some time, I realized, that's not Product Management that I had the title for back then, and I needed to learn more about what actual Product Management is. There are lots of online courses. And then, working as a product experience manager in that ed-tech startup, I started realizing that this is actually a role that I enjoy doing. I decided to go back to Canada, and that's when I realized that going back to Canada would require some sort of support, and that's where I found comfort in online communities. And in that case, I met Zach, and I was part of the CITI community from the beginning. And that's actually one of the things I would advise anyone trying to get into Product Management to do: support yourself. Create those meaningful relationships with people that can leverage your already present skills and direct you on how to maneuver Canada itself in the labour market.
Lora: Maybe since you mentioned CITI, I'll just take that on a tangent and have our listeners really check out Zach's community, career, and technology and innovation. Because it's a great space to connect with people and has changed a lot of people's lives.
Zach: It's our community, I say that all the time. That's been quite the journey. Were there any moments in time when you felt particularly lost or confused? And if you can speak to maybe how you found direction or something that helped you break through moments where you were unclear and got some more clarity?
Mai: Definitely. I always tell people that I am censoring 40 years of bitterness about my story about how I left medicine and how that made me feel, not knowing where to start in the business world. Is it the trend in business based on my background and my education? When I felt lost, my direction was to actually go and learn. Or go and listen to other people's views. I was addicted to things like podcasts, YouTube videos, and online certifications just to try to catch up with the new trends. But again, when I'm totally lost, I always feel like I need to connect with someone and sometimes use them as a soundboard or look for help and assistance. And again, going back to the community, hate to put you on the spot Zach, that was quite useful for me. I reached out to folks there, asking how LinkedIn is important because, again, I come from a medical background, LinkedIn meant nothing to me. How important was my LinkedIn profile, and how can I build a brand for myself? The idea of selling myself as a brand was again a new idea for me that I had to discover. And I was fortunate, I have to say, to always find someone who would give me some recommendations, some advice, and help me learn. And again, maybe my curiosity and my love for psychology helped me a lot in connecting with people at different points in my life.
Zach: So, what does your day-to-day look like today?
Mai: Again, it's an atypical role. It all depends on the project and the fun part of it, it's like starting a new job; every project has new job descriptions and new roles. But it means lots of meetings and cross-functional teams. I connect with designers, I connect with software engineers, and I do market research, sales, and pricing. And again, for a consulting firm, pricing is a big deal. So, I'm included in those discussions as well. And as a product manager, I know it might not be a specific role, but I find it quite important because our style of work is Team Pulse. I always make sure that the team that I'm part of gets regular check-ins, what's going well and what's not. How’s my style of work working for you? We conduct retros and see how we can improve because, in the end, it serves to improve the output of the product delivery and the outcome for our clients and users.
Lora: I know that since we started, we've been using a Product Management methodology, I think, in terms of developing educational products. So that's education. And I know Product Management was really born out of tech, but that's my understanding. But do you have a perspective? I know you connect with a lot of other product managers and all the industries and companies that might be using Product Management. My perspective is that it's expanded, but maybe you could speak a little bit to that.
Mai: Yeah, definitely. And from my current experience, I've even expanded my work as a product manager outside of the tech industry. And that brings me back to the idea of solving problems. Sometimes all you need to do is address it on an institutional level, on an enterprise level, and a product manager solves a specific problem for this enterprise. Maybe it's simply streamlining their process, right? And how can you integrate people, processes, and digital tunes together? So yes, you go through tech touchpoints, but you're addressing the end-to-end service as a product. And I've grown to actually like this process a lot because you're not focused on one specific aspect of a client's life cycle, which is the tech. But you are actually touching on the human factor, and you try to implement human-centric design while solving for those problems as well. So, my style of work and specific projects I've been part of have touched upon products outside of the tech world, in many cases, healthcare to be specific, which is close to my heart. But I know that it happened also on human capital management, on automotive industries, on telecom. It can go beyond tech, for sure.
Zach: Do you feel Product Management is more art or science?
Mai: Oh, that's a good one. At first, I was so hungry to learn so many frameworks just to be a good product manager because I thought the more structure I had, the better I'd perform at my job. But as you gain experience, I have to say yes, it's an art and getting stuck in those frameworks can impede you from working towards that. And again, there are lots of those soft skills that we underestimated when we looked at job descriptions: communication skills, stakeholder management, managing up, there is an art to that as well.
Zach: When you look at your career and your career arc, what are the different pathways you think you could go into as a product manager? Both in different areas to work in, but what is the path forward once you become a PM as well?
