Transitioning from Engineering ->
Product Management
Gayle Laakmann McDowell
My Background
• Engineer @ Google, Microsoft & Apple
– 3 Years on Google Hiring Committee
– Interviewed 150+ candidates
• ...
slides
Technologywoman.com
-> Speaking engagements
-> ctrl-F for “master”
McDowell | CareerCup.com
What PM jobs are open to you?
Product Manager (“PM”)
==
“Associate Product Manager”
(Google, Yahoo, Facebook, etc.)
==
“Pr...
The Perfect PM
Technical Skills + Product Skills
+
Industry Expertise + Business Expertise
McDowell | CareerCup.com
New PM...
Smart Gets Things Done
Strategy &
Vision
Leadership
Customer
Focus
Product
Design
Analysis &
Synthesis
Action
Oriented
Pri...
Strategy &
Vision
Leadership
Customer
Focus
Product
Design
Analysis &
Synthesis
Action
Oriented
Prioritization
Project
Man...
Acquiring Skills
• At your company?
– Help out a PM
• Outside of work?
– Design your own app
• Formal education
– Coursera...
Should you get an MBA?
• VERY mixed opinions in SV
• Gives you “business” knowledge
– Marketing, accounting, pricing, etc....
Getting the Opportunity
McDowell | CareerCup.com
A PM-Focused Resume
• That cool algorithm isn’t that useful
• Focus on:
– Leadership
– Design
– Initiative
• ACCOMPLISHMEN...
Landing the Opportunity
• Hard to jump companies & roles
• Leverage your expertise
– Dev tools PM?
– Got industry expertis...
The Interview
McDowell | CareerCup.com
What to Expect in the Interview
• Behavioral Questions
• Product Design
• Estimation Questions
• Business Questions
• Tech...
So, tell me about
yourself…
McDowell | CareerCup.com
Your Two-Minute Pitch
• I am a … at …
• In college, I studied …
• Then I worked for …
• Then …
• Now I’m …
• Outside of wo...
Preparing for Behavioral Qs
McDowell | CareerCup.com
Job 1 Job 2
Leadership/Influence
Mistakes/Failures
Challenges
Success...
Structure 1: Nugget First
• Lead with your “thesis” / nugget
– Grabs the listener’s attention
– Gives them context for whe...
Structure 2: S.A.R.
ituation
ction
esult
McDowell | CareerCup.com
S
A
R
What was the issue?
What did you do about it?
What...
Product Design Questions
How would you design an
calculator for the blind?
Design an elevator for a building.
Pick a Googl...
Product Design Questions: Why?
• Communication & Structured Thinking
• Ability to understand the user
• Creativity
• Busin...
Product Design Qs: Approach
1. Ask questions to resolve ambiguity
2. Understand the user & use cases.
3. Structure the pro...
What to Expect in the Interview
• Behavioral Questions
• Product Design
• Estimation Questions
• Business Questions
• Tech...
McDowell | CareerCup.com
Follow Me Online:
Facebook.com/Gayle
Twitter.com/Gayle
Quora.com
TechnologyWoman.com
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Transitioning from Engineering to Product Management

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How do you transition to product management from engineering? What skills do you need and how do you get them? How do you crack the interview?

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Transitioning from Engineering to Product Management

  1. 1. Transitioning from Engineering -> Product Management Gayle Laakmann McDowell
  2. 2. My Background • Engineer @ Google, Microsoft & Apple – 3 Years on Google Hiring Committee – Interviewed 150+ candidates • Founder of CareerCup.com • Author – Cracking the Coding Interview – The Google Resume – Cracking the PM Interview [Product Management] • Interview coach for acquisitions & acquihires McDowell | CareerCup.com
  3. 3. slides Technologywoman.com -> Speaking engagements -> ctrl-F for “master” McDowell | CareerCup.com
  4. 4. What PM jobs are open to you? Product Manager (“PM”) == “Associate Product Manager” (Google, Yahoo, Facebook, etc.) == “Program Manager” (Microsoft) McDowell | CareerCup.com
  5. 5. The Perfect PM Technical Skills + Product Skills + Industry Expertise + Business Expertise McDowell | CareerCup.com New PMs have some but not ALL of these skills.
  6. 6. Smart Gets Things Done Strategy & Vision Leadership Customer Focus Product Design Analysis & Synthesis Action Oriented Prioritization Project Management Technical Skills Communication
  7. 7. Strategy & Vision Leadership Customer Focus Product Design Analysis & Synthesis Action Oriented Prioritization Project Management Technical Skills Communication ENGINEER
  8. 8. Acquiring Skills • At your company? – Help out a PM • Outside of work? – Design your own app • Formal education – Coursera, General Assembly – Books • Show initiative, leadership, & design McDowell | CareerCup.com
  9. 9. Should you get an MBA? • VERY mixed opinions in SV • Gives you “business” knowledge – Marketing, accounting, pricing, etc. • Effective way to career hop – … at the top schools & local schools • But it’s a very expensive way to do that… McDowell | CareerCup.com
  10. 10. Getting the Opportunity McDowell | CareerCup.com
  11. 11. A PM-Focused Resume • That cool algorithm isn’t that useful • Focus on: – Leadership – Design – Initiative • ACCOMPLISHMENTS McDowell | CareerCup.com
  12. 12. Landing the Opportunity • Hard to jump companies & roles • Leverage your expertise – Dev tools PM? – Got industry expertise? • Blog & be active online • Network, network, network McDowell | CareerCup.com
  13. 13. The Interview McDowell | CareerCup.com
  14. 14. What to Expect in the Interview • Behavioral Questions • Product Design • Estimation Questions • Business Questions • Technical Questions McDowell | CareerCup.com • Gets things done • Problem Solving • Communication • User-Focused Thinking • Relevant Skills
  15. 15. So, tell me about yourself… McDowell | CareerCup.com
  16. 16. Your Two-Minute Pitch • I am a … at … • In college, I studied … • Then I worked for … • Then … • Now I’m … • Outside of work, I … McDowell | CareerCup.com • Sprinkle in highlights • Show the WHY • Connect yourself
  17. 17. Preparing for Behavioral Qs McDowell | CareerCup.com Job 1 Job 2 Leadership/Influence Mistakes/Failures Challenges Successes Teamwork  Select 5 Key Stories. What do they say about you?
  18. 18. Structure 1: Nugget First • Lead with your “thesis” / nugget – Grabs the listener’s attention – Gives them context for where you’re going. McDowell | CareerCup.com A: I’m most proud of my leading my company’s pivot. Last year, … Q: What accomplishment are you most proud of?
  19. 19. Structure 2: S.A.R. ituation ction esult McDowell | CareerCup.com S A R What was the issue? What did you do about it? What was the impact?
  20. 20. Product Design Questions How would you design an calculator for the blind? Design an elevator for a building. Pick a Google product. How would you improve it?
  21. 21. Product Design Questions: Why? • Communication & Structured Thinking • Ability to understand the user • Creativity • Business instincts / skills
  22. 22. Product Design Qs: Approach 1. Ask questions to resolve ambiguity 2. Understand the user & use cases. 3. Structure the problem 4. Solve piece by piece Put the user first.
  23. 23. What to Expect in the Interview • Behavioral Questions • Product Design • Estimation Questions • Business Questions • Technical Questions McDowell | CareerCup.com • Gets things done • Problem Solving • Communication • User-Focused Thinking • Relevant Skills
  24. 24. McDowell | CareerCup.com Follow Me Online: Facebook.com/Gayle Twitter.com/Gayle Quora.com TechnologyWoman.com
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