How did you make your way into product management?
I studied chemical engineering in college and then spent the first two and a half years of my career working as a product design engineer, so I was involved in product development right out of college, working for Amway, the world’s largest direct sales company. I was doing a lot of research and design around residential air and water purifiers for Asia. While this role was fulfilling and challenged me as a professional, I knew I didn’t want to work as an engineer for the duration of my career and I really wanted to take on a broader set of responsibilities that were still related to product. That vision is what brought me to Booth.
Tell us more about your role
Since starting at Booth in the fall of 2017, I have changed roles numerous times, first within Amway and eventually externally. Within a few months into my time at Booth, I switched from engineering to a role that more closely resembles product management (PM), however, it’s worth noting this role was not in technology, which is where a lot of PM roles are focused today. Instead, in this role I was responsible for a portfolio of sports nutrition products. Amway acquired a company that produced energy drinks and they brought me on board with the focus to expand the portfolio outside energy drinks and introduce these products to some of our international markets.
In this role, my responsibilities were to understand changing consumer taste preferences and then with that data, identify different development partners and manufacturers so we could rapidly formulate different beverages and get them into the market. This started with energy drinks, and then expanded into ready-to-drink coffee, functional sparkling water, and even CBD. Sports nutrition consumer preferences are changing all the time, and it’s fascinating to figure out what ingredients people are willing to spend money on and to develop a strategy on how to launch the product quickly and profitably.
After this role in sports nutrition, I decided to venture beyond Amway in May 2020 when I accepted a consulting internship position at Kearney. With product still in mind, I worked on a summer project focused on relocating aerospace production facilities as part of a merger. After the internship I accepted an offer from McKinsey & Company, where I will likely continue to focus on strategies behind engineering and product development after I graduate in March 2021.
What courses would you recommend to someone interested in product management?
New Products and Services
I think this class would be particularly useful for individuals with no prior product background. The essence here is you can take a structured, analytical approach to help predict consumer behavior and demand around a product concept, and then you can dial in and develop said products or services targeted to a specific customer or segment. The class takes you through the journey of how you collect and analyze these data, and ultimately develop the product or service so you can address an unmet customer need.
I find this class encompasses a wide array of business topics and would prove useful in understanding how a product might scale with time, especially at a start-up or small company. The course is centered around venture capital and teaches you how to quantify the attractiveness of an idea. Product Managers face similar questions relating to attractiveness of future concepts on a regular basis. In this class, you’ll learn all sorts of tools to validate if you should expand your idea into different categories or if it’s a good idea to start a company with a particular product.