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Why did I switch from engineering to product manager?

8 months ago, I give up coding full time and become a product manager at Milieu Insight. Looking back, it took me a while to make the decision. Was it right?

I wrote about my early day of product manager here and here.

Photo by NESA by Makers on Unsplash

Approaching my 8 full months without full-time coding, I reflected on my choice and decided to share what has changed in my life. Maybe it might influence someone else to switch or not to switch?

A little bit of myself

After leaving my own startup, I become a full-time developer in a consultancy firm. I then move on to lead developer in a B2B company that specializes in building custom warehouse inventory system that is deployed in China. I then got promoted to a sister company and become a technical lead to kickoff a FinTech startup.

In total, I spent 7 years being a full-time engineer. Every day I step into the office, open my laptop and begin to code. Although as I move to become a technical lead, I am involved in more meeting, those are usually still very much related to the technical aspect of things.

Then about 8 months ago, I decided to make the switch to become a product manager.

Journey without code

Looking back, these 8 months have been really exciting for me. As I go deeper into the product manager role, I code lesser and lesser. From committing code every day to not committing any code the entire week. In the beginning, it feels good. I no longer get tied to the product timeline that required me to code every day.

However, as weeks goes by, a part of me feel that something is missing. This feel like a kind of withdrawal syndrome that kicks into my job. I start getting upset about work. Someday, I feel that I like to be part of the engineering team to solve the difficult challenge and not have so much meeting.

I feel that at some point, my intellectual curiosity is not being satisfied. There are days where my developers got stuck in an interesting problem. I like to jump right in to help, but knowing very well that I can’t do that as it required many focus hours that I can’t afford to sacrifice.

What get me up in the morning?

Despite all this, I am excited to wake up every day. Despite not being able to work on the technical challenges, I found out that there are a couple of things that drive and excite me.

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

I am excited about being able to plan the next iteration of the feature. I am also able to use my experience to communicate better with the engineers and thus take lesser iteration to deliver features. I am extremely excited that I am able to define a strategy and work with everyone (design, marketing, content, engineer) to coordinate all the activities that required to bring the product to market.

I feel that the ability to define a product strategy and develop a roadmap to ship product really drive me forward!

It turns out that coding is more like a hobby for me now. If I have to choose between developing a product vs developing a strategy and roadmap for a product, I choose the latter.

I feel like I make the right choice. I am also glad that I make the switch.

If you ever thinking about leaving engineering, think about what excite you. Coding is usually not the main excitement but solving problem are. Putting away all the other condition like salary, company benefit and etc. Would solving a technical challenge drive and excite you more than the problem that your next job offer? I think this will bring you closer to an answer.

Thanks for reading! If you like it, please hold 👏

I am a technical product lead at Milieu Insight. At night, I am a maker, engineer, and designer. I enjoy learning and building new things about tech, products, and startup. You can find me on my blog or Twitter.

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