I have been working in IT all my career (about 20 years). Over this time I have held the following roles:
- Support desk analyst
- Consultant Developer
- Supervisor Systems Development
- Technical Account Manager
- Development Manager
- Solutions Development Manager
- Project Manager
- Head of Product
I initially started working in Johannesburg, South Africa then moved to London, UK then to Vancouver, Canada then back to London then to Cape Town, South Africa.
I didn’t study IT or anything related, having completed a BCom at Wits University in South Africa in 1994. But I did write my first program while I was pretty young. I remember it to this day: it was a piano program on a ZX Spectrum 48k. It would make various sounds depending on what key you pressed on the keyboard. The program was written in BASIC and had a lot of “if INKEY$ then beep” involved.
What I have done over the years is combine this natural curiosity / ability to work with computers together with what I learned in University to build and work on various financial systems. I’m not a game developer as I’ve never been interested in that. I’m instead fascinated by the logic and structure of financial systems.
IT is a changing industry. There are probably industries in which you can get started then do the same thing throughout your career but IT is not one of them. The pace of change, and revolutionary change, is fast. Every year there is massive upheaval which means every year your knowledge of what’s new becomes obsolete.
I have always worked on Microsoft technologies as Microsoft has been the big gorilla in the enterprise / desktop technology space but over the past few years, at an increasing pace, Microsoft has become less relevant. This means that the basis of my technical understanding has become less relevant.
I think there has also been a shift in the development market away from developers who build stuff towards developers who understand platforms and know how to tie those platforms together to build stuff.
Furthermore, it has become painfully relevant over my most recent project that I cannot rely fully on others to deliver key parts of my vision. I need to have a full width of knowledge in order to be successful. This doesn’t mean I need to do everything myself, quite the opposite, but I do need to know how to do everything myself. This major gap in my knowledge exists in 2 areas:
- UX and Design
I am very fortunate to be able to do something about this gap in my understanding so over the next 5 months I will be undertaking a self study program with the following 4 goals in mind:
- Get a better understanding of new technologies and technologies of the future
- Learn about the most powerful platforms available today
- Get a beginners knowledge of marketing / SEO
- Get a beginners knowledge and UX and design
In order to do this I have broken the work down into the following modules. Each module will be two weeks and many are designed to build on the knowledge gained in a previous module:
||Online marketing / SEO
||UX & Design
||Facebook Open Graph
I understand that at the end of this period I will not be a React.js guru or a Facebook Open Graph guru but that is not the intention.
My goal is to improve my product management skills. I have been working as a product manager for the past couple of years and really enjoy the work, but I think I can become so much more effective by switching the focus of my technical skills towards forward looking open source technologies.
At the end of this period of self-study I intend to be the best product manager I can be!