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First VP of Product for Target & Lululemon / alanwizemann.com and product.wtf

My name is Alan Wizemann, Entrepreneur, digital transformation specialist, first VP of Product for Target (Target.com, Cartwheel) and Lululemon

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  • Do you think product management is mostly about being able to lead a team?

    Hi Alan,

    I'm a CEO of a startup that raised about 75k in angel funding. I had one other technical cofounder and we have two interns (one engineer, another marketing). We had built a working product with a few paying customers, but unfortunately, we weren't able to get very much traction and we decided to close down in a month and we are all in the process of finding jobs. I created this startup right out of college and had no previous experience. I'm now trying to figure out which job would best fit me and my skills.

    My first instinct was to look for product manager jobs, but I'm a bit hesitant because I'm not exactly sure if I was a product manager as our CEO. I don't know how to code or design at all. But I'm confident I can work with engineers and designers. I can get them to trust in me and in the team, and lead them towards a goal. Is that mainly what a product manager should do? How difficult would it be for someone to be product manager without any engineering or design skills?

    Alan Wizemann's avatar image.

    Sorry, for your loss - I've been there and hopefully, you were able to learn more about yourself and possible mistakes to take on the next challenge. I have worked with many highly capable and successful product managers that had no design or engineering abilities. I know that their job was much more challenging because they didn't possess those skills, but they worked harder to learn a common vernacular across those disciplines and partnered with their design and engineering leads to understanding workflow, process and timelines. This work helped them schedule work appropriately, make promises that could be delivered to the business and built trust across the team. Being a CEO of a small startup is, in my opinion, a true product owner. So to answer your question - yes. Get out there; your skills are needed.