Case study

Product Manager — Rich Harper

Rich created a role for himself at a tech start-up as the company’s first product manager. Discover what he enjoys about his role

How did you get into product management?

After I graduated with a BA in Business Studies with E-commerce from the University of Brighton I had a successful internship as a marketing assistant at a small, local agency.

I stayed there for a couple of years, learning about marketing, production and account management with a number of clients. I then used these skills and the local connections I had built up to get a new job at a tech start-up as an account manager.

During this time, looking after and growing our client revenue, I took a keen interest in our product and spent my spare time thinking up ideas and creating mock-ups of new features.

After presenting these to the CEO and CTO they offered me a job as the company's first product manager.

Was your degree relevant for this job?

It was very useful - I learnt a broad range of business skills and about how internet companies work. This knowledge is still the foundation of much of my work today.

What's a regular day like as a product manager?

Typically my day involves talking to clients about their problems, needs and feature requests.

I also, work with a technical development team on products and features and then communicate with internal stakeholders about what we are going to build.

What are your career ambitions?

As I have proven myself and learnt more about our product, I have been able to take on bigger projects and create my own roadmaps.

My next step is to become a senior product manager and potentially head of product as the company grows.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I enjoy being creative in order to find solutions to our clients' problems. I have never been particularly good at programming but this job allows me to see my ideas come to life (often far better than I had imagined) by working with talented developers.

What is the most challenging part?

Saying no. Every client and colleague has a pet feature or problem they would like fixed and it's part of my job to focus on the ones that will have the biggest impact. This can lead to some frustrations from others.

What are the best things about working at a tech start-up?

It's an exciting and fast growing area, meaning lots of opportunities for me and our product to grow and develop. There are always new advancements and investment so nothing stays the same for very long.

What advice can you give others?

Focus on getting into the right company that will support, nurture and challenge you. This is far more important than the role you start with. Once you're in a company it's easier to find new opportunities to try a new role.

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