FranklinCovey Technical Product Manager
University of Utah - David Eccles School of Business Bachelor of Science (BS), Management Information Systems, General
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How did you get to where you are today? What is your story? What incidents and experiences shaped your career path?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Thu Feb 13 2020
That's a really good question. I think a lot of people have a lot of different pass to becoming a product manager or toe getting in a product. But for me, I actually started in the world of construction. Um, and I started doing going down the career path of construction management, and I found myself a lot more interested in the software that was used in the industry than, um, actually, you know, building buildings and roads s o I I switched my career path to information systems. Um, and that's when I started to really dive deep into software and started trying to learn. You know how it works on the back and how it works in the front end. Um, that, you know, obviously lead thio, you know, graduating and information systems. But along the along the way, I got a lot of different jobs that gave me experience in those areas. So I did technical support. I, you know, started doing implementation foreign structure. And then I I morphed into a product roll at a start up company that we developed a sports A gaming app. So, um, that was kind of my my path to where I am now, but you know, really was shaped by that first decision toe. Focus on technology

What are the responsibilities and decisions that you handle at work? Discuss weekly hours you spend in the office, for work travel, and working from home.

Based on experience at: Technical Product Manager, FranklinCovey
Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Thu Feb 13 2020
Yeah, so right now my responsibilities are really I'm over three entire education product online. So I worked for Franklin Covey and we we build a product around a program called The Leader of Me that helps Children learn life skills. Um, so it's my job to build that online product that will not only help our internal teams go out and help schools, but also helps external principals, teachers, um, and all the difference roles within a school, um, get materials and get training materials and trainings that they need to kind of help them be better at their jobs. So right now, I'm over that product we're building way just started building that a new product from scratch. We're kind of sun setting the old product. So it's been a really fun time, cause I get to play a little bit of a startup role within a very established company. So been a lot of fun

What tools (software programs, frameworks, models, algorithms, languages) do you use at work? Do you prefer certain tools more than the others? Why?

Based on experience at: Technical Product Manager, FranklinCovey
Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Thu Feb 13 2020
a really great question. I like this one because there are a 1,000,000,000 tools out there for me. I've used mostly Ruby. Um, a SZ faras coding language goes. So I've been I've been really kind of engulfed into the ruby. Uh, I guess there's a lot of ruby connections here in Utah, so I've kind of been both myself in the whole, you know, Ruby language and how it works. And and, ah, there's some great advantages to Ruby. There's also some disadvantages. Each coding language I've learned over time has has both advantages and disadvantages. Um, one that I like about Ruby is It's a very, um, quick language. So meaning if you're looking for fast prototyping of a product, or you need to build something a little bit faster than you might I need to say PHP or, you know, Java are things like that. It allows you to build quicker. Um, but there's some disadvantages in that, too. So, um, but I'm used to using Ruby. That's what I've used over the last, you know, six years or so, but other programs that go along with that, you know, get hub is a very valuable tool to learn. It's where most developers will push their code where you can, you know, get changes. You can find a lot of really good resource. Is there? Um, Amazon Web service is another one that to really get it and go to it. That's where most companies air hosting their websites of their applications these days. Um, and then just getting a general knowledge of a P I calls, I'm so important, at least for my job. But just the ability to transfer data from one application to another application and do an integration of that data AP I calls are our key for me in my world.

What things do you like about your job? Were there any pleasant surprises?

Based on experience at: Technical Product Manager, FranklinCovey
Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Thu Feb 13 2020
one thing I like. I kind of alluded this a little bit before about my job is when When I came in, Franklin Covey needed to thio transfer away from an old product and to build a new product. And so a pleasant surprise for me was, I kind of got to design and build a product from scratch, which you don't get to do a lot of times when you're going to a more established company. Um, and it's one of the reasons why they wanted to hire beyond, because at the previous company I work for, which was, Ah, sports application game, we did just that. And so I had some experience in designing a product from scratch and what that looks like, Um, because there's a lot of complication in that, but that was a pleasant surprise for me. Um, I really loved building things. And so it's fun to, you know, work with other team's design, a product, you know, work with the developer, build it and then see people use it. That's really, really rewarding for me.

