By Umutoni Zaninka
“The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something. Don’t wait for good things to happen to you. If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world and yourself with hope.”
These are the words shared by Erick Watson, Product Development Manager at Edge by Ascential. The company delivers specialist information, analytics, and eCommerce platforms to the world’s leading consumer brands and their ecosystems. Erick shared that Ascential is looking to hire more product development managers who have experience in analytics, databases, and reporting.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Erick and hearing his perspective on being a product development manager at Edge by Ascential and learning more about his career journey.
Erick began his career journey in college but wasn’t sure what he wanted to do like many other college students. He studied many different things and he started to think he was going to enter the medical field. At that time, he studied biochemistry. Much changed when he completed college and ended up meeting his future spouse who is from China.
“I went and married her in China. We were trying to figure out where to live in the United States but we didn't know where we wanted to settle. We ended up, by happenstance, in Seattle, Washington,” Erick said.
After that, he started to work with computers and help people with different IT-related issues. He kept expanding his knowledge of computer systems. He held many different jobs over the years that all involved some aspect of helping people or companies get the most out of their technology. This led him to become a product manager for the past 10 years.
As a product manager, he usually finds out the customer’s needs, wants, and desires.
“Sometimes clients need something but they don’t even know what it is,” said Erick.
As a product manager, Erick uses technology to fulfill the needs, wants and desires of customers. Erick enjoys being a product manager since he gets to interact with customers, engineers, and business professionals.
“I love the idea of creating something new that people didn't know they needed while working and interacting with people from all different backgrounds,” he shared. “The best part of my job is being able to help people with technology.”
From my interview with Erick, I recognized some key lessons that young people should consider to be successful in their careers.
Look at challenges from different perspectives. Erick said: “It is very important to think critically about something you are planning because it will help you brainstorm and handle the situation more effectively.” Looking at the problem from several different perspectives is essential to finding the best solution. It is helpful to get advice and insight from others so that you can open up your mind to the possibilities.
Collaborate with others. “Collaboration is required to be successful in your career,” Erick shared. “It is so important in your career to become much more collaborative and think about how you can help others succeed. If you are a manager, it is important to not be a micromanager but rather show them what to do and lead by example.”
Stop and think during a difficult situation. This is the best way to handle a difficult situation since it will enable you to know what is going wrong and how you can fix it. “A lot of times when you're in a difficult situation, you should stop and think and say, you know, what can I do? What can I do to make this situation a better one for everyone, not just for myself?” says Erick.
Always be curious. Erick encourages young people to be successful in their careers and try new things. He said: “I think it is very important to always be curious and always ask questions of yourself and of others? You’ll discover people have certain incentives for behaving the way that they do.”
The conversation with Erick was very exciting, interesting, and engaging and I learned a lot of things from him. He gave advice to the young generation who want to become more successful in their careers.
Specifically, he advises us to be decisive because it will help us know what we want to be or to achieve. You might not know what you want to do now but you can figure it out along the way. He shared with me how I can create my personal brand to boost my career (here is a resource from Northeastern University that he recommended to me).
I know this advice will be helpful in my career journey. I am very passionate about how I can start my own company and work in the business and finance fields. The conversation with Erick helped me to see how I can effectively work with people to achieve success.
In conclusion, I thought it would be helpful to share advice from Erick that I think is particularly key: “If you want to go much further in life, you have to find ways to help others become successful.”
For more information about Erick Watson, you can connect with him via LinkedIn. Erick is also a volunteer with Global Mentorship Initiative (GMI), a non-profit organization that provides guidance and business skills to underserved college students. We thank GMI for their support in sharing with their volunteers the opportunity to be interviewed by SNHU GEM students who are taking part in the Interview an Innovator program.
Umutoni Zaninka is a student at Southern New Hampshire University through the Kepler program. She earned her Associate of Arts degree in General Studies with a Specialization in Business. She is pursuing BA transition courses from the bright space platform. You can connect with her via LinkedIn. Umutoni wrote this article after going through Global Innovators Academy’s Interview an Innovator course.