CBC Digital Labs
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CBC Digital Labs

Crossing Over Into A New Career Stream At CBC

The Digital Strategy & Product department of CBC is committed to providing their people with the support they need to build their development plans to foster career growth and progression. By taking on exciting new roles, individuals are able to experience and learn other aspects of the business, broaden their perspectives, and acquire new skills and competencies. The series Jumping Across Career Streams at CBC invites people who have taken the courageous leap to tell the story of their journey, highlighting the support they received and opportunities discovered along the way.

Are you a Software Developer working in a Product Development team?

Have you ever felt like you are ready for Product Ownership or Product Management? I’ve been there multiple times in my 12 year career at the CBC.

Here are 6 tips that helped me cross over into a new career stream.

Tip #6: Do a gap analysis of your skills and competencies

Start building the bridge to cross into a new career stream one skill at a time (Photo By: Richard Loa)

The problem sets, skills and competencies from Software Developer and Product Manager are really different. On top of that, the flavours can vary based on the industry, company and whether the team is a physical or digital product based team. Marty Cagan can give you a good start on how to assess yourself.

Tip #5: Remember to learn in the interview

Don’t forget to focus on your learning at an interview (Photo By: Richard Loa)

Apply to Product Management positions that you feel under qualified for and be okay with failure because you are going to learn so much about yourself in the process.

A wise man once told me they love interviewing for jobs when I told them interviewing for jobs made me nervous. The wise man said that the interview is three things:

  1. The hiring manager markets/sells the job to the candidate
  2. The candidate markets/sells their skill set and competencies to the hiring manager
  3. They need you as much as you need them

Most candidates focus on marketing their skills and competencies to the hiring manager way too much. Don’t forget that the interview is your chance to learn about the Product team and their nuances, such as;

  • Team culture, mission, vision
  • Daily operations & autonomy of team members
  • Problem space & technology stack
  • Role composition & head count
  • Standards & processes
  • Addressable segments/audience, personas, and measurement of success

Tip #4: Find and train your potential successors

Together you can both get closer to your goals via learning (Photo By: Richard Loa)

Find a set of colleagues and teach them your specialized domain knowledge and make sure your reporting manager knows about this exercise via the annual goals that the two of you set.

Very early in my career I made the mistake of trying to keep domain knowledge to myself because I had been taught at an early age that “knowledge is power”. This was a recipe for staying stagnant.

If I wanted the space to learn new skills for the next stage of my career, then somebody else was going to have to do some of the tasks I was usually responsible for. It took me way too long to realize that it was mutually beneficial for my colleagues to learn something new and grow so that I could too.

Tip #3: Establish a working relationship with the Product Manager currently filling the role you want

Find the balance to make the relationship mutually beneficial (Photo By: Richard Loa)

This tip works a lot better if you are already part of the Product Team of that Product Manager or Product Owner. More often than not, I see colleagues cold applying to vacant Product positions. Although this is fine and success is possible I think there is an opportunity that is being left on the table.

An awesome way to get a taste of the day in the life of the Product Manager or Product Owner and getting that experience you thirst for is to offer taking meeting minutes or facilitate a meeting. You won’t want to do this for all the meetings because you still have your software development tasks to do. Choose wisely and try to get exposure to meetings where there are attendees you don’t normally get to work with.

Tip #2: Get a mentor or coach

It’s a long and winding path but you can get there with the right support system (Photo By: Richard Loa)

Find somebody in addition to your reporting manager to support you in your career development. It does not have to be one person. It can be a network of people.

The idea here is that you want a support network of people that are going to challenge you along the way without the clout of monetary compensation. I can count so many times that I’ve fallen off the wagon and broken career development promises to myself. Sometimes I need that extra nudge to keep me on track. I bet you do too.

Tip #1: Start preparing now

Create the pathway to success piece by piece (Photo By: Richard Loa)

You never know when a colleague will have to leave the organization. Be at the ready and don’t wait for the position to be available to start preparing. It will put you in a panic when the position becomes available or worse it will discourage you from even applying because you will feel under qualified. This has happened to me way too many times. Start today!

To join our teams at CBC, check out our current openings here.




Telling stories about who we are, what we are doing, what we are learning, and how we are making decisions as we work to create the best possible experiences for Canadians in digital spaces.

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Richard Loa

Richard Loa

Analytics and Search Product Owner, Digital Operations, CBC

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