Social media handle(s): LinkedIn
A few words about me:
I am a Product Manager at London Borough of Camden and a veteran Officer of the U.S. Air Force with a background in procurement, programme management, and product management.
My wife and I recently moved to London where I wanted to bring my experience in agile software development, continuous process improvement, and strategic planning to a governmental or non-governmental organisation.
Personally, I love to travel, anything health and fitness related, and sports.
Are there any professional experiences you've had that are quite unexpected compared to what you do nowadays?
Within the military, I was expected to take on many different roles in different departments. My first assignment in Germany ranged from contracts management to overseeing day-to-day business operations for 44 personnel and a $64MM acquisition program.
In addition, a Senior Non-Commissioned Officer and I were tasked with starting, organising, and scaling a Contingency Contracting Deployment Team resulting in an 18-person department leading contracting operations for 13 missions in 13 countries handling $15.6MM.
Is your background more STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) or non-STEM related?
Non-STEM - Political Science and General Business.
Where did your professional journey start?
Attending the US Air Force Academy, commissioned as an Officer, and receiving assignments for Contracting and Programme Management.
How did you get into tech and what motivated you?
My second assignment within the Air Force was at a software development factory (Kessel Run) based in Boston. What sparked my interest in this position was the Founder and Chief Executive at Kessel Run mentored me during my experience as a Research Assistant at the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU).
This organisation was spearheading Department of Defense and Silicon Valley technological integrations where I was exposed to the benefits of bringing private sector pace and technologies to enhance public sector operations. Without any prior software experience, I was placed as a Product Manager for a software team comprised of a UI/UX Designer and Developers.
It was a massive learning curve!! There were many discouraging days but this experience allowed me to grow as a person as well as broaden my professional capabilities that benefited me in future roles.
Have you experienced any 'career in tech' challenges / stereotypes?
From a non-tech background, working with Developers day to day that expected a Product Manager to dive into the code and technical details diminished trust in my team leadership.
"Walking into a technical world is scary coming from a non-technical background. Even though you may have a lot to learn about technical requirements, coding, and software development, lean into your skills that you are best at."
What you wish you knew before getting started in tech...
Be ready to learn but realise that everyone has a lot to learn. You will not understand all the technical requirements from Day 1 but be curious and find a good mentor to guide you through the process.
What has been your biggest 'wow!' moment related to working in tech so far?
My time at Amazon Studios. As part of my transition out of the US Air Force, I had the opportunity to participate in a Corporate Fellowship with Amazon Studios Technology.
I worked across both the Programme Management and Product Management teams which allowed me to tie the lower level development of different products to the overarching strategy of Amazon. We were at the cutting edge of machine learning, Virtual Production Studios, and audio/visual effects.
What do you like / not like about working in tech?
Like - challenging, ever changing, iterative development.
Dislike - lots of screen time, diving into the technical details and code, lack of "tangible" products for software teams.
"Be ready to learn ... be curious and find a good mentor to guide you through the process."
What's been your favourite / most memorable / funniest 'career in tech' moment so far?
My favourite aspect of being a Product Manager in tech is meeting with users. While most of my tech career is glued to a screen to produce software, sitting down with users to understand pain points, requirements, and where we could bring the most value is very rewarding.
As we launched the CRM product at Camden, we met with our Contact Centre to onboard and gather feedback. Their reactions to our genuine interest were amazing stating that they had never felt a part of the process and had their voices heard. Being able to engage with the users does not only create trust between the customer and software team, but also makes for a better product and service.
And to wrap up, is there any advice you'd like to give to others interested in a career in tech?
Walking into a technical world is scary coming from a non-technical background. Even though you may have a lot to learn about technical requirements, coding, and software development, lean into your skills that you are best at.
Tech teams benefit from great people management, organisational skills, and the ability to build quality relationships with customers and stakeholders.