How I pivoted my career to become a Product Manager

Culture · May 28, 2021

How it started

I always knew I loved working in teams to drive us forward towards the same vision and reaching the same goal. I first joined TELUS Digital as a People Experience Specialist where I led new team member onboarding, community investments and events, managed the TELUS Digital blog (the blog you’re now reading) and social media accounts to drive brand awareness of the TELUS Digital employer brand. In this role, I was able to deepen my knowledge of digital marketing through the Digital Marketing Certificate at BrainStation. As I reflected on where I wanted to grow my career next, a casual conversation in the office kitchen opened up an opportunity for me to join the Home Solutions team as a Product Marketing Coordinator, where I drove quarterly marketing campaigns for customers to purchase home internet, TV, and home phone online. 

Through constant collaboration with product managers across the organization and attending ProductCamp Vancouver, I was even more inspired by product leaders in Vancouver and knew that was the next step for me in my career. With a conversion to full time employment with TELUS, I was promoted to a Product Manager of Go-To-Market. In that position, I got to put my knowledge of digital marketing to use and merge it with my product skill sets by delivering unique landing page experiences, offer merchandising on and offer enablement end to end through the commerce flow. The campaign launches are critical periods where customers are looking for the best deals for their home services, often during peak seasons through the year: Back to School, Black Friday Cyber Monday and Boxing Week, for example. In this role, I got the opportunity to deepen my understanding of product management through the Product Management Certification at BrainStation and completed the Certified Scrum Product Owner Certificate at Agile42

How it’s going

With the emergence and growth of three new business lines at TELUS, I pivoted to become the Product Manager for National Products. In this role, I work with a team of designers, content strategists, developers and QAs to support the growth and deepen the national brand awareness and sales of SmartHome Security, TELUS Online Security, and Consumer Health (products such as Babylon and LivingWell Companion) across Canada. The opportunity I am currently addressing is helping our customers better research and understand these new product offerings from TELUS in order to live a safe, secure, and connected life through TELUS services so that they feel confident enough to purchase these products and services online through - wherever they are in Canada! 

What makes me - and others- successful in the role of product manager comes full circle to the core TELUS Digital values I used to onboard new hires with:

  • Love collaboration and leading a team (Believe in spirited teamwork): a successful product launch can only be achieved through the deep collaboration with our marketing primes, product managers, and design and development teams. As a product manager, you are the unassumed leader guiding the pack to bring your product launches to life 

  • Being empathetic (passion for growth): Know who your customer is, understand their pain points, and create solutions to solve their problems

  • Team Pulse (Courage to innovate): Understanding your team’s skill sets and how they thrive in creativity and solutioning will be crucial in delivering the best customer experience possible

  • Be adaptable and embrace change (Embrace change and initiate opportunity): Customer needs and demands change constantly as the world tries to pivot to meet those demands, and meeting the customer where they are is vital to your success as a product manager. 

3 ways to get into product management:

  • Make a pivot: Get your foot in the door with a company that has a product team by starting in a role that can leverage your current skill sets

  • Apply directly: Understand the skill sets required per product manager role and showcasing your relevant experience and transferable skills to the role

  • Be your own boss: Start your own business and manage the launch of your own business or product and learn firsthand

My 3 leadership philosophies:

  • Lead by example: show the team you’re willing to put in the work and the team will follow; and build trust and respect in order to contribute towards achieving the same goal and product vision

  • Don’t be afraid to fail: learning from mistakes are just as important, if not more important, than learning from successful launches - share those learnings with confidence and pride!

  • Learn to love change: Only with change will you be able to truly grow in your career, and in your life - roll with it!

It’s important to note, all the skills, and knowledge, I mentioned as key to the product management role were interpersonal skills. I am a firm believer that technical skills can and will be developed on the job for any role and that these interpersonal skills are just some that will be key to your success as a product manager. There is a home for a diverse set of skills in product management.

Growing my career as a product manager at TELUS Digital has been such an eye-opening experience and I am inspired by my team every day. If you are interested in joining our team as a product manager or a product owner, check out our careers page here and be prepared to pivot with me at TELUS Digital.

Authored by:
An Asian person wearing a shirt and tie
Colin Li
Product Manager
Colin is passionate about creating personalized and contextual online experiences. When not building digital products, you can find him on a public tennis court training to be the next Grand Slam champion.

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