Making long term career choices

Tuesday, October 21st, 2008 - Uncategorized

Saba asks: Which one, Business Analyst or a Product Manager is a better job role from long term career perspective ? I am about to change my current job but am a little confused. I have two different offers with me right now and I wanted to make a decision based on what field will take me more further up to reach top management roles. One position is of a Business Analyst and the other one is of a Product Manager. I am very much aware of the fact that many small companies have one person working as both. So that adds up more to my confusion. I want to work in a position that offers more learning and there are plenty offers out there in the market when I decide to switch and leave this job and off course also the one which will lead me to join my dream companies like Microsoft or Google. Also please guide me if I join the business analyst role, would this mean that I cant get a Product Manager job role in future? Thank you so much.

In answer:
I don’t think this is a question of which is better, but more which is ideal for you and your career.

Generally, Business Analysts take customer problems and convert them into company focused and based product/solutions: they work from a customer view point. Product Managers are marketers with a fixed solution – the answer is the product, now what’s the problem? They fund product development and market position from purchase revenues: they work from a product and hence company view point

As a general rule, its better to get closer to the customer and revenue stream early in your career to enhance career longevity: successful sales people can always move to marketing or management, where as its difficult for product people to move forward or across a company.

The questions always to answer to yourself when thinking about a career move are:

(a) What floats your boat? What gets you going in the morning, and would make you get out of bed with enthusiasm at least 4 days out of five to do that job?
(b) What will the choice of change look like on your CV/Resume? How will you explain it to the HR manager who interviews you for the job after this one?

A good career plan should make the choice for you, and if you think about your long term goals the fripperies of the enhancement of one post versus the long term skill and competencies gains of the other towards those ultimate aims should prove decisive.

One final thought: as a 22year veteran of the telecommunications world myself, I have seen many well paid and enthusiastic Business Analysts, but few happy Product Managers after their product is more than 18months old: your career opportunity as a product manager is defined by the life cycle of your product. This often means you go from being the cream of the crop to an also ran quickly, and then trying to find a new opportunity with an old and commodity product on your CV/Resume often becomes difficult

Good Luck!

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