Better Days - My First Month As An APM by Tigerlily Jagun-Howell
Tell us about yourself?
My name is Tigerlily and I am an Associate Product Manager based in the UK with a strong passion for product and technology - I really appreciate inventions that make everyday life more convenient! Prior to working product I came from a Criminal Justice background, and have always been very creative, which led me down the path I am on today.
What led you to a career in tech?
A conversation with my older brother who, might I add, is my absolute hero/mentor and go-to. When he mentioned, out of nowhere “you’d be a great product manager sis”, I immediately started to do my research on the role. At the time I was working for the MOJ as a Victim Liaison Officer but had previously worked within resettlement, probation and the law courts.
To cut a long story short, I believe that being the bearer of bad news on a daily basis really assisted in my motivation for change. Utilising my Criminology degree was no longer enough. I started doing webinars on LinkedIn learning about product management, and applied for a career accelerator programme through mentorship delivered by Black Valley. I was one of forty selected from hundreds of applications - this symbolised my first “yes” - I was over the moon as everything started to fall into place!
At the time, I had no real idea of the importance of joining a community like Black Valley. It would be my turning point as I was now in the room with tech professionals, who all give their time and knowledge to assist people wanting to get into the industry. No request was too big, there was no hierachy, just a bunch of people trying to create an equal playing field. I loved the programme so much I started to volunteer immediately after it finished to give back in any way I could.
The feeling of accomplishment led me to start applying for jobs. The bubble quickly popped as it wasn’t easy, roles seemed like they were falsely advertised and came with many rejections. Until one day I was sent the Associate PM role at Moonpig on the Black Valley slack channel by a mentor. Finally, I found a role that didn’t require any experience, just a genuine passion and interest in tech! The stars had begun to align! What made a huge difference to me this time around was the mentor taking their time to think of me and act on it when they saw this role advertised. I applied for the job, took my time with the preparation, reached out to mentors who guided and encouraged me throughout. It felt like a dream, with every stage there was feedback from the recruiters who also cheered me on. After four rounds I was offered the job and if I am honest I think those dates will remain in my head forever like birthdays do.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Oooooo the juicy bits! So I have the greatest manager who has really prepared a great foundation through my onboarding process at Moonpig as everything Julia has done is intentional. I start the day by leading the team stand up - I have named each day of the week (I kick off the meeting by reminding the team of the type of day we are manifesting - for eg. Thriving Thursdays).
I am currently writing a learning journal documenting my experience on a daily basis, so I create my to-do list and highlight my intentions for the day.
At the beginning of the day, the team usually hold workshops to collaborate on work, planning and refining initiatives together, so I’ve been attending these to start getting more involved with the day to day work. One of them is called “working out loud” . I really enjoy this workshop as we talk through design, research and strategy. It is really engaging, is a safe space that promotes learning and where stupid questions don’t exist. Currently myself and another associate (a product designer) are collaborating with the research team on some market research and I cannot wait to see what the findings bring.
I also try to contribute to mini projects with the associates to really put to work our learnings so far. I will generally attend a few workshops hosted by the other disciplines within the business, my favourite so far is the Agile roundabout where we discuss the current hot topics, the last one was based on the five dysfunctions of a team.
On this journey I am not alone so it is really nice when I get to catch up with the other APMs and share our experiences.
I have also learnt the importance of time-boxing sessions for my self-paced learning and have begun doing the PM foundation course by Reforge!
Lastly, I like to close the day with focus time to really digest all of the new information I have received and write up any questions I have in my journal.
Advice to your younger self?
You can do it, don’t be afraid, stop procrastinating, tell others what you are trying to do, ask questions and join a community.
If you could invite anyone to join the Black Valley community, who and why?
Michelle Obama as she is one of the most powerful and celebrated women today. She is someone who is influential, is a strong advocate of human rights, she promotes female empowerment and has been a driving force on encouraging young people to complete their education past secondary school in the US. I believe her reach would do amazing things for Black Valley and she would be a perfect evangelist to encourage continued learning regardless of age, gender, class or race.
My experience as an APM has been filled with consistent “pinch me” moments at Moonpig, learning has never been so fun! So if you are contemplating transitioning into tech, be brave and do it.