Are you thinking about experimentation too narrowly?
Working in experimentation is one of the strongest and most versatile career skill sets. It has transferable skills and experience that overlap into many adjacent career paths that include Product Management (PM). Alexandra Resnick has done just that, using the skills built in experimentation to transition into a senior product role at AB InBev as Product Manager, B2B2C.
We spoke with Alexandra to learn more about her career journey and the transition from experimentation to product management.
How has your background in Experimentation helped you as a Product Manager?
Product Managers with a background in experimentation will have spent a lot of time in product analytics platforms, conducted qualitative and/or quantitative research, and are inquisitive. Asking good questions is what really helps a PM build better products. What I love about experimentation culture is that you get to question everything and celebrate the unknown. I’m very lucky to have worked in organizations where leadership prioritizes experimentation.
Working in an environment where a culture of experimentation is present will also help nurture the skills needed to be an effective PM. My experimentation background has taught me to be discerning, strategic, and communicative, all skills that are critical to being a strong product manager.
What sort of training does someone need to become a Product Manager?
There is a common misconception that you need to go to business school to become a product manager. While I’m very grateful for my MBA experience, most business programs don’t teach ‘product’; 70% of my learning has been on the job.
If you’re the kind of person who can’t sleep until their to-do list is completed, maybe a PM role isn’t for you. One of the biggest learning curves upon starting my new role was realizing that I would never be caught up on my to-do list. That was super difficult to work through. But priorities can shift day to day, and your job as a PM is to constantly reprioritize and reshuffle in order to get the most important tasks done.
There’s a high barrier to entry for product roles. Where you’ll get the best training is in adjacent roles that flex the same skills. I wasn’t in a formal PM role until I joined AB InBev, but my past positions all required me to have strong product sense and to constantly wear a PM hat. I was talking to customers, understanding pain points, and using that data to improve products. If you’re doing the same in your role, regardless of whether that’s sales, marketing, or another function, then you can be a PM.
I’m very fortunate that my current manager really appreciated my A/B testing background and valued the transferable skill set to become a successful PM.
Do you have any tips for people trying to transition from an experimentation role to a product management role?
Yes! So we just spoke about transferable experience being valuable in the transition to PM. What worked for me in my job hunt was a mix of networking, and truly knocking my resume out of the park. I met with a lot of product leaders to understand what they look for in an applicant, and from there I learned how to optimize my resume to catch recruiters’ attention. My bullet points were written in a style that applied my experience to PM activities.
And product interviews can be scary! You might have a panel interview, have to do opportunity sizing, and being nervous definitely doesn’t help. But this is your time to shine! You get to speak to the work you’ve been doing and the value you’ve been adding over the years. Once I learned the STAR method (situation, task, action, result), interviews became a lot simpler, and I was less nervous speaking about my own trajectory.
How about the reverse – what would your advice be for Product Managers wanting to increase their utilization of experimentation?
When bringing A/B Testing into a product environment, sometimes it can be challenging to bring certain test ideas to fruition due to other business priorities. This has been my biggest challenge as of late. I’m building a new product so my current challenge is not yet having the user base and sample size to begin running experiments.
Through this product development process, I’ve been taking note of potential experiments we can run down the road, so when we’re in the position to start testing, we’ll have a roadmap that can easily be prioritized and executed.
Looking back, I worked really hard to build experimentation programs for well-known brands. Having this knowledge and understanding, I’m better equipped to solve business problems through technology and it has been super fulfilling. My experimentation background has truly helped me be the best PM I could be, and a strong asset to my company.
Alexandra Resnick is a Product Manager at AB inBev where she works on different product verticals, both in existing products, and nurturing new ones from their inception.
Want to learn more about how leaders like Alexandra are creating growth through experimentation? Check out Conversion’s latest experimentation study: Maximum impact: How digital experimentation leaders are doing more with less.