What are the job titles of people you routinely work with inside and outside of your organization? What approaches do you find to be effective in working with them?

Based on experience at: Technical Product Manager, FranklinCovey
Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Thu Feb 13 2020
in my position, cause everybody on the education side of Franklin Covey uses our product. And so I've had to work with every team in the company. So marketing director's director of products, director of Inter in operations, director of training, director of I T. And then all of the people underneath those people of that, if that makes sense. But what I'm usually doing with them is is meetings with them to see what needs they need met from the product we're building. And so it's it's kind of requirements gathering in a lot of ways. But then also after you've built something, re meeting with them to make sure that you met those those needs and those requirements and and maybe you couldn't build a mall. So now you're scoping new things that they need. So it's a constant involvement of the product, and you're always in touch with with pretty much everybody as faras, the managers of each department is in the company

What major challenges do you face in your job and how do you handle them? Can you discuss a few accomplishments?

Based on experience at: Technical Product Manager, FranklinCovey
Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Thu Feb 13 2020
I really like this question. Because one thing that I like to tell people route product management is often times when it comes to building a product you get asked the questions of Can you build this? Um, you know, is it possible to do this? So is it possible to do that? But I'd like to tell people those are the wrong questions. Um, the right question is, should you build it? Why are you going to build it? Um, you know, I wrote some down here. Sorry. Should we build it where we're building it where the goals were trying to meet by building this? Do we have data or, um, proof that what we're gonna build for you is gonna work or that people are gonna use it? So, really, the questions that you ask before you start building are essential to building the right product. Um, and those were really the challenges because a lot of times, nontechnical people, they they only see what they want built. And they have a hard time understanding possibilities of what can be built. Given you have the right requirements. So that's my biggest challenges is you know, people coming to me and saying, Hey, can we do this and me having to take a step back and saying Why or how or is that really what you need? Um, and maybe open their eyes to other possibilities?

What qualities does your team look for while hiring? What kind of questions does your team typically ask from candidates?

Based on experience at: Technical Product Manager, FranklinCovey
Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Thu Feb 13 2020
for me the questions that we typically are asking our questions that air leading around Are you good at working by yourself? Or are you good at getting a direction and running with that direction without much, um, without being told what to do? Really? Like I'm trying to think of a good example there, but basically, you know, if I if I came to somebody and said, Hey, I need you to go and do some research with some of our principles on this feature. I need that person to go and figure that out and and, you know, come up with their own plan on how to execute and then come back to me with the results. Um, that's the kind of person that that were typically looking for. That Franklin Covey is typically working for is not always what every company's working for, but it's a really great skill tohave, um and you know, accountability along the way is always key

What was the hiring process like for your job? What were the roles of people who interviewed you? What kind of questions were asked?

Based on experience at: Technical Product Manager, FranklinCovey
Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Thu Feb 13 2020
pretty intense. Brenton Cobe really likes to have you meet almost everybody in the company before you're you're hired on. So I originally met with our director of product, who is my boss? Um and you know, once we kind of talked and he felt like I was a good fit. I went and met with the director of marketing and the director of I T and a few other people was in the company, just two for them to get a sense of the skills that I had. It was probably about 5 to 6 different interviews that I held along the way, coming back and forth to the office. But I think that's pretty typical these days. When I when I worked at in structure, I think I had four interviews with 20 different people are not all separately. They were group group interviews, Um, but it's Ah, that's typical. More and more these days is T interview with quite a few different people to gauge your personality, to gauge your fit with the culture of the company and then to gauge your experience and how well you would jump into a roll

What are some future career path(s) for you? What skills, certificates, or experiences do you plan on acquiring?

Based on experience at: Technical Product Manager, FranklinCovey
Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Thu Feb 13 2020
my end goal is Thio One. They want to be like a C t o or a director product over an entire products to help, you know, make the decisions in the end, right on the decisions that will help with the business needs currently, You know, my boss does that. We work closely together, and I help certainly help in each of those areas. But, um, you know the skills that I still need to learn to get there I think there's some, uh, quite a few, you know, product management type certifications I could get. I certainly have thought about, you know, you know, going back and getting my masters and information systems. That could certainly help. Um, but ah, you know, continuing to go down the path of learning from different product managers and their style, Uh, that's kind of my career path.

