A table with four different laptops. Various cups and other tech devices strewn on the table.

Mapping the Product: Career Pathways in Product Management

Last week MCS invited some amazing alumni back for a virtual panel to discuss the field of product, and how to gain entry level opportunities in the field. We were also joined by Harvard Product Lab to kick off the program and discuss how you can start building skills in the product field now!

Alumni Panelists:

Our panelists came from a diversity of backgrounds, and all had interesting insights into the field.

Celena spoke of her experience as a Literature concentrator who worked in product at a startup before enrolling at Stanford to pursue her MBA, where she took some computer science courses to skill up. Now she works as a PM at Meta. According to Celena, while her day-to-day doesn’t require her to code, she still needed to establish a technical background to land her current job. She noted you need to be credible, you need to be trusted by the engineers.

Moira entered the product field after business school, where she was part of HBS’s 2+2 program. She started at iRobot and moved on to the Boston-based automotive tech startup, Motional.

Business school, however, is not the only way to find a way into product. Rafa emphasized that being a leader on campus was helpful in gaining the leadership skills vital for PM roles. While at Harvard, he started the student group Latinx in Finance and Tech (LiFT). Rafa began his product career in big tech as an APM at Google, and he now works at Hinge Health, a healthcare startup.

Rick has been in product at Google for 12 years, and now he hires other PMs, so he shared what he looks for when interviewing candidates. He thinks it is most important to assess if someone likes products, vs. their technical skills.

“One of the most vital skills of a PM is to take a huge amount of info and distill it into destiny! We are drowning in information. PMs need to consider what makes the product important, what makes it the thing we want to do?”

Rick Borovoy

Harvard Product Lab:

We were joined by Executive Director, Aika Aldayarova and Director of Education, Nicole Chen who shared more about HPL.

“We are Harvard’s first product management organization, founded with support from Harvard Computer Society & Harvard Business School. Through training programs, industry experience, and mentorship, Product Lab helps creative problem solvers from diverse backgrounds grow into future product leaders.”

Additional PM Resources:

MCS Save the Dates:

By Meaghan Shea
Meaghan Shea Assistant Director, Technology, Data Analytics, Life & Physical Sciences & Entrepreneurship