Growing a Career in Product Direction

A career in product management and direction is all about ensuring that a business’ products and services are fit for the purpose of its users and acts as the glue between technology, the business and its audience.

If you’d like to know more about a career within Product – some practical insights here from Polly Howden, Chief Product Officer at Just3Things.

We caught up with Polly to find out about her career journey in product direction so far and to collect key pieces of advice to give you the best chance at thriving in this industry.

ADLIB: Let’s start with ‘why product’. What made you decide to get into product management specifically?

Polly: I think of myself as an ‘accidental product manager’ because I found my way into the role in my first job after being offered a graduate job as business development exec working for a fun, growing company. In pursuit of the goal of launching a new website I learned lots of new skills and grew into the role. But the truth is that ever since I was little I was making and selling things (friendship bands anyone?! It was the 90s!!). I have makers in my family too (woodwork, textiles, music) so that’s inspired me.

ADLIB: What is it about your job that inspires you to get out of bed in the morning?

Polly: The opportunity to make people’s lives better by figuring out creative solutions to help them. Variety in what I do every day. Working with smart, funny and passionate people.

ADLIB: What lessons has your work life taught you?

Polly: That empathy, positivity and asking questions are superpowers. Work hard at figuring out your goals then prioritise ruthlessly to achieve them. Figuring out the answer is more important than knowing it. Ask for help.

ADLIB: What are the top 3 skills you think it takes to succeed in Product Direction?

Polly: Curiosity, determination, and empathy are key behaviours and the related skills – problem-solving, organisation, and listening are pretty key.

ADLIB: And finally, if you could give one piece of career advice to someone just starting out their career in Product, what would it be?

Polly: Always ask why.

Thanks so much for sharing!

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