What I’d say to an aspiring PM…
Hey! My name's Allison, and I’m a Product Manager (PM) on the Investor Reporting team at Valon. Prior to Investor Reporting, I was on our Escrow team. As a PM, I'm responsible for the product vision, strategy, and roadmap. I ensure that our priorities are in order and that we’re listening to our users.
I studied business in college, but I don’t think what you study dictates whether you can be a successful PM. My background allows me to uniquely excel in identifying business opportunities: what is the impact we're aiming to ship, and how can I communicate that with my team? Of course, there are also PMs who are more inclined towards tech, design, or other areas of expertise.
After college, I did two years in consulting which still impacts how I work today. In consulting, it’s important to ensure all relevant entities (e.g., senior partners, clients) have clear visibility of the project progress and direction. That’s where I developed my skill for stakeholder management and socialization.
Another skill I honed while consulting was managing ambiguity. In consulting, you often have to take an abstract problem, and, with the absence of complete information, quickly and intelligently make decisions that can bring you to the solution. It really forces you to structure problem solving and the importance of prioritization.
One difference between working in consulting and at a startup is the way you learn. In consulting, you have a clear set of expectations and a structured bi-weekly feedback cycle where your supervisors identify your strengths and your areas for development. Once you leave that bubble, there’s less hand-holding, but there are also more opportunities for growth. As a PM, when you feel stretched thin, you put your best foot forward, and the collaborative environment and peer feedback allow you to come out having learned new skills for next time.
At Valon, I’ve learned a lot about being an innovator in an established space. We have extremely bright and dedicated people trying to improve an area of everyday life that has not traditionally been tech forward. I get to work with tech experts and mortgage servicing experts. As a PM, I’m lucky to play a hand in bridging the gap between those two areas.
My advice to anyone who wants to be a PM would be to try to be entrepreneurial! Reach out to people that are doing similar things, ask them about their path. Don't underestimate the value of your network, of course, but also genuinely learn from people. There are so many roles that can help you develop the necessary skill sets. Be willing to try different things, and do your research on which skill sets you really want to sharpen.
When it comes time to pick a place to deploy those skills, do your research and choose wisely. When I was interviewing with Valon, I felt the company had a great mission, and the job was a fantastic opportunity… But what made me choose Valon was the chance to work with dynamic people. Everyone's so capable, driven, and caring. I probably spend more time than I’d like to admit with my co-workers—I mean friends—outside of work.
The first thing I’d look for in hiring a new member of my team is a good attitude: someone who is excited to learn, ready to take on more ownership. At Valon, it’s been a great learning experience to see cultures from traditionally different industries come together and solve a problem that affects everyday Americans. Ultimately, here, you really feel like nobody accomplishes anything great alone—we’re all in this together.
If you’re interested in joining Valon’s team, we’re hiring! Browse our open career opportunities.