In March, I started working at WSC Sports as a product manager even though my background is a software engineer. So how did I end up as a product manager? Well, a year before joining WSC, when the COVID19 crisis forced us to work from home, I decided I wanted to make a career change. I’d been thinking hard about making a change for a while, but the pandemic provided a rare opportunity to actually make it happen. Many software engineers actually become product managers later in their career, but it was a little different for me as I made the transition at a relatively early stage in my career and in a new company. Here’s my story of why I decided to make this transition and why WSC Sports was the perfect move for me.
I got my first job as a software engineer for a large corporation while studying at Haifa’s Technion. However, after a while the job became monotonous and I found myself drawn to the business and product side of the company. During this time, I was also the spokesperson for the student association, where I learned management skills and knew that I wanted to become a manager. So I decided that the best thing for me was to join a smaller startup.
Then, just a year into that new job, the pandemic hit and it was while working from home that I realized it was the right time to act on my plan of becoming a product manager. I was recommended for the position at WSC Sports and spoiler alert…I got the job!.
What is the most significant difference between a software engineer and a product manager?
As a software engineer, your work is very linear. Your team leader’s purpose is to help you focus on one main issue at a time. You work with your development team and parallel teams.
As a product manager, you work on several responsibilities at a time, and often you find yourself juggling between different tasks while working with other departments. As a developer, your challenge is deep thinking on one aspect. At the same time, as a product manager, you have a much broader challenge, and you need to try and solve problems from the engineering aspect and the bizdev and account managers aspects.
Why look for a new company instead of advancing in the current one?
I think there is a certain advantage of moving from a developer position to a product manager position. It allows you to understand the engineering side better and know the limitations and abilities of the product.
On the other hand, as a product manager, knowing the business side of WSC Sports is critical. You need to be very knowledgeable and also find it interesting. So when the offer came from a company that deals with sports, it gave me a golden opportunity to intertwine two fields that interest me and combine my hobby and my work – and I find that amazing.
What is it like to be a junior product manager?
The industry nowadays barely has positions for a junior product manager. To get this job, you usually move up within your company or get accepted to a large (typically American) corporation’s training program.
I got a wonderful opportunity to join WSC Sports as a junior product manager and it’s had a significant impact on my way of thinking as a product manager. But beyond learning a new profession, I am also learning, like any new employee, about WSC Sports and need to understand its business and products. I was lucky to get into big and broad projects right from the start, allowing me to touch a wide range of areas in WSC Sports and get to know many people – all of which made my initiation easier.
What is the working environment at WSC Sports like?
WSC Sports is not a small company by any means as there are over 200 employees. Yet, it has the feeling of a small startup and that really appealed to me. The CEO, Daniel Shichman, is in the office everyday and says, “good morning” to everyone. Everyone here is very kind and energetic, it’s a special environment to work in.
What’s the advantage for a product manager of being a former software engineer?
The advantage is that understanding how developers work, and their thinking, helps you have a stronger connection to the products themselves when you’re a product manager. But of course the abilities you need to be a good product manager don’t necessarily have to include engineering skills.
What advice do you have to others who may be looking to make a similar transition?
I think first you should research the jobs that junior product managers are needed in. Of course check the option of advancing in the company you are currently at. But since searching might take time, you can start learning at the same time, look for courses on websites like Udemy, and search for more information on different Facebook groups and podcasts.
I also recommend reaching out to people who made this transition, like me. Ask questions about anything you find interesting, you’ll be surprised to find some lovely people who will be happy to share and help you on your journey.
Click here to learn more and apply for Product Manager positions at WSC Sports.