Behind-The-Scenes: What is Technical Program Management?

In this short series, we help you get some honest, behind-the-scenes details about what different jobs are really like from mid-career professionals across a variety of function, industries, and companies.

The 6 short questions are based on our What Does This Job Entail framework and are a great way to gain quick insights about a job, and build an in-depth analysis for to prepare your resume, cover letter, or interview preparation. Let's dig in and learn some more about the job function above. 



What's your name?

Anand Menon

What industry do you work in?

Technology

What led you to this career path?

I used to work at Amazon in a Program Management role that later transitioned into a Product Management role. Seattle is considered the Cloud Capital of the world with AWS, Azure, OCI, Google Cloud all based here. I wanted to move into Cloud and specifically transition into a technical role. OCI hired me due to my experience managing large scale programs at Amazon and provided me the bandwidth to learn technologies on the job. I really wanted to be in a company that is growing fast. OCI fit all these requirements and I was able to grab the opportunity that OCI provided.

When you started in this job function where did you need to get up to speed?

My current team has an eclectic mix of both technical and non technical managers and we learn daily from each other. I created a learning curriculum that allowed me to learn Cloud technology while adding value to OCI utilizing my expertise with business/HR operations. My manager purposefully put me on a project that leveraged my PM skills but not needing an in-depth tech knowledge. This allowed me to learn at a decent pace. Learning while doing, was the best way to proceed.

When you started in this job function where did you hit the ground running?

The first step was to understand the end-to-end ownership of my org and what the expectation was as a Technical Program Manager. The definition of TPM various within the industry and sometimes even within teams. Central program teams need to have a good mix of tech and managerial skills vs internal teams are heavily tech focused. I am part of a central team and there were areas that I could add value with no learning needed. This is what I prioritized with the support of my manager.

What does your day-to-day look like?

I work in the Cloud Security and Developer org within Oracle Cloud. I work on programs that will help OCI expand into new markets and enhance its offerings.

What are some of the challenges that you run into in your role?

Managing through influence vs managing through power. Moving from a manager role to an IC role was initially hard but now I am used to it. There is also the scale - as an IC, I can only do so much vs being a manager allowed me to deliver based on the capacity of my team. This mindset change was initially hard. Moving into a fully Cloud tech role was also challenging as majority of my org are developers. The perception of value of a TPM differs greatly based on people's personal experiences. Therefore, part of my job is selling what a TPM does and how we add value instead of adding one more layer of red tape.

What types of questions are you asking regularly in your role?

What is the problem ? The problem definition might vary based on who you ask and therefore it is critical to understand at least 3 different definitions of the same problem. 2. How big is the problem I am trying to solve, who is the customer, who all does it impact 3. Will I add value or will I be an obstacle to progress 4. What currently exists that I can reuse and add immediate value to a program? 5. Are all the things on track, what kind of problems have cropped up in the past? How can I prepare or mitigate these problems before they happen 6. What I have I learned from my successes and mistakes? 7. Is my value perception aligned with those who I work with? 8. What else can I learn that will enhance the value I provide 9. What can I impart to others from my experiences

What's your favorite piece of career advice you've received?

People always assume being different is bad. Being different is a strength because if you are the only one that looks like you at the table, you are there, because they wanted you there. Don't change to align, stay different.





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