My name is Keith Dell and I’m a BrainStation Product Management Alumni currently living in Toronto, where I work as a Product Manager at Freshbooks. I essentially manage a portfolio of our products and work closely with a SCRUM team.
I came across BrainStation from Facebook, and before deciding to enroll I attended 2 workshops, Intro to Web and Product Management, got to know the people and the space, and through that got the confidence to dive in.
I took the Product Management course because I knew there had to be a better way to PM than I had been taught at my previous company; I felt there were things I could be taught that I hadn’t been shown before. I was working as a PM in a much larger organization that didn’t have an eye for design or the customer, so since taking the course I’ve developed a much greater appreciation for both.
I knew that Product Management was a well defined field with a lot of resources (blogs, articles, etc.), but wasn’t getting the support I needed at work so I wanted to get my foot in the door and thought a course would be a great place to start.
I credit BrainStation for a few things; it provided me with the fantastic course material that was I was looking for, and it confirmed that the career I wanted to get into existed. BrainStation’s PM Educator, Balaji, was an incredible mentor and encouraged me to to go out and apply to jobs outside of my organization.
My course taught me how to product manage the right way; before I was learning how to be a good advocate for my product…be the guy who knew the most…but now I actually know how to manage a product and make decisions that are customer centric vs. company centric.
The most challenging part of the course was coming up with an idea and completing the assignment, knowing I wasn’t getting graded, which takes discipline, especially after a long day at the office. But a few weeks in I found myself loving the content so it became incredibly rewarding. I even had a whiteboard at work so I could keep a backlog on my project.
I was fortunate to go to a business school that allowed me to work in a hands-on, group environment, but what I found with BrainStation was that there was this incredible sense of community and collaboration – my class absolutely loved it, questioned each other’s’ projects, performed surveys for each other, and I actually reached out to some of my classmates when applying for my current job to provide some feedback.
I had no idea how vague the term Product Management was – my class was comprised of students from all sorts of different fields which was interesting and different than what I was used to. I enjoyed meeting people who had different passions yet similar goals. Balaji, our Lead Educator, was a PM for a small company, while Christine, our TA, was a PM at Telus, which was an interesting dynamic.
So, in closing, I thank BrainStation for helping shape my career, because it validated and gave what I wanted to do a definition – it showed me it was possible, and ultimately helped me land a job about 3 months after finishing the course.