Changing Industries

Hello!

It's been a while!  I've recently changed jobs and have been enjoying my (brief) time off as well as the end of summer here in Boston.  The change made me thing of an interesting topic to come back to blogging on- the impact of changing industries when you're a product manager.

I think that being a product manager is about being able to see opportunities where other people haven't and then acting on implementing those opportunities.  I've gone from address verification to construction cost data and am now working in the web domain business.  While each transition has been a challenge, it has taught me that having an eye for opportunity is something that differentiates a good product manager from a great one.

The most difficult part of changing jobs and/or industries for me is that I don't immediately know everything.  I don't know about you, but I hate not knowing what's happening or what systems people use in their business - especially if you're part of it.  I have to keep reminding myself that it's only week 1, and the knowledge will come.

What are your thoughts on changing industries?  How many of you have moved from being a PM in one industry to being a PM in another?

Also, a fun post from The Cranky PM about getting an MBA

Stay tuned... more posts to come!  Anything you'd like to hear about?

6 comments:

  1. I too am recently in a new industry, but still in software. I've never found the transition particularly easy -in the beginning. There's a whole new language and how-to's to learn, never mind all the on boarding requirements :-). Long and short of it, it's normal. Stay focused, smile and laugh alot. Soon you'll be the master of this industry as well.

    Cheers!

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  2. Thanks for the feedback Karol! It's encouraging to know that I'm not the only one!

    Keep in touch!
    Cait

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  3. I have made the transition (twice now, but back to my love of instrumentation).

    I started life in hardware at a semiconductor capital equipment maker (product marketing manager for their CD-SEM's), was there for almost three years, launched a new generation of product, and pretty much saturated the market.

    Left to go to a more general purpose instrumentation company. Still hardware and software, but focused on industrial and research applications. Spent 6 years there, and really had a wide gamut across products, product lines, and even different business units.

    I was getting burned out on hardware, and wanted to try my hand at a pure SW play. Off to an enterprise communications software company. Learned the differences between HW/SW/FW and SW. Learned agile (scrum), and worked with some groovy people.

    Then after 2.5 years, an opportunity to work for a fabulous company back in the instrumentation space that I had been cultivating for about 5 years came a knockin', and I am there now.

    I firmly believe that a good product manager in tech can walk in anywhere, climb the learning curve, and be successful.

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  4. Your background is extensive! So many different, and exciting industries!

    I'm glad you mentioned the learning curve. Climbing the learning curve is where I tend to get frustrated - how did this work for you? I find that I get frustrated because I don't know everything as soon as I join an organization. It's encouraging to know that there are people who believe that good product managers can be successful when changing industries.

    As always, thank you for the comment!

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    1. As to the learning curve, I just dive in head first and grub around. I am also not afraid to ask for help. There are always "guru" level people around, and being humble and asking for help in understanding something is often a good ice breaker, and starts building the trust balance early.

      Of course, I have a degree in Physics, and love to read and get intimate with technology and technical topics. :-)

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    2. Asking for help has been a great way to get information, and it's been helping build relationships. I have a love for technology, and I'm working on becoming more educated in that space - and that's coming out in the work I'm doing.

      So far, so good. Really enjoying the new industry and the team I'm working with. The education is a big piece and I've been getting a lot of that!

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