Senior PM to Director in 3 months with a Product Management Coach

Emma Yee was a Senior Product Manager at a fast-growing Los Angeles software company. She was looking to improve some PM skill gaps, get help identifying blind spots, and ultimately get promoted. She hired Kareem as a Product Management coach. A few months later Emma became Director of Product Management.

Emma says:

“I wanted to improve several key skills for being a great product manager: stakeholder management, cross-team communication, requirement writing, MVP scoping, and managing team expectations. I love product management as a career and wanted to be the best product manager to help my product, team, and company succeed. A promotion would be nice, but more importantly I was looking for a decrease in stress in day-to-day life.”

Emma was keen to level up as a Product Manager and eventually get promoted. But she was also looking to understand how to better operate as a PM to have a less stressful day-to-day routine.

She had looked into books and blogs. But the advice was all too general or she had to dig through tons of information to find a few gems - she didn’t want to spend any more time digging through resource. She wanted a coach with the expertise to help her get to the next level with a minimal time investment. She did have a few other mentors who could give her advice, but the frequency of calls she needed went beyond the mentor-mentee relationship.

“Books and blogs worked great the first few years of product as you are just learning general skills. Having mentors is always great, but not enough support to quickly upskill.”

After their initial conversation, it was clear to Emma that Kareem met her criteria for a coach:

“He had software product experience, experience working with different stages of company growth and product team maturity, and experience teaching product skills.”

Emma and Kareem had weekly calls, during which Emma would get outside perspectives on her Product Management challenges:

“I could bounce ideas off Kareem, get advice, and hear how he had faced similar challenges with perspective outside of your organization.”

Kareem helped Emma think through challenges like these:

  • Navigating issues with a third-party vendor
  • Working effectively with technical peers when you have responsibility but no authority
  • Running personal post-mortems on projects
  • Leaving work stress at work
  • Providing feedback on one-pagers
  • Navigating difficult conversations
  • Communication around new feature releases

She enjoyed working together:

“I trusted Kareem which I think its the most important part of finding a coach. Not only did he sign an NDA without hesitating, the anecdotes and examples he gave me were free from sensitive information, which made me feel comfortable opening up. Since future projects and roadmaps are highly confidential it was so refreshing to be able to freely discuss ideas with an outsider.”

Emma recommends working with Kareem:

“Kareem is completely focused on helping you. Even if you have an amazing boss who mentors you, they likely won’t have the time to mentor you frequently, as you’ll need to spend time together focusing on the success of your products. Having Kareem as a coach felt like having a super successful uncle in your field, who could give you veteran advice and had your best interests at heart. I don’t have any uncles in product - so I hired one.”

After just a few short months of working together, Emma achieved her goal of moving up to a new role and became a Director of Product Management.

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