Career Story: Product Manager For A Telecommunications Company

Product Manager For A Telecommunications Company

Job Title: Product Marketing Manager

Type of Company: I work for a global company that manufactures cell phones, mobile radios, data communication products, and access telecom products.

Education: BS, Electrical Engineering, UMass-Lowell •• MS, Electrical Engineering, Clemson University

Previous Experience: I started as a Technical Support Engineer for a telecommunications company. I later moved into product management for that same company. I then joined a small telecom start-up as a product manager/technical marketing director. My company was acquired by a large telecom company where I continued to work in product management, and customer marketing.

Job Tasks: My primary responsibility is to assist the sales team in responding to "Request for Proposals" and product quotes.

In my industry, customers make a long term investment when they buy a product and they want to be sure that what they buy is what they need: that it meets their quality standards; that they can get enough of it and that the company that makes it will be around in case anything breaks. They're looking for high-quality service and a fair price. A company that buys from us may be planning on spending a billion dollars over five to ten years and, in connection with that outlay, they will often expect to spend millions of dollars for employee training. So, before they buy anything they issue a "request for proposal" -- an RFP -- which may be as small as ten pages or as large as a thousand; they typically give us three to four weeks to complete it. They may issue this RFP to a handful of companies or as many as twenty. Over a period of two to twelve months, depending on the size of the deal, the customer will evaluate the responses it gets and determine which vendors are invited to meet with them and respond to more detailed questions.

My personal responsibility is to answer all of the pricing questions in the RFP. In essence, the RFP usually provides a complicated model of what the customer's network will look like over several years and asks us to price each component required. In addition to completing the pricing section, I also create an internal document for my company to determine if we would like to win the business. This document is known as a "business case." And in some of these cases we may decide it makes sense to sell a product below cost at the outset, in order to win the business, if we can make substantial amounts of money in years 3, 4, and 5.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of the job is I work with a highly educated, talented group of individuals. Everyone understands the complicated nature of the business and the effort required to win a customer. Also, each customer has their own uniqueness which makes each project slightly different.

The worst part of the job is sometimes I must work late and there is no control over the workflow. Many times multiple projects are being worked on at the same time and each sales team wants their project worked on first.

Job Tips: Almost every industry requires product managers, but working as a product manager in telecommunications or data communications is the best. So get a technical education, like a BS in engineering or a BS in computer science. Work first as an engineer in a large company to understand the flow of information in a large company and to become educated in how large companies make products for other large companies. While at this large company seek a product management position. Learn this profession well and now you will be able to move into other large or small companies if desired.

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