Tell me what my job is, in another industry
February 8, 2014 8:07 PM   Subscribe

I have transitioned into a slightly unusual role at my job, and want to know whether it exists outside my current industry, and what it is called.

I work in the entertainment industry, in a creative but semi-technical role. I come from a creative background, but picked up some technical skills along the way and enjoy them very much. I am also a pretty good communicator (but I'm not a sales type personality or anything). I used to work in a mid-level creative role where my technical skills shined and I was able to help projects by being the reliable fixer, who could solve problems that less-technically inclined creatives needed help with. I have been here a long time, and over time have become more and more interested in the workflow, tools and processes we use.

I managed to carve out my own role here where my responsibility is to find ways to refine and improve the workflow that our creative department uses. I know most of our tools inside-out, and understand how to use them best, which allows me to suggest changes and improvements to the creative workflow; request new tools from the engineering department; work with engineering on the design of new systems that creatives will use; write up documentation for creatives; test new tools before they are rolled out; give presentations on new tools and systems; and so on. Knowing the tools well is my biggest asset, but that comes from having used them extensively, and having the mindset where I will creatively find a way to make them do something they weren't originally intended for, in order to solve thorny problems at the last minute before projects finish. I am experienced enough at my old role that I often have good insight, and can predict when choices we make now will negatively or positively affect us further down the line.

I love my job, but I am concerned about the future. Since I am now technically a support person rather than a content creator, that makes me less essential. Also, I am very tired of the extended hours that are often required (standard everywhere in this industry). I would like to know if an equivalent of my job exists in other industries, and what it is called. That way I can look into transitioning to another industry if it seems like a good long-term move.

(Anon because I have friends and co-workers who read MeFi and know who I am. I don't wish to share my career doubts with them, I'm being vague about industry because I would be easy to identify otherwise)
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
If you find it reasonable to think of the creatives as the customers consuming the systems that you ask engineering to build, then in software development there exists a position like that called product manager, product champion, program manager, and probably other names.

I've seen folks in those roles supply requirements to development teams, produce documentation, interface with customers, track what features are needed, analyze business processes to identify gaps, perform marketing research, validate that new features or product rollouts meet requirements, give product demos, and so on.

It's a weird niche that can cover lots of different things depending on the organization, the product, and more, but having some domain knowledge, like you have based on your previous experience, usually helps.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 8:21 PM on February 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

Welcome to the wonderful world of Operations. It's almost always something you fall into, but eventually people realize they need someone like you and there you are.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:34 PM on February 8, 2014 [2 favorites]

Business process management
posted by candyland at 8:38 PM on February 8, 2014

Creative process manager.
posted by Miko at 8:50 PM on February 8, 2014

And yes, to your other question, it exists outside your industry. I work in a large art museum and we have a well-paid consultatant who does this for us - takes on projects to analyze and improve our process flow, smooth our personality conflicts by creating clear structures and workflows, solve problems, deal with big intimidating projects and massive changes in the operating environment, etc.
posted by Miko at 8:55 PM on February 8, 2014

Your "support" role could be one step down from management; of course I don't know the details of your industry, but it sounds like you could possibly transition to something like "creative director" or some kind of art director. Just in case this makes you feel more assured about your future :)
posted by amtho at 9:18 PM on February 8, 2014

Change the word "creatives" to "faculty" and you have a pretty good description of what an [educational/academic/instructional/learning] technologist does. At our best, edtech-ers combine a breadth and depth of technical knowledge, an interest in education, and good communication skills to partner with faculty on creative work, teaching, and scholarship. Feel free to memail me if you have questions.
posted by zebra at 9:27 PM on February 8, 2014

Maybe business analyst? (No personal knowledge or experience of the role, just a guess.) (Another description here)
posted by cotton dress sock at 12:14 AM on February 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Yep, I'm a business analyst and that might get you pointed in the right direction though BAs can be responsible for a wide variety of tasks.

I gained enough knowledge working on the front-facing side of our business (where I also got pulled into working occasionally with developers to help them understand business needs) that I was able to transition into this role, where I mostly act as a go-between to translate the needs of the business into something that our developers and IT team can use to meet those requests.

It takes a lot of specialized knowledge and creativity but I find it pretty fulfilling. Having also sort of fallen into the role myself the hardest part has been getting up-to-speed on industry and company standards for documentation--YMMV.
posted by miratime at 6:09 AM on February 9, 2014

Lean Six Sigma.
posted by auntie maim at 7:09 AM on February 9, 2014

Sounds like Production Manager or Program Manager
posted by colin_l at 7:16 AM on February 9, 2014

Industrial Engineer
posted by klarck at 9:23 AM on February 9, 2014

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