What are different entry-level jobs and subsequent job pathways that can lead students to a position such as yours?

Based on experience at: Technical Product Manager, FranklinCovey
Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Thu Feb 13 2020
There's a lot of different past, Like I've met product managers that have come into the role from a lot of different ways from the development side, you know? And I know product managers that actually got their C s degree. Um, I know product managers that had a degree in communications, right? But I think the things that helped to me the most are I actually went down the path of project management and technical project management. And so I took roles as, like, technical implementation consultants Or, um, you know, technical product, project manager at Pearson Education. Um, and then the one that helped me the most was I took the product. Ah, junior product manager job at a startup company. Um, this this the sports app I talked about and the previous questions, and that one helped me the most. In a startup, you wear a ton of different hats. You're a lot less confined to kind of one department with a big corporation. And so I grew tenfold in that job. But I mostly work directly with the developers, scoping new products directly with our design team, you know, designing new new features and and new pages on the APP. Um, but I think that if you know any of those positions is great, because it gets you into the product and into a position where you're seeing how it's being used, but also how it's being built, any position that could get you that that double lens, um, will help you if one of your goals is to be a product manager or like a technical product project manager anywhere.

What were the responsibilities and decisions that you handled at work? What major challenges did you face in your job?

Based on experience at: Project/Product Manager, United Games
Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Thu Feb 13 2020
aims a startup I was talking about. So, um, are major challenges and my major responsibilities. There were really I interfaced with our marketing and sales team and our development and our designers. Um, a lot of times I was working with our marketing and sales team Thio understand if the product wasn't working or or features that may need to be built to make it better and then going back to our development and design team and working on ways to accomplish those goals. Um, and the major challenges of that is a lot of times the goals of both those departments are very different. And, uh, you know, as you the people on in your class, you know, start to get into the business world and see ah, lot of times sales and marketing clashes with development and design. And so it's it's finding what we call it Franklin Covey, a win win solution for everybody that ah can give marking sells what they need but also build fun or not fun. In the In the case of United Games, it was a game, so building features that kept our users engaged, um, and so that's kind of the major one major challenges that I've seen in every company is that balance between marketing, sales and development and design.

How did the program prepare you for your career? Think about faculty, resources, alumni, exposure & networking. What were the best parts?

Based on experience at: Bachelor of Science (BS), Management Information Systems, General, University of Utah - David Eccles School of Business
Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Thu Feb 13 2020
what the information system program did was help me pick a focus. Um, I think one thing information system does well is kind of get your hands into every type of, uh, every type of product. In a way, um, I really liked the technical side. Um, and so my favorite parts and what I focused most on was really the technical side. So in in your class wrote when it was PHP. I don't know what it's called now, but I got really excited to learn that because, um, I dove deeper than the class required, right? Not only did I build a PHP app that would work with the database, I learned how the front end of that work. So I tied in CSS in html, and that actually helped me get a job somewhere. Um, but really, it helps me pick a focus. I knew that I wanted to go down this like project product manager past. After a lot of the courses that I took, I knew I didn't really want to be a full fledged developer because I really liked the human interaction part of the job. And, um and sometimes as a developer, you don't get that. So it was great for me. Toe. Understand The technical aspects of a product would also understand the business decisions behind it, so that's really where helped me.

Would you like to share something that is not on your resume? This may include your passions, facing setbacks or adversities, a unique experience, or an unexpected help.

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Thu Feb 13 2020
I think I would share. Um, was and this kind of piggybacks on the last question a little bit. But, um you know, uh, networking within the University of Utah was really helpful for me. I met a lot of people at the you that actually helped me get jobs later down the road. And then I still keep in touch with today. Um, So the friends that you make around you right now can be really beneficial to growing your career later down the road. That's what I would say.