I thought it was fitting to make my first blog about how I started working with products. Every journey starts somewhere and if you found your way to The Product Academy because you are at the start of your own product adventure, it might help you to know where mine started.
Prior to taking on my first role in products, I had already had quite an adventure on the career front. A truly disastrous first attempt at uni led to a one-week temp job, that turned into a 10-month long role which both funded and inspired my second attempt at university. I was lucky enough to be able to return to that first job every summer and, when I finally finished, it coincided with my line manager going on maternity leave and I was offered a contract to cover her absence.
I started as an admin assistant and by way of networking planning (engineering) assistant, information analyst and project controller roles, in 2006 I found myself applying for a job as a Device Delivery Manager.
Something to do with supply chain probably. At least that’s what I first thought – I didn’t really know myself but it was in London and it involved project management. It then became clear it was in Marketing not supply chain but, now with even less of a clue, I was confident or arrogant enough to think I could figure it out. I was desperate to get on a career path with long-term progression because, as much as my Birmingham teams felt like family, my future career options there were limited.
A week of firsts
I somehow convinced the Head of Device Delivery to take a chance on me. I turned up on my first day and sat down for our first meeting, where he said he was giving me blackberry and datacards and my first kick-off call was the next morning. I said something resembling “ok great” and that was that.
Now in 2018, I would expect at least one of the words “blackberry”, “datacards” and “kick-off call” will probably be familiar to you. But, this was 2006 and I wasn’t used to the exciting and exotic world of corporate mobile technology. Although I wasn’t sure what my new boss meant by “kick off call”, I was at least able to agree it was my first. Although, I think maybe we had different views on what we meant by that…
I logged into my laptop and asked Jeeves for some help – what is a blackberry and what is one expected to do on a kick off call. As you have probably already figured out, the blackberry turned out to be a BlackBerry and a datacard is what we had before wifi and hotspots. (2006 is pre-history when it comes to mobile technology!)
I don’t recall finding out a lot about a kick-off call. I can’t event remember how I found out how to actually be on the kick off call. But, once on it, I discovered I was “representing the UK”. I felt very important. And then valiantly represented the UK, by making agreeable noises and saying “I will confirm that” when asked anything, whilst furiously writing down everything anyone said and not having a clue what was happening.
It seemed that a “golden CD” was The Thing We Cared About. It took me a week to find out what glorious thing this golden CD was to be. It turned out to be final software for a datacard. So disappointing.
Why am I telling you this??
You may be horrified by this story and thinking why on earth would I come anywhere near you for product advice?? It’s a fair question!
The thing is, I did manage to figure it all out in the end. I established that I was responsible for bringing those new BlackBerry and Datacards – and then various other mobile phones and products – to market on time, with everything lined up to support them. Customer Service, Supply Chain, Marketing, Packaging, the lot. And I learned how to do it and to enjoy doing it.
It wasn’t luck, magic or some previously unknown hidden natural aptitude for product launches. It was because I was surrounded by people who helped me. Who were patient, knowledgeable and willing to share.
I am sincerely and deeply grateful to those generous people who shared their knowledge, insight and lessons learned with me – in that role and in every other. It opened the door to a new world, a new career and a new life.
By telling you about all of this, I hope to show you that if you are there now – wondering how on earth you will learn all the things you need to learn, to bring your product or business to life – I get what that feels like. And, more importantly, to reassure you that you WILL learn all the things you need to.
I set up The Product Academy to give you access to people who want to share their knowledge, insight and lessons learned to help you. To save you time and help you feel confident in every step you take. And I really want you to love the new world, career and life that is going to open up to you!
I would love to hear in the comments about your journey so far and where you are at right now?
If you would like to know more about how we can help you, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or fill in the contact form on the website and I can answer your questions or arrange a call to chat.
Looking forward to getting to know you,