Mai: There are lots of opportunities for product managers, and it’s related to their skillset. I always describe it as being a chameleon as you’re trying to do whatever to empower your team and deliver a product. But you can specialize in Product Management. You can go into core or growth, depending on the company's size as well. You might be the only product manager there, so you grow into senior intermediate and senior Product Management. But sometimes you can define your speciality into the type of tech that you're assigned to in that specific company. In my role in management consulting, it's a little bit different because my role as a product manager is also linked to managing people. So, you are expected to lead a team. You're expected to be managing people other than only managing the product. So that's a specific pathway that I enjoyed as I really enjoyed the idea of exploring different projects, like trying a job every once in a while. And for me specifically, I want to hone in on my brand in healthcare and being a niche brand for healthcare Product Management and digital health enterprise transformation. So that's a growth goal for my own self, and I think I'm in the right spot to do that with all the trends that are happening now in healthcare and AI.
Zach: Quick follow-up, what's the difference between the core and growth?
Mai: As a core product manager, you are responsible for the core, or the heart of the product. It doesn't need to be related to accelerating its growth. For a more mature product, you would focus more on the features, and working on implementing new ones. It's how we might increase the audience for that product. How are we gaining new markets? So, it's a different projection, let's say, and a different stage of maturity for the company or the product that you're assigned as a product manager.
Zach: And how much time do you spend on the more strategic aspects—which markets we're approaching, what features we're building, what outcomes we're looking for, the direction of your product, the thinking ahead—versus how much time are you spending in the day-to-day, working with the team and the development to ship that next feature or that next release?
Mai: It depends on the project I'm part of. Sometimes my whole project is only about strategy from start to finish, it's about implementing a strategy and aligning on a vision. Sometimes it's more of a discovery, starting with strategy, creating a roadmap, and assessing what they have currently and how they can move forward. But I think it's quite a tough point because I've experienced it looking at different job calls and descriptions for product managers. And you'd find a huge overlap where a product manager finds a job description for a project manager or a product owner with less strategic insight. And if it's a smaller company, you'll find that whoever is leading the strategy might end up being the CEO, while the product manager is simply implementing the CEO's vision. So, I think it's quite important what's happening currently with all the certifications and programs. SAIT’s Product Management program was one of them, and I was lucky to be one of the early cohorts. It set in my mind what action Product Management was and how it was different, which was a learning point for myself. I've been in many situations where it was only about implementation with little if any strategy, vision, or roadmap. And it's crucial for even a product manager's growth. Have you received this in your feedback a lot? You're not strategic enough. You don't have a vision, but you didn't get the experience or the opportunity to try it out. So, I think it's a point to be observed when looking for different job positions in that specific area. But for myself, it definitely depends on the type of project I'm part of, and I've been fortunate again to be part of strategic direction and discovery work that entails strategy and visioning for the client.
Lora: Mai, it might be helpful for our users to really define what a product actually is. My perception is that it's not necessarily a physical, tangible kind of thing, it's broader than that.
Mai: Yeah. So, a product can be as simple as a software application platform with a single feature. If it's a big company, you can be the product manager of a single feature, and that will be your responsibility. It can be a hardware product, or it can focus on my types of projects as well. A whole enterprise or institution that has lots of departments. Each one of them you can link as a feature if we're comparing it to the tech world. So that's a different type of product. So, it really varies, and I'm actually appreciative of the fact that Product Management and product extended beyond the idea of a software product.
Lora: Absolutely, and a lot of the questions that we get from students or people who are considering going into Product Management are, "What's the difference between Product Management and project management?”
Mai: Yeah, definitely. I always start with Product Management as the why. And project management is the how and when. I disagree a little bit because I found from my work experience that the product manager also touches the how many times. And we work closely with product owners and project managers on just the implementation plan itself, like an oversight from product to ensure a good outcome. They're different, but their skillsets overlap when it comes to job descriptions. But they’re distinct and they each add value to the product lifecycle.
Lora: Yeah, absolutely. So, in your opinion, given that and how broad and encompassing it could be, what makes for an ideal product manager? What kind of skills would you encourage someone to embrace if they were thinking about going down this path?
Mai: To start with skill sets, you have to be a good communicator, and that was a learning experience for me as well. English is not my first language, but I thought I was pretty good until I started Product Management. I realized that I have to clearly articulate and communicate the outcome strategy of my work, so communication skills for sure. Stakeholder management, and that's an experience you can grasp beyond Product Management. So, if Product Management as a role is difficult for anyone because of experience and whatnot, try to get yourself into jobs that include working with cross-functional teams to enhance your communication skills, like working with marketing and sales to ensure customer success. These are all cross-functional working teams that will give you those foundational skills and experiences to pivot into Product Management later on. Other than that, it's working on our own self-learning. Always be curious. Trends are going fast, and we have to catch up to them. So, keeping up with the trends and maintaining that base learning ability is, I think, quite favourable in my experience.
