After spending 5 years working at Deloitte, Al Dea made the move from management consulting to become a Product Marketer at a tech company. In addition to working as a Product Marketing Manager, Al also is a career coach, he runs CareerSchooled, a career advice blog, and advises professionals including many consultants on career changes of their own. This first piece in his series of articles is based on his current role as a Product Marketing Manager.
Why did you choose to move on from consulting to a career in Tech and Product Marketing?
I joined Deloitte right after I graduated from college and I always had an idea that consulting was something that I wanted to do, but there were other things out there that I also wanted to try – so leaving for me was not “if” but “when?”. After 3 years of consulting, an MBA, and another 2 years I had done enough of it to appreciate the experiences and skills I got, but also had a much better sense of what I wanted out of my job and career trajectory, and felt like I had a better chance to achieve that outside of consulting and Deloitte.
The other thing that I realized was that while I was doing well, I was going down a path that I wasn’t sure was the path that I wanted to follow in order to achieve for my long-term career goal. I looked at the Senior Managers and Partners who were ahead of me, and upon talking with them and understanding their lives and aspirations I had a respect and appreciation for their path, but ultimately realized that mine was different. So, it made sense for me to start exploring other potential paths, ones that were more aligned to my own desires and aspirations.
Lastly, I got to a point where the tradeoffs I was making were starting to become more and more difficult for me. Every job has opportunity cost and trade-offs, and that’s just part of life. But I was growing frustrated and challenged with the trade-offs I was continuing to have to make, and I decided that it was time to change to a career that better aligned with my priorities. I still have to make tradeoffs now, but they are ones that I’m much more willing to make.
How did you go about figuring out what you wanted to do next?
First and foremost it started with
Next, I brought in a group of trusted advisors in my life for their advice, some of these were co-workers, others were mentors, friends, and former teachers. I created a 360 feedback survey and asked 10-15 people a set of questions to see their perspective of my strengths and skills. This was helpful to me as I then understood how others valued my skills and experiences, and helped inform my thinking of what strengths and skills I could use in my next role.
From there, it was time to research and network. As a career coach who advises individuals looking to make job transitions, I know that I am not the first nor last person wanting to make a career change, so I started by looking at other people who had made changes and tried to learn what they did and how they were successful.
I looked at sites like Movemeon, to get a better sense of what consultants do to transition into new roles. I had coffee chats with people in my network to understand what they did, why they liked what they did, and how they made their own transitions. I also spent time chatting with recruiters and talent professionals about how to best make a career change. All of these things helped me understand what I wanted to do next, and the things I needed to do in order to successfully make a career change.
What do you do now and what is your day like?
I’m a Product Marketing Manager at Salesforce. My job is to drive demand, awareness, and sales of our products, and to be a brand ambassador and evangelist for our products within my organization and externally in the market. In this role, I work with different groups within my organization (ex: sales, customer success, marketing operations, creative & design) so on most days I have meetings to check in on projects, report on a current status, or come to decisions to move projects forward. As the brand ambassador for my product, I also spend a lot of time internally educating and speaking about my product to various internal stakeholders about our product so that they can effectively position and sell it to customers. This often means delivering and speaking at training sessions, hosting internal webinars, or simply jumping on the phone to talk 1v1 to salespeople to answer their questions. In this instance, communication, telling a good story, and presentation skills (all honed as a consultant) have come in handy.
Externally, I work on projects that drive demand and awareness of our product. Whether that’s a marketing campaign for the upcoming quarter, hosting a webinar with a customer to help show the external world how our product helps customers be successful, or working on a big event like a conference. This also means I have to spend a fair amount of time on creative projects, like thinking about a new marketing campaign, coming up with the messaging around our new features we are launching, or coming up with a cool and engaging experience for an event. This role very much has times when I am deep in meetings, as well as times when I have to think creatively, which allows me to use both parts of my brain, which I really like.
What are some of the challenges in your new role?
Not working in client service definitely has given me more weekends back and certainly has meant fewer fire drills although they certainly still happen. But one thing that has been challenging is figuring out when to put work down. When I was in consulting, you put work down once the deliverable was complete or the project ended, and you knew exactly when that was. And while there are some big deadlines that are non-negotiable, working in
Another challenge has been the focus of working cross-functionally, something that I enjoy doing but can be challenging in a 35,000 person organisation. Deloitte was big (180,000 employees) but working on project teams make it feel small because you know everyone. Now, I’m constantly working on projects with people in different roles, teams geographies, etc, and trying to understand who everyone is, what their role is, what motivates/demotivates them, etc can be challenging.
Finally, and this isn’t anything new but prioritizing requests/demands can sometimes be challenging. In consulting, I was used to getting lots of requests, but they generally were from the same people (ex: your senior manager, engagement partner, etc) Now, as a Product Marketing Manager, I constantly get requests from people of different parts of the organisation. Most of them are valid and to varying degrees important, but knowing how to prioritise can be difficult, especially being new.
An event was hosted my Natwest called Growing inclusive leadership in Tech. The topic addressed was ‘Key ways to create a positive company culture’
We had the pleasure to co-organise a roundtable breakfast discussion with Learnitect. The topic for the day – Recruiting and Empowering Top Performers
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