I have a cross-stitch of David Bowie - as Ziggy Stardust - on my desk. For the longest time, I couldn't tell you why I was a David Bowie fan. Before I knew many of his songs, I just liked him as an artist and entertainer. It wasn't until later his persona of being unapologetically himself - especially when he didn't seem to fit in - clicked with me. And later still when I realized his constant reinvention, not for the sake of change, but the desire for self-exploration really hooked me as a Bowie fan. That cross-stitch is a daily reminder that change is good and necessary if you want to experience new things.
In 2021 I found myself on a journey of career reinvention. I've worked at Ramsey Solutions for nearly 7 years and all but the last three months have been with the Marketing department. The last twelve months have been a space oddity (see what I did there?) of thinking about, exploring the possibility of, and finally joining the Product Management team.
I feel like product came looking for me as much as I went looking for it.
From my first days at Ramsey, I spent a lot of time with my sales team listening to calls. How else would I know how to market to them, I reasoned? We talk about how unique our company is because our CEO spends three hours every day talking to customers. It only made sense that I should spend at least as much time with our salespeople who spend all day, every day talking to my specific customers.
A theme of it just making sense emerged and has given me the confidence to wade into this wild world of product. In my first discussion about moving to product with our Senior Technology Officer, he mentioned someone's background and experience didn't matter nearly as much as the principles of product "just clicking" with someone. As I looked back over my career so far, a thread of applying product principles was there even though I didn’t have the language or frameworks of product thinking; I was just kind of doing it already without realizing it.
It wasn’t until reading Marty Cagan’s Inspired and then Empowered that I put those pieces together. I wanted to work on a team and for a company that operated that way. So, I started implementing the principles and practices of an empowered product team with my marketing squad. I read more books and articles on product thinking, empowered teams, and objectives & key results (OKRs). It was its own product iteration; I would learn something new and go try it out with the team. And I found that I really enjoyed working that way.
By the time I decided to pursue a move to product, the conversations with leadership were easy. I explained how I had always wanted to focus our marketing efforts on retaining current customers as much as acquiring new ones. I had traveled to visit customers. I always found time to support our relationship management team when our customers needed something.
I had always fought to improve our customers’ experience in our product. To provide more value to them - not just try to acquire more of them.
In short, I loved them.
Every leader I spoke with agreed because they had seen me act this way for years. It was in a lot of ways the job I was already doing, I just needed to make it official by moving to the product team and have the permission to exclusively focus on that work.
"Turn and face the strange," Bowie sings. I'm a High I, Type 7, Extrovert. I like new. I enjoy change, much less fear it. Still, this move to product has been a big one. It's hard and it's humbling because I know I have so much to learn. And I'm so grateful I work at a place that allows this kind of career exploration and development.
We talk a lot about getting the right people on the bus at Ramsey, meaning people who belong here. People who believe the things we believe and want to transform lives by providing hope to everyone. Besides getting the right people on the bus, we also seek to get them in the right seat on the bus. I've been on the bus for a while and now it feels like I'm in the right seat.
Looking for a seat on our bus? We're always looking for great product-thinking people to join our team, from the inexperienced to established product people leaders.Check out our openings HERE.