Lora: Yeah, a hundred percent. One of the things that we've really had to foster as a skill set is this idea of feedback as a gift. And sometimes we get feedback, and it might feel negative, but it's really an opportunity to improve. And I think that's something that we've really embraced as a bit of a culture: how do we take feedback and use that to actually create opportunity versus looking at it like it's a negative conversation?
Mai: 100%. And that was one of the teachings during SAIT’s Product Management program. Shout out to Renee and Krista because they were telling us about how to receive feedback and not take it personally because that's the core of the work, even among peers. So, it was a good learning experience because, on my end, I felt it took training to distance myself from this feedback. It's not about you. What is the objective of this feedback? Focus on the outcome and ask yourself where this feedback is coming from. And this brings us back to a core skill and a core trait, which is empathy and trying to understand where the other person is coming from.
Zach: We have some of our audience here that might be thinking about getting into Product Management; what would be your advice to them for getting started and being able to go through the journey to eventually landing a job in Product Management?
Mai: Yeah, definitely start with gaining the Product Management foundational knowledge. That's quite available now. There are lots of online courses where they talk about Product Management. Complement this with a good certification. Structuring that work, I would definitely recommend the SAIT’s Applied Product Management program because it wasn't only about the theory for me; I wanted to see it in real-time. And I feel this is a common pain point for lots of people trying to pivot into Product Management. They want to see this in action, being paired with a real-life client and a Product Management scenario and being paired with another cross-functional team gave me that chance. So, I would definitely recommend that pathway. Online courses, certificates, and connections. I know it's been said many times: networking, networking, networking. It’s easier said than done but building a meaningful network and relationship between people, going back to the community, would help a lot in laying the foundation for where you want to go. Is Product Management the right pathway for you or is it just something you heard about? Discovering more about what's going on with you—what are your strengths, what are your weaknesses? And again, back to my point, if you're getting into those roles that don't necessarily say Product Management right away, look at the job description. What does it entail? Does it give you cross-functional team experience? Does it give you a view of what users are saying? For myself, I started volunteering for market research, and it was my only pathway to realizing that I actually enjoyed this. I enjoyed hearing what customers wanted to say—what are they liking in a product? What are they hating? Driving data insights out of this. That brings me to my final point. You have to train yourself to be data-centric. You have to follow the data. You have to understand and interpret it in an unbiased way.
Zach: Yeah, I find in our community, or when we're talking to aspiring product managers, they're looking for that work experience. And sometimes it's a trap to say, I don't have a development team to work with. But really, the product work has a lot more to do with understanding. An industry, a problem, those customers doing that research, interviewing them, and then trying to build solutions in an iterative way that provide some value. So, I just want to like echo what Mai said. For those that are listening, I did spend a couple years in Product Management, but those are days past. I want to ask a bonus question, a similar question, but just based on your experience, so a little less focused on Product Management. For those that are listening who are new to Canada, what advice would you give them as they're trying to explore how to navigate the Canadian workplace and our culture around finding meaningful employment in Canada as a newcomer?
Mai: Yeah, that's a great question, Zach. And it comes from personal experience and feelings that I've gone through throughout my journey in Canada, outside of Canada, and back. I know the frustrations, and I would appreciate -- and would've appreciated -- if someone back then would acknowledge that this is normal because at one stage you feel like a failure. What went wrong? I'm not good enough. And you're getting haunted by those multiple feelings that actually impede you from making any progress; you give up and you just don't want to. In my case, I just left Canada and thought there was no way back for me. And the only thing that drove me back were my kids. So, acknowledging that it's okay is easier said than done. It requires patience, because sometimes newcomers don't have the luxury of patience. They need to start up, they need to make money, and they need to set up lives. So, all I can say to them is to reach out. I know that sometimes it might sound unnatural that you reach out to someone because you actually end up wanting a job. But try to connect with those communities that have lots of newcomers and are offering more than simply landing you a job. It offers you a support system and try to overcome those innate feelings of I'm not good enough. You are good enough. It's simply that you're trying to maneuver a new system. I also have to acknowledge the fact that the tech ecosystem has been quite forgiving if I compare it to the medical system. My experiences in the tech world have actually been quite appreciated and looked upon as a strength rather than, "Oh, you need to have equivalence. You don't have the appropriate credentials. You're not even a doctor here.” I do advise fellow newcomers to be strong in reaching out, seeking out, reaching for meaningful communities where they can actually support you, because that was my case.
