From Technical Support to Product Management

Mark Barnes has extensive experience in facing customers, initially as a customer support engineer and then later in his career as a product manager. Continue reading to learn more about his transition and views about product management.

1. What’s your academic background/training?
BEng in Electronics Engineering from Sussex University.
Postgraduate Diploma in Marketing from Chartered Institute of Marketing.
2. What did you do before you where a product manager?
Field Service > Customer Support > Sales Support > Product Management
3. Where did you work prior to your current position?
Prior to current position at Tektronix I worked for Adherent Systems Ltd, (Digital Broadcast Test and Measurement) as a Product Manager. Adherent was acquired by Tektronix (General T&M) who in turn have been recently been acquired by Danaher (global portfolio of companies) - now my current employer. Prior to Adherent I worked for Radamec Broadcast Systems Ltd as a Customer Support Engineer, Sales Support Engineer and Product Manager. Prior to that I worked in the Oil and Gas exploration industry for Baker Hughes Inteq (aka Exlog) as a Field Service engineer.
4. What inspired you to become a product manager?
The desire to improve the products I was working with. In previous (support) roles I was always dealing with the results of other peoples product development decisions. I felt I could do better and had ideas about how to improve products and services so decided I should put my money where my mouth is and take on that responsibility in a product management role.
5. How did you make the move from being a Support Engineer to becoming a product manager?
During time spent in customer support role I found I gravitated towards sales activities, demo's, trade shows etc. This led me to realise that I needed to be in a position where I could more effectively influence product direction and when a Product Management opportunity in the same company came up, I took it.
6. What do you like best about your job?Getting to the bottom of customers problems and developing solutions that make those people and their companies more successful.
7. What do you least like about your job?
Overcoming the challenges of large company 'inertia' needed to execute with velocity.
8. How do you keep up with the latest technologies?Mostly through working closely with in house development teams on Product Requirement and Software Requirement Specs. Continuous customer engagement, Trade Shows and Standards bodies attendance also help.
9. Describe your Product Management job in one sentence.
Solving customers problems profitably.
10. What’s your dream product to manage?
Great question - something that I am passionate about, is strongly differentiated and targeted at a clearly defined niche segment.
11. How would you describe managing product development before you/your company adopted agile?We don't tend to use agile in teh hardware world. My current company uses a gating process common to many hardware technology companies product introduction processes. A product is researched, defined and business case justified before the main thrust of development commences. Some amount of de-risking by the development team may take place before the project gets the green light.
12. What would be the top three attributes you need to do your job?#Insight into customer needs, current and future.
#Ability to communicate effectively across functions, and at all levels, of the organisation.
#Leadership qualities - necessary to motivate cross-functional teams to deliver outstanding products that deliver value to all stakeholders.
13. What’s the key attribute you need in order to work with the development team?
Credibility in the eyes of the developers - I have seen others fail because of this.
14. What do you do when you’re not managing products (outside interests)?
Young family occupies most time. Also motorcycles.
15. What advice would you give some one who wants to become a product manager?
Product Management can be very rewarding because you control, and are accountable for, the product or service in question. However the Product Manager must be truly passionate about the Product or Service to maximise the rewards. If you do not feel a connection to the Product or Service in question then don't take the position - find one that you care about.

1 comment:

  1. Learning is a continuous process and it remains continue whole the life. An employee always keep learning from it's duties. A good employes always wish to learn and to improve it's work.

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