The Evolution of a Product Manager Career by Airbnb PM
Product Management is becoming increasingly diversified. However, there are still learnings we can apply to any personal situation.
Helen Sims, Product Manager at Airbnb, will share her particular vision of the PM journey. There are lessons to be learnt at every stage, from the way you plan your five-decade career as an early PM; to that moment in the future when you are managing manager teams!
Meet Helen Sims
Helen Sims is a Product Manager at Airbnb, focused on host acquisition. She has also worked on improving the guest journey and merchandising the homes inventory. In the past, she was promoted three times in Zynga, from Product Manager, to Senior Product Manager, to Director of Product.
Career Lessons Through the Years
What type of PM career progression do you like? Shaped like a hockey stick, up to the top? Sure. Most people’s stories are not so clearly upwards, though. People transition from many different backgrounds. There are also difficult moments in the product world. For Helen Sims, the key question is: What can you do over 50 years? That is, your whole career. The truth is you can accomplish a lot in five decades. Think of your career in this way and optimise!
The Evolution of a PM Career with Helen Sims
- “I spent my entire Senior year adapting my coursework towards product management”.
- “Many resons to join a company or pick a career are too short-sighted. You’ll probably be working for 50 years!”
Product Manager Career Lessons
Lessons for Product Managers starting out:
- Think about your career in terms of a 50-year trajectory.
- You will probably iterate on existing products. Learn to work with other disciplines, get used to unexpected results.
Lessons for entry-level Product Managers:
- “Do work with help”
- Never leave a messaging app open while you present.
Lessons for established Product Managers:
- “Do work”: Build entire products, but remember that they won’t always work.
- Always deflect praise and absorb blame.
Lessons for Managers of Product Managers:
- Help others do work.
- Remember: people don’t leave bad jobs, they leave bad managers! Focus on the great feeling of watching someone else blossom.
Lessons for Managers of Managers:
- Craft your product philosophy.
- You must learn to enable others, as you apply effective leadership to multiply your team’s impact.