Zach: What do you say to those who are employers? What would you tell them to think about if they were listening to this podcast today when they were meeting or interviewing newcomers? We do want to share anything from your perspective that you would like them to know.
Mai: I actually empathize with them. I know what position they're coming from. The idea of someone I know getting the job, someone with relatable experiences getting the job, rather than unknown locations and unknown certifications. I know that this takes away from their perspective a bit of the trust and credibility. I would say the idea of giving a chance through more open job fairs and more open job interviews, the idea of the ATS system will kick away any foreign credential. In LinkedIn, once I changed my location, I started receiving offers. So sometimes I know time is not always in that favour, but to give a chance rather than simply focusing on, "Oh, these are foreign credentials that won't work.” But I think it's not; it's beyond advice, Zach. I think it needs more community support to push this for it, for the action to work. Because other than that, we'll only be lecturing, but we know the reality. Even from the employer's side, it can be difficult. Even if they were immigrants themselves, they know it's going to be a struggle to hire someone when they know nothing about their background or experience. Ideally, I would say a mentorship period or a training period to show skillsets. But yeah, I know it needs more than those words. It needs implementation and community support.
Lora: Yeah, absolutely. Mai, last time we talked, we asked you a little bit about your journey in lifelong learning, your approach to learning, and I was hoping that you would share a little bit of that. I thought it was so neat to see how, being busy with a job and kids, and I can certainly appreciate that, how do you keep up to date on everything?
Mai: No, that's definitely a struggle, and it was a trial-and-error pace for me. So, I was privileged to be in lockdown and covid to have enough time to do online courses. But when I moved to Canada, starting a new life, I’m a single mom with two children, I realize that I don't time anymore and add to that full-time job. In consulting, everyone knows how demanding a job that is. I've felt that I'll fall short of my learning. So, I've tried to incorporate technology into the way I continue learning. Podcasts have become my best friend. I take podcasts with me everywhere. It was a learning experience as well, because since I'm a visual person, at first, I would listen to a podcast and realize I could not capture enough information, but it was a work in progress. And now podcasts are definitely my go-to before sleep time, time in the kitchen, driving the kids to chores or schools here and there. Another thing I use is Flipboard, it's a magazine that you sign up for different topics that you want to be in the know of and this is my bathroom time, let's say. I take that and follow Tuesday tech trends. That's always my go-to, Flipboard Tuesday Tech Trends. Substack is another favourite of mine when I have time for my eyes to read, but there is an audio version of that as well, which has worked quite well for me. I just follow my favourite Substackers. Some of them are peers at my workplace, and they talk about everything. Healthcare, Product Management, what's new in AI, what's new in life, and how to handle Canadian tax because, come on, I need to learn about that as well. Yeah, that's my lifelong journey. Complementing things that go beyond the commitment of taking a course or dedicating that time away from family and work has worked well so far.
Lora: Awesome. Zach, unless you have another question, I know where I'd like to end things, and it's something I hear about a lot from people who are pivoting or maybe coming from another market to Alberta, and that's this idea of imposter syndrome with it, which is a big thing to unpack. But I know last time we talked to you, you talked a little bit about confidence hiccups, we’re chatting now and I just think: how is that even possible? You're so confident and well-spoken, and you have so much knowledge and depth on a number of different topics. But I think for a lot of us, it's something where you've transitioned to a new role or want to transition into a new role, can you just talk a little bit about how did you build confidence? And what was that like for you?
Mai: Confidence came the hard way. It came with practice, which started with sloppy interviews because I was not confident enough to take this into my own hands. I would go to, for example, in SAIT’s Applied Product Management program, I would go to Krista and tell her I have an interview and say “I need to do a dry run. Can you hear me?” And that was quite supportive, especially in those early days when you know the right things to say. It's simply you preventing yourself from showing who you truly are as a capable person, a skilled person, and an experienced person. And this helped a lot. So, I would recommend, before interviews, having a dry run with a work friend who's honest as a mentor, who would give you this straightforward feedback on what you should fix. I've tried the mirror and the recording, but I would advise another person for it to work smoothly. I think my confidence was regained when I started getting to stages two and three of interviews. That’s where I realized I'm not bad, right? I'm not that bad. I'm good. But it took some time, and I'm not always like that. Sometimes I have some doubts about my capabilities, but it's a daily struggle, I have to say. That you have to work this within yourself first before it's reflected to the outside. But if it's a support system, definitely have dry runs. Keep talking through this. Sometimes I just jot down notes on what could possibly go wrong. And I follow this with a framework, and it's what happened if everything doesn't go my way, and everyone realizes that I'm not good enough. So how would that go? And I follow this note and it ends up not that bad. It's just all in my head.
