Ask Women in Product: How do I plan my Product Management career?

Photo by KoysoStudio via Twenty20

Answer from Whitney Doyle

Manage your career like you would manage your product

Start with your big-picture vision

Determine where you are today

Create your Career Roadmap with SMART goals

  • Identify the nearest and shortest-term goal. What do you want to accomplish in the next 6 months? For example, in my PM Career roadmap, my first six-month goal was to:
First six-month goal: Harness my brand. Become more confident in my voice. Grow my network of supporters.
  • What would you like to accomplish by the end of 12 months? Mine was:
Goal for the first 12 months: Fully master Project Management skills at the ticket level and know it like the back of my hand
  • What about the 18 months that follow? Assuming you have achieved the first two goals, what would you like to tackle in the following 18 months? That milestone in my PM Career was:
  • Talk to colleagues in the role that you want to achieve. Ask them about their career path, what they wish they could have done differently, what they learned along the way.
  • Seek out mentors who are doing what you see as your big-picture goal; ask them for advice.
  • Keep in mind that hardly any two career paths are the same, so don’t be afraid to forge your own path and create your own roadmap!
Whitney’s five-year career roadmap

What if I don’t yet have a big-picture vision?

Develop your professional brand

  • Ask your colleagues and managers past and present for feedback on what they appreciated the most about working with you on a recent project.
  • Listen for common phrases or themes from the feedback.
  • If you haven’t built up a lot of work experience yet, pick a role model and identify what it is about them that you admire most. What traits do you also have or would like to strive for in your professional brand?
  • Try that brand out for size. Does it feel right? Does it feel forced? If it doesn’t feel natural, make some adjustments or fine-tune it.
  • Routinely check in with yourself to assess if your actions are reflecting your brand. If they aren’t, then change your actions or modify your brand to be more accurate.

Nurture your network

Further Reading




A global community of women working in Product Management.

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Women in Product

Women in Product

A global community of women working in Product Management.

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