Developing career direction
March 26, 2014 7:43 AM   Subscribe

Please help me figure out what direction my career could or should move in, based on my current job as Product Manager, my skills, and my strengths.

I currently work as a Product Manager for a smallish company, a wholesale tile importer/distributor. I’ve linked to my job description, in case that’s helpful. My main issue is this: I feel like I’ve gotten good, even great experience working here, but I feel like I could not transition into being a Product Manager or similar position at a larger company (my general goal is better pay and benefits). I feel like my skills and abilities are ‘overinflated’ at my current job, if that makes sense- like if I were to look for a new job, my actual skills might lie a few ‘levels’ lower than what my current job title projects. I’m not sure if this is common when transitioning from small companies where people are expected to be jacks-of-all-trades, to larger companies, but it seems like it’s a common issue.

I feel like I’m very good at my job and I have a lot of potential, but I’m not sure what skills to develop or courses to take to make myself a more appealing or competent candidate for this idealized better job. Maybe I’m not even putting my best skills to use as a Product Manager and I’m missing out on something I would enjoy and be great at.

Here are some of my best strengths:
- Making things easy to understand/taking in lots of info and making it easy for others to digest
- Finding problems with current processes, making plans to fix them, and executing the plan
- Organizing giant messes of data in useful, meaningful ways
- Keeping track of the many different stages of a process and which projects or products are in what stage and why
- Fantastic memory for products, technical specifications, and what product might be best for a given situation (example from current job, I have a working memory of 1200+ products, their model numbers and names, and all of their attributes (glaze color, water absorption, slip resistance, etc.)
- Copy editing/writing
- Accuracy (making all data match, all formulas work, all spelling correct, all formatting identical, etc)

Here are some of my weaknesses:
- Managing people (I currently manage a team, but I don’t think I’m great at it and I don’t necessarily enjoy it)
- Being overly critical (I have minimized this greatly now that I am a manager, but I have extremely high expectations for myself and have a hard time expecting less from others)
- Don’t have common job skills like working with real databases (SQL), project management training, Six Sigma, Salesforce (because I work for a smaller company, we use less common programs and can’t afford training)
- Have a tough time with traveling for business (fear of flying)

Things I have interest in or have considered:
-Project management
-Programming (no experience whatsoever, just interest)
-Copy editing/editing
-Consulting (process consulting?)

Other relevant info: Currently located in New Jersey, potentially willing to relocate, making around 53k/year salaried, not willing to forfeit work/life balance (prefer 45 hour work weeks or thereabouts).

Thanks in advance for any advice that people have to offer!
posted by rachaelfaith to Work & Money (3 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
It sounds like you have a lot of the skills to be really successful as a product manager, but that you might be ready for a new challenge.

If you're interested in developing professionally as a product manager, consider pursuing Pragmatic Marketing certification. Their framework for understanding product management as a discipline is practical and useful and it's one of the few certifications that are actually specific to product management.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 7:48 AM on March 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

You sound like a good candidate for Process Improvement Manager or similar.

Look into 6-sigma or Lean Manufacturing books and apply to jobs in that vein. Maybe join a consulting company under process improvement.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 8:01 AM on March 26, 2014

I'd be careful about trying to take your career in a consulting direction; while not all consulting work requires travel, especially since you're in a pretty dense area of the NEC, it'll limit your options a lot if you're not able/willing to fly around for work.

That said, your skillset actually sounds pretty solid. There are a lot of project management jobs that are more about managing projects than people. Some formal PM training and some database learning could take you far.
posted by Tomorrowful at 8:12 AM on March 26, 2014

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