My name is Kalia Aragon, Senior Product Manager at Flatiron Health and former Product Manager at Disney Streaming Services. I started my professional career in the nonprofit space. I studied political science and wanted to change the world and fell into product by accident.
Fast forward to today, I consider myself to be a living breathing product chameleon. A product leader who can assess, adapt and thrive in most companies and product teams!
In this article, I’ll talk about how to adapt to anything and how to be a product chameleon.
Here’s our main talking points:
- Assessing what kind of product manager a company needs you to be
- How to be the product manager the company needs
- What are the perks of being a product chameleon?
Let’s get to it 👇
Assessing what kind of product manager a company needs you to be
Storytime: My first product interview
When I had my first product interview, I was transitioning out of the nonprofit space. I was working at a consulting agency where I had large clients such as Footlocker and Google.
The company I was interviewing for was a small startup agency that worked in the artificial intelligence space. I thought because of my skills, working on the client side and managing the operations, I would be able to pick up product without much of a problem.
During my first phone screen with a hiring manager, I was asked “what is the difference between an SDK and an API?”. I had no idea what the right answer was. Now, of course I do, but the Kalia who studied transitional justice and worked on building texting tools, and customer databases didn’t.
At that moment, I felt like a failure. How could I not even pass an initial phone screen? However, what I've come to realize is that my real mistake was not being able to assess the product culture of the company and see what kind of product manager they wanted. Taking a beat and doing the kind of assessment we're going to talk about here throughout your career is really important.