A while back, I had a mentor who gave me simple advice. You have good ideas, get them down on paper and show that you are a thought leader. When possible, publish via a third party. Over the years, I have found this advice exceedingly helpful. It can be time-consuming to organize your thoughts on paper regarding the change or challenge the business faces. However, it’s worth it when you and your team experience the resulting clarity. This overarching philosophy guided me to become an active member of Product Led Alliance (PLA).  

I recently went through a career transition. Much of my career has been in consulting. I owned a line of businesses for project management and business operations. Then, after 15 years of on-and-off consulting, I decided to transition into what we called an “industry role.” 

I landed at Infoblox in their product operations (product ops) team. One of my first tasks was to advocate for the full scope of what product ops could do in the upcoming fiscal year and measure the positive impact of our accomplishments for the current year. I had my first executive leadership meeting at Infoblox. I wanted the value proposition of product ops to speak for itself. 

Quickly, I took the PLA Product Operations Masters Class. Good news, my presentation covered most of the Master Class material and pointed out some additional content ideas, specifically:

  1. Identifying when a team is too large to rely on tribal knowledge, and
  2. Getting agreement on who is the product ops customer. There was confusion as to who our team’s customer was. Was it the product manager or the end customer? (By the end of the meeting, we had agreed it was the product manager.)

Adding this new content rounded out my presentation and moved it from pretty good to great! I saw this as a pivotal moment in which I was building trust with leadership team members. It became obvious that the Masters Class gave me that extra polish I needed to shine.

I decided to write Maturing product ops: 3 critical steps to scaling for success for PLA because I wanted to add to the communal body of knowledge around recurring themes. From attending the monthly PLA product ops meetings, I knew that others were also struggling with questions such as:

  • For the purpose of annual planning, how do we collect data and evaluate the maturity of our teams? 
  • With declining budgets, how do we demonstrate our value and advocate for staffing levels? 

Publishing an article on the PLA website resulted in so many benefits: 

  • Reconnecting with a larger swath of my network on LinkedIn 
  • Inspiring me to update my website: https://jessburgamy.me/ 
  • Establishing myself as an expert in my field with my new employer.
  • Most importantly, the article was a small but important component of achieving my goal of promotion to Director.

My PLA membership enables me to be a continuous learner. I can move quickly without having to recreate the wheel. For example:

  • While working on career ladders, I read a PLA article about writing job descriptions to hire product ops professionals. 
  • As a member, I can access templates & frameworks, which I had not used much until I realized the repository had the exact thing I needed at the time - a template for conducting one-on-one product manager interviews.
  • Lastly, I’m active on the PLA Slack channel and have leveraged it to ask others about the software we were considering purchasing. 

I continue to be impressed with and learn from PLA members. It's through this organization that I've been able to learn about how others are implementing industry best practices such as OKRs.

Each time I attend a virtual gathering or training, I learn something new or start thinking about an existing problem from a different perspective. Being a PLA member gives me the edge I need to succeed.