Don’t Climb Someone Else’s Career Ladder

You don’t always have to follow the path in front of you

Robert Drury
Getting Started in Product

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I listened to a talk by Susana Lopes from the 2023 Mind The Product conference, entitled “Embracing a dual-track career ladder in product”, during which she discusses the fact that the standard career path (shown below in a slide from the talk) doesn’t have to be one that you follow.

This is someone else’s career ladder. This doesn’t have to be yours.

I wholeheartedly agree with this opinion.

Let me explain why …

My careers

I suppose product management can be considered my third different career.

I left school and played professional sports until injury put an end to that.

Then following a period of education, I became a cinema manager, running multiplex cinemas that included shops, cafes, and thousands of customers every week.

Finally, I got into the world of software development and onto the role I’m in now.

My working life has not been one direct ladder, where I’ve moved up from role to role, gradually becoming more senior, earning more money, and heading toward retirement.

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Robert Drury
Getting Started in Product

Helping people kick start their product management career with product coaching, job application prep, & resources at gettingstartedinproduct.substack.com