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I never ever ever thought we’d get back together, but school and I have officially made up and I couldn’t be happier about it! Though, to be fair, BrainStation hardly feels like the school I’m familiar with.
For starters, the collective experience, intelligence and enthusiasm of the class is exciting to be part of. I was worried that I might not “fit in” with the rest of the students in my class in terms of experience, age or interests, but the class couldn’t be more diverse: from engineers to digital marketers, the wine industry to real estate, and recent grads to seasoned pros. I wholeheartedly believe that to achieve something great you need the influence of a wide array of perspectives, so I’m looking forward to working alongside and getting to know this multifaceted group of people over the next 9 weeks.
I was also pleasantly surprised by our class instructor, Balaji. He’s passionate and knowledgeable about the subject matter, boasting an impressive 20-year career in the product management field. Starting off in aviation he transitioned into tech working at BlackBerry during the early Smartphone days before diving into the startup world. I expect the expertise he’s gained over his career to date should prove both fascinating and useful to us as we work toward learning what it takes to be a COO (NOTE: Bal compares the Product Manager to the COO of a company. Whereas the CEO often creates the overall “vision” for the company and acts as the “face”, the COO is typically tasked with the day-to-day, rolling up their sleeves to keep the vision running smoothly.)
After discussing what a product even is, learning about the Product Management function and reviewing the feat that lies ahead of us (developing and iterating on a product idea, followed by creating a formal product proposal for that idea) Bal tasked us with our first assignment: come up with a list of problems that exist today. For example, “Person X wants to do Y, but can’t because of Z…” As the final project centers around coming up with a product idea, the purpose of this exercise is to begin identifying problem spaces for which we’d like to deliver a product. Hmm, “Jessica needs to do her homework, but she wants to watch Netflix…”