Are you interested in exploring a career as a product manager in the power industry? There are so many great opportunities in this field but becoming a product manager is a fantastic place to start. Here are several tips to help you position yourself to break into the role.
The Right Experience
Many product managers today are self-taught because there simply was no formal path to learning how to build products before. The most common ways to become a product manager are to either create a startup and learn everything on the go or join a fast-growing startup and transition to a product management career from other roles such as software engineering or project management. The skills developed in both roles really help develop the expertise needed to succeed in such a position.
However, in the power industry, it’s the technical expertise of energy production that really sets a product manager up for success. Given that most entry-level product management positions require a few years of experience on the job, many candidates need at least a basic level of understanding of how power production works in order to manage products within this space. Sometimes, the hardest part is convincing the hiring company that you will be successful as a product manager without having a formal product management title yet. But that’s not a deal-breaker. The best way to fill that gap is to position yourself as being successful in all key areas a product manager needs to cover and tie those successes and skills to the various industry-relevant work experiences you already have.
Some companies nurture their own PMs via APM programs that give new recruits bounds of mentoring while holding responsibility, owning features, products, and important projects. This is considered the “throw them in the deep end” technique of training a company’s next generation of product managers. It’s helpful to know that getting a job as a product manager is more competitive than getting a job as a software engineer (at about a 1 to 10 difference). So while it’s competitive, a diverse and relevant skillset can be what helps you get noticed.
The Right Skills
The biggest skill set required in this role is a strong technical background, specifically based in the power industry, if possible. While you don’t need to be an engineer necessarily, you need to understand how things work and be able to earn the respect of your engineers. Those who know the technical processes involved and how different aspects of power generation interact with each other definitely have a leg up.
Additionally, you have to care about the product that you want to manage. The best way to prove that you understand a market, its customers, its problems and what needs to change is to have experience working in the same industry, even if it wasn’t as a product manager. For example, if you were an experienced technician who was committed to progressing in your career, you can use that expertise to apply for a role as a product manager given enough time and understanding. Being a product manager requires deep industry knowledge, and it’s incredibly difficult to switch industries and jobs at the same time. So focus on the industry and scale your skills to make sense for the role.
Lastly, you are going to want to showcase your communication skills because, at the end of the day, that is often the number one need within this space. Many PMs spend most of their time communicating. As a product manager, you are responsible for defining the what, and your team is responsible for defining the how. So make sure you feature the skills that will help you do that.
For more tips on how to break into your career in the power industry, connect with the team at ESGI today.