Hostmaker PM and Product School Alum Paolo Raffin Reviews the PM Course [Interview]
He had held many product-related roles in the past and wanted to certify his experience through the Product School course. As he reviews Product School, learn what he gained from the classes and what to expect as a PS student. Check out the full interview!
Paolo Raffin’s Bio
Paolo Raffin is currently a Product Manager at Hostmaker. In the past, he has been a Software Engineer, Business Analyst and Product Owner for different companies. He took the Product Management course at the Product School London Campus last Spring, where he completed a class project about his current company, Hostmaker. Let’s see what he has to say!
Is this your first PM job?
With the official title yes, but I have been a Product Owner, QA Tester, Researcher, Developer, Analyst… I have held several roles involving product before.
How did you decide to apply for a Product Management course?
I wanted to structure my previous knowledge. In the past, I had worked on product-related projects for a while, all the way to Product Ownership. I thought: “This is something that clicks!” After conducting research, I realized that Owners and Researchers were too focused on details. I was more interested in strategy.
How did you encounter Product School?
My very first contact was probably an ad on Instagram about The Product Book. I bought it and read it – I really enjoyed it! Event today, I still pick it up and reread some chapters that are useful to my job.
What made you choose Product School?
My previous company offered a similar certification, but I wanted to look for one that was exclusively dedicated to Product. With this profile in mind, I found Product School and General Assembly. But GA’s course only offered one intensive week.
This wasn’t convenient for me: I would much rather attend part-time, which is the way Product School designs its courses. Besides, I don’t believe in doing anything too quickly, as you probably won’t have time to absorb information. Finally, since the book had already been so useful, I thought I could expand my knowledge with practical classes.
How did you benefit from taking the course?
The most important way it benefits you is by meeting similar people, who are also seeking to become PMs. This helps you understand your strengths and assess how you can improve yourself. It’s a good way to learn where your skills are needed, which give you an idea of the companies you could be working for in the future.
What did you like the most about the classes?
The best things, by far, were the final week presentation and the discussion about the presentation. It’s great because everybody gives you feedback about anything related to your proposal: the product, features, your communication skills… It feels like having real-time feedback on how well you’re doing as a PM, you even end up feeling like a product! My presentation was about my current company, helping me prepare for the challenges I could expect. Actually, the presentation eased the transition into my new job.
Did you get feedback on your progress?
Yes, we did. Feedback was quite helpful. During the presentation, the evaluation was really structured. This gives you time to assess what you produced. By having this specific discussion, you learn how to frame future projects. Feedback sessions also took place informally during the course, as the class format really allows you to interact with other students.
Did you learn more about the PM role?
By being in the PM course, you become more aware of the responsibilities linked to the job.
What is your biggest advice for someone wanting to become a PM?
It depends a lot on many variables: personality, background… My suggestion is: never be afraid to ask. There are many mental blockers preventing us from asking the questions we need to ask. Why didn’t I ask that before? You assume too much and ask too little. If you want to get a grasp of PMing, never be afraid to ask.
Even if you think you know and everything is clear, ask. And ask again. Be keen to ask. And become a really good listener. Understand exactly what you’re saying. Not just hear what’s coming. Everything else is a consequence. You don’t need incredible math unless you’re sending someone to Mars: listening is the most important thing.