“Dear Ma and Pa,” you may write someday soon. “Well, I hope you’re sitting down, because you’re talking to the new director of product at one of the biggest media companies in the whole wide world. Well, not talking, because this is a letter. But reading. The words of. Anyways, I hope you can understand just how big a deal this is. Trust me, you won’t need to brag anymore about Pat getting into law school. I know you’re not exactly up on this stuff, so let’s see if I can explain it in a way you’ll understand.”
The Nitty Gritty
“You guys know what apps are, right? Like, Ma, remember I showed you how to play solitaire on your phone? That’s an app, all right? And there’s all kinds of different ones that let you do all kinds of things. Not just games, but useful things like figuring out what song it is, and entertaining things like watching The Ropers. So I’m in a leadership role developing and launching apps for this huge, huge, media company that owns half the stuff you see when you turn on your television. Okay, very slight exaggeration there, but you get the point. I work with designers and engineers to think these things up and then get them built and rolled out.
And the products aren’t just for cell phones – really, it’s all kinds of devices, but I know you’re still getting your heads around the cell phone thing so we’ll leave it there for now. It’s super-rewarding and actually very fun work. I love it because the pace is thrilling, and because it’s both hands-on and big-picture – yes, there’s the broad project-management part of it, but I’m also right there in the scrum. I just realized you don’t know what a scrum is, do you? Don’t worry, it’s nothing dirty (It just sounds like it). A scrum is a kind of meeting, in this creative method we call Agile. Anyway, I’m in that. I’m talking all the time with stakeholders throughout the company, and of course I’m talking all the time with our tech people. In a cool way, I own these products end-to-end, which means I’m not just in on the brainstorming and/or the building, but also the testing. It’s a big, hugely rewarding, role. And I can just hear you right now asking each other how on earth I ever got it.”
Hired Gun Proﬁle
“Well, I’ll try to explain, and I’ll try not to use a lot of jargon, since God knows you guys aren’t exactly with it. Which, by the way, it’s Game of Thrones, Pa, not Thorns, the way you put it in your last letter, just the same way it was always Downton Abbey, not Downtown Abby. Anyways, step one was I have five solid years of experience doing this stuff at a senior level, been doing it since before Pat ever even thought of law school, although you may not have noticed. Not to mention I probably could have got the job without my BS in computer science, but I’m sure that helped.
Step two is I’ve done a lot of work on consumer apps in Apple iOS, which is just never mind. On top of that, I’ve worked on plenty of teams that used Agile, plus I have solid experience with A/B testing, JIRA and Omniture, which are just never mind. And goodness knows you raised me not to toot my own horn (or to believe you’d ever toot it for me), but I honestly think they hired me because they liked the way I talk. See, I’m comfortable geeking out with tech types, but I can also hold my own at a table with a bunch of bigwig execs. And I think, too, one thing that probably came across is that I actually care about the users of these products. I’m proud to say that that’s always on my mind. I guess you’ll probably take credit for that – salt of the earth and so on. Right?”
“Oh, and I’m a problem-solver, too, if I do say so myself. When I interviewed, I had a couple of stories ready, times when I’d taken really complex problems and broken them down into elegant, innovative solutions. I told you guys about them when they happened, and you guys were polite and everything, but I know you didn’t really understand what I was talking about. And then you went back to talking about Pat.”
“So anyways, I’ve got a lot to do, so I guess I will close. And I suppose you need to go milk the sheep or water the alpacas or whatever. So just know that I’m out here, doing what I love, at one of the biggest and most successful companies in history. I work with great people, and I’m respected and valued for what I do. How do you like me now?
P.S. Be sure to pass along my good news to Pat.”