Career in Product Management – What Next?

Career in Product Management – What Next? with 1) Al Nevarez, VP Product Management of Allegiance, 2) Deb McClanahan, Principal of BroadBand HR Consulting, 3) Eric Carrasquilla, General Manager of Amdocs CRM Division and 4) Justin Schuster, VP Product Marketing of Lithium. Moderator, Greg Geracie, President of Actuation Consulting and author of the book Take Charge Product Management

By Pushpa Chandrashekaraiah

June 2012 Event

SVPMA’s Monthly event featured a four person panel that shared various perspectives and answered questions regarding a Career in Product Management. The panel not only addressed relevant questions that most of emerging PMs and want-to-be PMs have, but also provided several great tips on those aspiring to senior level product management roles.

Some of the topics discussed were,

1)   How can a PM climb up the ladder from to a Director or a VP?

A good tip from Eric was that get your day job done efficiently so that you will have time to work on other tasks that go beyond your job responsibility. This may provide exposure to other departments within the organization, who can vouch for you during the promotion time. Justin mentioned ‘think diagonally’- keep an eye on opportunities that exist in other areas.

2)   What are the strengths and weaknesses of PMs?

Deb mentioned the foremost important thing is to feel comfortable in the environment (or corporate culture); this will help you succeed as the competitive landscape changes. Al pointed out that a great strength to have is not to empower the environment instead be collaborative in achieving goals. And, the weakness could be to get lost in hairy daily detailed work.

3)   What are the tips for PMs transitioning to Entrepreneurs?

Eric argued that PMs’ responsibilities match with that of an entrepreneur in terms of coming up with and convincing product ideas, assembling teams, being keeper of the vision and voice of the company. Justin cautioned that some future entrepreneurs mistake projects as product ideas; lack of market analysis and fail to hire good teams may end up with an unsuccessful ventures.

4)   How to avoid getting trapped in a domain?

Al brought up a good point that before specializing in an industry, make sure that the industry itself has a good future. For example, data and analytics domain is emerging and will continue to do so because of the obvious data explosion problems all industries are facing. So, domain can be a trap only if you lose interest in the product or the industry.

Some of the last thoughts were: ‘surround yourself with smarter people’, ‘be fearless; act as if you are the owner’, ‘always try to improve your public speaking skills; it’s very critical to articulate ideas or problems’, ‘be great at simplifying, leave time to think, be close to customers but not too close J that you lose initial product strategy focus’ and ‘no one path is perfect, change based on the feedback’.

Pushpa Chandrashekaraiah is a Sr Product Manager for Utilities Analytics at Oracle. With 11 years of PM and engineering experience, she has successfully launched analytics products and engineered transactional applications. Her interest is in big data enterprise market. She can be contacted at:,