Name: Matt Deakins

Job Title: Product manager at Yumpingo, a tech start up that gathers restaurant feedback from customers.

My position in a nutshell… My aim is to understand our clients (restaurants) and what they want, so that I can work with my team, and in particular the developers, to prioritise and build a platform that meets their requirements.

How I got the job… I initially planned to study medicine, so focused on the sciences at A level but I felt that it wasn’t quite the right fit, took a gap year and decided to rethink my career plans. In the meantime, I started a job at an insurance company, where I stayed for six years – a little longer than I’d expected – but I got to move around the company and try out different roles, meaning I gained a lot of experience, including some programming. Ultimately however, I knew that I wouldn’t work in insurance forever because I wanted to work in something I was truly passionate about, so I decided to study an MBA (Masters in Business Administration), to diversify my skillset, learn about other industries and take the next step in my career. Which led me to where I am now, working in the restaurant industry, focused on tech and driving insight to help people enjoy better food and service.

My typical day… Starts about 9am, with a team meeting. It’s a chance for everyone to share what they are working on and raise any issues I need to know about, because part of my role is to ensure that everyone has what they need to get their job done. My work is varied, some days I’ll be interviewing clients to get feedback on the app, other days I’ll be looking at data to identify opportunities for development and working with designers and developers to evolve the app.

My most memorable moment… Finishing the MBA and being able to move in to my current role.

The worst part of my job… Unfortunately, I have to say ‘no’ sometimes – people come to me with lots of ideas and I have to be able to prioritise. It can be disheartening when your ideas are not taken forward, so I ensure that the decision-making process is transparent and communicate openly with my colleagues.

The best part of my job… Is seeing something go live and reach the hands of customers. It’s really rewarding to see people enjoying the product you worked so hard on getting right.

Advice / key skills needed for anyone wanting to become a product developer… You’ve got to be able to communicate well with a wide range of audiences and be able to empathise with your end customer to understand their needs. Also, you need a sense of curiosity so that you can dig deeper in to problems and looking to solve them both logically and creatively.  

What you can do right now to learn more about a career in product development…

Do your research. I spend a lot of time reading about different tools and practices and continuously learn about the field of product management using Medium – a central portal for lots of different blog posts. Try searching phrases like ‘intro to product management’ or ‘different roles in product management’. You can also speak to people already working in the industry and ask for support and advice. LinkedIn is a great for this and most people will be willing to help.

Try and think about which industry you would like to work in, as product management will look very different in a goods company, likea toy company where you will be looking at the manufacturing operations and design of the toy, compared to where I am, dealing with agile software development. Look up a few organisations online to see how they describe product management.