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!
- Rick Borovoy, Group Product Manager at Google (AB Computer Science ’89, PhD MIT ’01)
- Moira Doherty, Director of Product at Motional (SB Engineering ‘11, MBA ‘15)
- Rafa Hernandez, Senior Product Manager at Hinge Health (AB Computer Science ‘19)
- Celena Tyler, Product Manager at Meta (AB Literature ‘14, MBA Stanford ’20)
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.”
- Want to learn more? Join the mailing list!
- Want the highlights? Follow them on Instagram: @harvard.product
- Explore the website: https://www.hcsproductlab.org/
- Check out the copy of tonight’s slides.
Additional PM Resources:
- Read more about entry level PM opportunities.
- Check out the APM List for a list 😊 of APM programs and PM internships.
- Another list of PM openings– https://www.apmseason.com/
- Review PM interview questions or take a course on Exponent. This resource was recommended by our panelist, Celena.
- Read Cracking the PM Interview. Another recommended book is Decode and Conquer.
- Check out MCS Firsthand Advisers to connect with other alums in the product field.