Sascha Demetris (MSPM 2021)
When did you first become interested in product management?
I first became interested in product management while working as a mechanical design engineer at Garmin. It seemed like an interesting role where you could hear the input and ideas from people from many different backgrounds. Since being exposed to new ideas is something I really enjoy, this seemed like something that I would enjoy. Moving on to my next job at Tesla where there were no product managers, it made it more obvious to me the benefit an effective PM can have on teams. This solidified my interest in product management and motivated me to return to school at the MSPM program.
What do you enjoy most about your career?
Right now my role is really interesting because it combines experiences that I have gained from different aspects of my life. I am responsible for the smart/IoT electronics that we will be adding to our bicycle lineup in the future. I have to interface between the bike teams, the app team, and the customers.
Having experience as a mechanical engineer in my past, spending a lot of time as an avid cyclist, and gaining knowledge about software product management through MSPM have all prepared me, in different ways, to do well in this role. Combining these experiences with the input of the other functions at Cannondale is something that I really enjoy and look forward to doing.
How has the MSPM program helped you in your career?
I think there are two primary ways that MSPM helped my career. The first being a way to express that I am serious about transitioning into PM without spending two whole years in school in a traditional MBA program. The other was through the coursework. Since product management is sometimes a pretty ambiguous role, it is difficult to have courses that prepare me for every situation.
However, I can confidently say that I will make significantly fewer mistakes in my early career as a PM because of the things that I learned in the program. I think something important for an academic program in any tech field is to give really solid fundamental understanding to the students which will allow them to avoid common issues. I feel like MSPM gave me those fundamentals that I can build upon as I gain experience.
What is your advice to those currently enrolled in the program?
My advice would be to make sure you take a role that you are happy with. The job-search process is stressful and it is easy to take the first position that is offered to you. However, between the admission process for the MSPM program and the education itself, all of the students should be well-prepared to take on a role that will be fulfilling to them.