Job Title: Product Manager
Type of Company: My company offers a variety of health insurance products, primarily to employees through their employers, but directly to individuals and retirees as well.
Education: BA, Government, Bowdoin College MBA, Duke University
Previous Experience: I was a product manager at a natural personal care company and a program manager for a pharmaceutical reimbursement company.
Job Tasks: I train co-workers, employees and employers to help them understand how these insurance products work. I help create written and multi-media materials that describe the products. I make improvements in the products and analyze sales numbers to see where we're successful (so that we know what we're doing right) and where we're not successful (so that we can apply the success lessons there).
Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of the job is that I have a lot of authority, so that when I see something that needs to be improved or fixed, people listen to me and respond. Another benefit is that I achieve a high level of satisfaction when the products work well and I learn about people whom we help.
The worst part of the job is that I have to prioritize my work and focus, and sometimes I can't do things that really need to be done because there are more important things to do first.
Job Tips: You really need to want to help people. If you do, that'll help sustain you when the job seems overwhelming, because you know that people will benefit from your work.
You need to be able to communicate effectively: writing, speaking and (most importantly for this or almost any other job or aspect of your life) LISTENING.
You must be able to look at numbers and make sense of them. You need basic math skills and a sharp mind to analyze why the numbers are what they are and what lessons you can apply to other areas.
Additional Thoughts: Regardless of the field you enter, spend between half an hour and an hour EVERY DAY working on YOU: learning more about your profession, improving your general skills, building on your strengths, working on your weaknesses enough to neutralize them.
The most important qualities for success are not "business" skills. They're things like a strong work ethic, a cooperative attitude, a positive attitude and honesty. If you don't have those as a cornerstone, all the communication and analytical skills aren't going to help you achieve success.
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