Prosperity In Product Management

Popular prejudice often says that a good salary comes at the expense of job satisfaction. But Dain Berrett, outgoing president of BYU’s Product Management Association, argues that isn’t always the case. Berrett, a second-year MBA student, says studies show product managers enjoy one of the best combinations of job satisfaction and salary of any profession. And, with the tech industry continuing to grow, the need for professionals to bridge the gap between product development and consumers is increasing as well.

“Engineers are really good at writing code that solves technical needs, and customers are good at telling what their pain points are—those problems they want solved,” Berrett says. “A product manager talks to both these groups to create product solutions at a high level that the company can implement.”

Berrett previously worked in product management for library software provider SirsiDynix in Lehi, Utah, before entering the MBA program; this May, he’ll start work as a senior product manager at Amazon. He and club leadership, including president-elect Derek Egan, a first-year MBA student, have led the way in promoting the field at BYU.

“On any given day there are roughly five thousand available product manager positions,” Egan says. “There is a huge hiring binge in the tech industry for product managers because tech companies recognize how critical this skill set is to their success. That’s great news for anyone looking for a job—whether that person is graduating with a bachelor’s or a master’s degree.”

However, product management is still a relatively young field. The Marriott School professors are incorporating elements of the discipline into classes, but much of BYU students’ exposure to the career is currently through the association.

“Our MBA program focuses on giving an exemplary foundation in marketing, but with product management you need to understand more than that,” says Jeff Larson, marketing associate professor and advisor to the association. “The Product Management Association provides the opportunity students need to understand additional skills required for these jobs.”

As part of the effort to train students, the association’s executive team recently orchestrated a real-world product management experience though a case competition sponsored by Find.com, a Utah startup that wanted to improve its configured search engine. The company offered $2,000 in prize money to encourage students to develop the best solution.

“We wanted students to have product management on their résumés, because that’s been a barrier during the interview process for some of my colleagues,” Egan says. “We have now seen students put the case competition on their résumés and LinkedIn profiles, which is exactly what we were hoping for.”

Ultimately, Berrett and Egan are pushing the association to continue to increase awareness and preparedness among BYU students.

“Our MBA students are fantastic and capable of excelling in product management,” Berrett says. “This line of work is an incredible opportunity for our Marriott School students, especially given our prime location to so many strong, fast-growing tech companies.”

Anyone interested in the joining the association can contact Derek Egan at degan@byu.net.