Break into Product Management: From HBO to Ericsson
We had an awesome live chat’s on Slack this time with the Product Development Leader at Ericsson, Tibor Popovics. How did he get into product and Ericsson? What were his challenges along the way and how would he advise aspiring Product Managers?
Can you tell us about your background and how you got into product management?
I’m currently in a Product Development Leader at Ericsson. I started my project/product management “career” in 2011. I was working at HBO Europe for 5 years and contributed to building a Europe, Asia and LATAM streaming service called HBO GO. At Ericsson, I work at IP routing.
What were the challenges and how did you tackle the last mile QoS issues with HBO Go?
To be honest, I’m struggling with it a lot, but in a positive way. I wanted to do something less hollywoodish, and QoS just fit into this plan. I’m learning it right now and it’s fun.
What are some traits that you learned as a PM that have been helpful to you?
I think talking to different kinds of people from tech to business and learning from each of those areas. Just keep asking and learning, this helped me the most!
What hooks did you leverage to transition into PM and how did you switch industries that are not adjacent?
It was a tough decision, but if you spend several years dealing with one product on a specific market, eventually you’ll have seen everything and you might get fed up. This was my case, I wanted to do something else, so I sent my CV to Ericsson and in about 3 weeks I signed my contract.
What advice would you give to someone from a non-technical background that is trying to break into product? Any books that have benefited you?
Firstly, start developing your mentality. What is a good product? When you’re using an app, what do you like about it? What do you hate about it? Just general things. Observing real-life examples are crucial. Then learn UX-UI, project management methods (waterfall vs agile) and do some indie projects.
Is it difficult for technical or engineering managers to transition into a role such as yours?
If you’re willing to see things from a different perspective, it’s not at all. The question is what is your motivation? If you are open to learn and work hard you will be fine, I’m sure.
I think the same as for everything else; discipline, willingness to learn, and the right motivation. If these things are there you can be a PM or even an astronaut! It is up to you. Good luck!
What’s your favorite feature prioritization method? Kano or weighted scoring or something different altogether?
Any of them would work. It depends on your mindset and preference. Remember, they are only tools. Personally, I like SWOT.
If you were to hire a Product Management intern, what essential qualities would you look for?
The person would have to be fresh, enthusiastic, dynamic and willing to learn. This is all I’d need from a PM intern. All the rest will come with experience down the road!
If you had to define your role to those in engineering, would it be safe to say you own the product and convey that to them?
In my previous company that was the case. At Ericsson, I’m currently mostly dealing with project-product portfolio management related tasks. I’m making the customers happy with ensuring the feature release rollouts.
How important do you think it is to have a technical background?
Since I have no technical background, I think it is not really important in the beginning, but later on, you need to be prepared to fill those gaps.