Lora: That's great advice. Thank you so much for today.
Zach: Yeah, thank you. Thank you very much, Mai. Thank you.
Mai: Thank you. That was fun.
Lora: I really enjoyed the conversation with Mai on so many different levels. I feel like she has a great perspective on the Product Management role. I think she's got a great perspective on newcomers coming to Canada and to Calgary, and she's just a lovely person to talk to.
Zach: Yeah, agreed. I hope everyone enjoyed it. I know she is a wealth of information, and the resources that we have below are near and dear to my heart.
Lora: When we started looking at Product Management two or three years ago, we pulled together a bunch of industry people and wanted to talk about project management, but all they wanted to talk about was Product Management, which is how it really flagged for us as an education institute that this is something we should start looking at. What we've seen over the last few years is that it's really expanded and been embraced by Alberta and Calgary organizations. And it's not only a role, but we're seeing that it's also a bit of a mindset in terms of the approach to things, and I'm sure you've probably seen that as well. Just the skills that you have as a product manager can be applied in a number of different areas.
Zach: Yeah, I agree. In most companies, the CEO is the de facto product manager. And then they held that for a long time, and a lot of Alberta technology companies had the product role split between leadership, engineering, and design. And I think more and more people are realizing the importance of having someone that is really focused on the customer, bringing people together, bringing stakeholders together, and making sure they're honouring the outcomes that they're looking to deliver with their customers instead of just shipping product.
Lora: 100%. So, I think when we were investigating, we ran across a number of groups, Product YYC being one of them. Of course, we've got our great partners, Tacit Edge, who are great champions for Product Management. And there are several other groups, even within CITI, that are also supporting product managers. And I think for anybody that wants to get into the role, there are a lot of different resources in the province to be able to explore more and really understand what it is and whether it's the right fit.
Zach: Yeah. For me, when I did my transition to Product YYC, it was a really important resource for me. I think there's a strong product community in Alberta. They all want to help each other, and there have been a lot of great leaders who have pushed that forward. I'd like to see that in other areas of technology as well. There are a lot of people who want to help. It's great. Renee and Krista, the work that they're doing with SAIT through Tacit Edge, I think, is just a really great place. When I pivoted myself into Product Management, that wasn't a resource that was available, and you can see that was foundational to Mai’s experience, and I think the role is going to be ever-expanding. Yes, it's a difficult role to get into sometimes right away. Having some sort of industry expertise or domain expertise like Mai did with healthcare can be helpful. But companies in Alberta are starting to get large enough that there are now junior Product Management roles as well. And there are other career paths into Product Management, like Mai mentioned, by doing things similar to Product Management, like the marketing work she did in order to find a pathway eventually to Product Management.
Lora: And we're seeing more CPO-level positions cropping up within Alberta as well, which means it's becoming more of a strategic function within the ecosystem as well.
Zach: Yeah, totally.
Lora: So, for our listeners, we'll post resources on the website. Please check them out and take advantage of them because there's a great community to support you if you decide to go that path. Thanks for listening.
ANNCR: The Best Careers You Never Knew Existed Podcast sparked by SAIT and CITI, funded by the government of Alberta. Have a career suggestion or want to appear as a guest? Get in touch at sait.ca/careers/podcast. Rate and review this podcast, and you might find your review on a future episode. Please subscribe to The Best Careers You Never Knew Existed wherever fine podcasts are downloaded. With Lora Bucsis, and Zach Novak, produced by Terran Anthony Allen, and Jenna Smith. Executive produced by Lora Bucsis, voiceover by me. All right. Special thanks to SAIT Radio for their support and the use of their studios, and most of all, thank you for listening.
Applied Product Management
SAIT’s Continuing Education and Professional Studies offers hands-on, immersive courses to infuse your career with technology.
Product management is a rapidly growing field, and is essential in a highly competitive, customer-centric economy — now is the perfect time to upskill or discover new career opportunities with the Applied Product Management bootcamp.
SAIT’s unique 12-week part-time Applied Product Management Bootcamp program is designed to evolve your skills and meet the growing demand for product managers in Alberta’s emerging technology-driven economy. Graduates of the program will come away with an understanding of how to use product management practices to be the bridge between the customer, business, and technology — becoming a product management leader.
If you have questions about this course or would like more information, please contact ConEdadvising@sait.ca.