Name: Alexei White
Occupation: Product Manager
Place of Residence: Vancouver, BC
Employer: Nitobi Software
What's the gig?
White is responsible for planning and implementing the marketing for Nitobi's software products. White conducts market research, writes marketing copy, drafts proposals and assists with public relations. “I do everything necessary to connect our capabilities as a company to market demand,” says White. Occasionally, he is also able to work on the products themselves—doing mock-ups, writing documentation or code. White also must keep a close eye on his datebook in order to ensure that he stays on top of commitments and deadlines.
Having websurfing skills and knowing how to download the latest episode of “Grey's Anatomy” is not enough to make it. It is important to be interested in web development. “I think to be good in this role, it’s important to have a technical background and an interest in marketing,” says White. “It’s also really important to have an entrepreneurial mindset. These are not 9 am - 5 pm jobs. I was always really interested in web development and had done it semi-professionally for the IT department at [the University of British Columbia] and as a private consultant." White also got some credentials with a Bachelor's in Commerce from the University of British Columbia.
Who is the boss?
White works within a small team and reports to the president who directs most of the company's activity. White says that he is able to work as part of a close-knit team, without being micro-managed. “The very nature of my job is to be creative about how we can build and market successful products in a very competitive environment,” says White. “Getting out into the field and attending conferences and events to talk to our target users directly helps with this. It helps take some of the guess work out, and gives me some ideas about how to package and sell our products.”
Why you want this job:
In addition to having some free reign within the company, White can oversee the intriguing process of creating new products. “The most interesting thing about what I do is being able to see a product concept through from inception to market,” says White. “Being involved in every step of the process is really satisfying, especially when I feel we’ve done a good job and customers get in line to buy.” With his skills and expertise, White can also undertake offshoot projects. He sometimes gets the chance to write for trade magazines and recently contributed to a book for a major publisher about the technology Nitobi works with.
Why you might not want this job:
It is very important to be comfortable dealing with customers on a constant and consistent basis. A good product manager should be good at corralling a very active email inbox. Corresponding with customers keeps White very busy and he usually spends at least two hours writing internal and external emails. “I try to do most of my email at the beginning and end of the day, but in reality, I am answering email all day long as things come in,” says White. “I’ll also field a number of phone calls from customers, which may require some follow-up. In all I probably spend between two and five hours a day dealing with these kinds of tasks.”
How to get this job:
“If you’re interested in joining a Web2.0 firm I think it’s key to demonstrate a personal interest and aptitude for the technology and industry, whether you are a software engineer or a marketing person,” says White. “Get involved in Web2.0 community projects or participate somehow in your free time, and use that to back up your work history or academic qualifications.”
How geeky is it?
“Our team loves technology and our people could be considered quite ‘geeky’ from a know-how perspective, but they’re also a bunch of clowns. That dynamic makes it a lot of fun to come into work every day – or head out at night sometimes and raise some hell,” says White.
Talk the talk:
Web2.0 is considered simply a buzzword by some, or the second coming by others. Essentially, it represents the emergence of a more expanded web with exciting software and services popping up on a regular basis. Read about how it all got started at O'Reilly.com.
Walk the walk:
White suggests taking introductory courses in .NET, Java, and PHP. "Taking classes is great, but at the same time there's very little you can't learn by taking an interest and trying to teach yourself," says White.