Engineering and Product
Callum Rowe, Product manger at AskNicely
A self-confessed nerd with a natural draw towards buttons, levers and knobs, Callum Rowe, Product Manager at AskNicely has found a place working in tech that combines his passion for building things and his other love of developing relationships.
We caught up with Callum to learn more about his journey into working in tech, what he loves about working in Product, some of the common misconceptions about the role as well as some sage advice as to how people might get started in the tech industry faster.
Thanks for sharing you story, Callum.
Firstly, how would you explain to a five year old what it is you do?
“See your toy dinosaur over there? Well someone built it, someone else made it green and a Product Manager decided it should be a dinosaur.”
And for the adults, what does that translate to in regards to your day-to-day?
I work with engineers, designers, marketers & our customers on a day-to-day basis asking and answering questions like; what could we solve and what’s the solution? What are we building and why? When can we sell this and how does it work? How did that go and what did we learn?
I help figure out answers to these questions, make decisions where needed and sell everyone else on ‘why’ we’ve gone the way we’ve gone. That looks like meetings, deep thought work, and plenty of writing and sketching.
“Working in Product is personally satisfying, but we have to hustle hard, put ourselves on the line, and sometimes annoy and disappoint.”
What are some of the common misconceptions about working in Product?
It’s not a glorious job. Working in Product is personally satisfying, but we have to hustle hard, put ourselves on the line, and sometimes annoy and disappoint. Also, when Product does well, it’s the other teams that hit their deadlines and achieve their goals publicly and more obviously.
Was working in tech something you dreamed about doing as a kid, if not what was?
Not specifically working in tech, but definitely working with tech. I was always a bit of a nerd, but I like building relationships as well as things. As a kid I liked anything with buttons and levers and knobs.
I thought along the lines of being a pilot or a radio announcer or audio engineer (to name a few). I guess I just never foresaw those buttons and levers and knobs being entirely digital, but here I am in SaaS.
Tell us a little bit more about your career journey and ultimately about how you ended up working at AskNicely?
After studying business at university, my first job was working on projects as an analyst in an organisation tied to rigid planning and waterfall development. I grew out of that and I moved into a role with a consulting firm that exposed me to a number of companies, industries and roles; and introduced me to product management as a craft.
I took a step into tech and I’ve found it’s an environment where I am challenged, I get some wins & I get to work with awesome people all doing our best to move in the same direction.
“Tech is an innovative field full of really clever people solving problems, which means that there is always a lot to learn.”
What do you think are some of the benefits of working in tech?
Tech is an innovative field full of really clever people solving problems, which means that there is always a lot to learn. It’s a satisfying field for curious people, the work is interesting and modern and can also be extremely flexible.
Tech companies also tend to try to focus more on providing vision, clarity and the tools people need to work rather than focusing on managing people’s throughput and minimising the costs of employing them.
“People enter tech with all sorts of diverse backgrounds which means there is no one right way to get into a tech career.”
Do you have any advice for people considering tech as a career path and how they might get there quicker?
Keep up-to-date with a wide range of news, thought-leadership and wins/failures in not only the tech industry, but the adjacent industries that the companies and consumers that buy the tech products you find interesting.
Be curious and look for opportunities to learn about the jobs that exist and the people currently doing them. People enter tech with all sorts of diverse backgrounds which means there is no one right way to get into a tech career.
Try to become a “t-shaped person”; someone who understands a wide range of topics generally, while also deeply understanding one topic where you can create value (your ‘craft’).
“I like the people I get to work with every day.”
What is it specifically that you like about working AskNicely?
I like the people I get to work with every day. Our team is split across three continents but we’re tight-knit, we have fun and we’re all good at what we do. I enjoy every day getting to work with the clever, creative, fun people at AskNicely.
Lastly, AskNicely continues to grow and evolve. What kind of candidates do you think AskNicely is looking for in terms of experience, attitude and character?
We’re trying to build a new class of software focusing on a traditionally analogue industry with deeply-embedded culture and processes. We have a number of gnarly challenges to solve for our customers; the solutions to which lie in our product, our sales, marketing and community-building efforts as well as our customer success practices.
Across all of those areas the candidates I think AskNicely need are problem solvers, people who are curious, agile and responsive. We are also a company built on feedback so we strive to be open, honest and constructive in working with each other.