Careers X Major Insights - Product Management
by Bobo Deng
What is Product Management?
Product Management refers to the strategic function within a firm that is responsible for guiding every step of a product’s lifecycle: from development to positioning and pricing, with a customer focus in mind. This field is increasingly growing in popularity, particularly in the technology sector where traditional products are quickly uprooted by more innovative solutions.
What working in product management looks like
UNSW Business Society’s former Careers Director, Jim Ji, currently in his pre-penultimate year of study, reflected on the internships and experiences he has acquired in this ever-evolving industry. His first professional experience was at Amazon as an analyst in the Amazon Prime team, making it one of “the best experiences [he’s] had” as he worked on: Prime Day 2020, Amazon Flex and Amazon Supply Chain. For Prime Day 2020, he “worked with sales and marketing to write a Go-To-Market strategy for how marketing should promote the event, how sales were procuring the deals, and so on” which is a key element to product management. Regarding the latter, Jim analysed the entire delivery network to identify performance issues with Amazon’s next-day delivery service to better optimise resources and “configure how Amazon Flex would impact the supply chain and delivery process.”
Alongside his internships, Jim is on a mission to replace business cards by making connecting as easy as tapping phones. Earlier this year, Jim co-founded Tapit – a technology platform that leverages a range of contactless technologies including Near Field Communications (NFC) and Beacons (BLE) to facilitate interactivity from consumers. As with everything, startups have their challenges and Jim noted that one of the greatest obstacles he has faced is time management, noting that “you have to make sacrifices – whether it be uni, personal life or family.” However, he highlighted that “owning something and knowing that you and your team have created impact is an incredibly rewarding experience… seeing people use my product has given me the determination to keep moving forward.”
What Jim enjoyed about studying Information Systems
The way we live, work and do business is revolutionising due to rapid developments in technology, and having “a technology background is extremely valuable” to drive innovation and creativity in the workplace. As stated by Jim “everyone knows that the workplace has two critical aspects to it – the technical and the soft skills which people are hired on” and he provides insight on why “the Bachelor of Information Systems provides both of these critical aspects and more.”
On the technical side, Jim found the INFS Java coding courses “extremely handy for explaining and understanding workplace issues” and consequently led him to learning python which was critical to “navigate Amazon’s internal coding tools which allowed [Jim] to build a mailing tool for the Amazon Prime marketing and sales team.” On the business side, he highlighted how the INFS course projects challenge students to use class theory to solve business issues, making them “good stimulation for what work is like in the real world… allowing one to solve a variety of business situations and problems.”
The Importance of Extracurriculars
Jim emphasised the importance of extracurriculars in developing both soft and technical skills. He particularly enjoyed UCC and expressed, “without UCC, I wouldn’t be half the man I am today” due to the extensive resources and time dedicated to upskilling squad members. Furthermore, he emphasised the importance of actively participating in extracurriculars to surround oneself with high achievers and form lifelong mentorships and friendships – crucial for both one’s personal and professional network. Jim also highly recommends case competitions due to the “constant presentation, speaking and problem-solving skills” exercised which are key skills applicable to almost any industry, particularly in the technology start-up space of product management.
Advice to those looking to pursue product management
Jim’s recommendation for those interested in the technology sector is to “pursue product management at the 3 most likely unicorns: Atlassian, Canva and Airwallex.” However, he emphasised the challenge of doing so due to the small offers made by each firm. Nonetheless, Jim tells us the rewarding nature of product management due to the “first-hand opportunity to change and shape the products of these unicorns with Australia as their home base.”
Study tips for current UNSW students
Jim also provided some tips for studying. He tells us that his motivation to work hard largely stems from his support network, advising students to surround themselves with the right people who can assist in group projects and challenge them to do more. Moreover, he emphasised the importance of working hard in 1st and 2nd years to alleviate academic pressure in later years, allowing students to dedicate more time to application and interview preparation for internships.
Jim also suggests, “build a progression planner to calculate your WAM – this helps you aim for specific marks and visualise where your courses stack up in the grand scheme of things.” Regarding time management and balancing commitments, Jim highlights the importance of “starting with the basics – have a calendar, have a diary and organize your day thoroughly… it’s all about trying to do it in small pieces rather than relying on bursts of motivation and trying to accomplish it all.”