I started my professional journey as a software programmer at Schneider Electric. No, wait. Forgive me, but I think I should rewind a little more. I got into the field of technology because I loved problem-solving. Whether it was finding the radius of a cone’s base or calculating how much time a wheel would take to cover a certain distance – it all came down to problem-solving. Thus, computers became an inevitable part of my professional journey. I discovered and immensely enjoyed solving and writing algorithms. The job of a software developer is varied, and it means finding solutions to small issues like “button not working” to designing object models. When I was hired in the R&D team in Schneider, I was convinced I had found the perfect job.
It is a common notion that to start out in tech, you need to be a developer. No one taught us about the jobs of product or program managers when we were in high school. There weren’t any flashy advertisements displaying the importance of these roles either. It takes a village to build a product and most ignorant programmers like me found out about these roles only when we learnt about software lifecycles and when we started in the workforce.
While I thoroughly enjoyed working as a programmer, it was eye-opening as a fresh graduate to see how a team works. As far as a graduate is concerned, a team consists of fellow classmates. Only after working in a full-fledged, multi-site software team, did I discover what a team structure is.
The more I worked with my teammates, the more I discovered about these roles and their functions. I had always been eager to work with customers and find a good technical solution to their problems.
I have been blessed to get lots of customer-facing opportunities despite being a developer who typically doesn’t have to handle customers face to face often. After working for around 5 years as a developer, I was convinced I wanted a more customer-facing role. I was also motivated by one of Schneider’s Core Values – which is to be Customer First. I had been working closely with the Product Owner of our team for regular work, as well as to educate myself about the various nuances of the role. I discovered the variety of problems a PO must solve, for example, prioritizing tasks keeping in mind the variables of release date and customer requests. A PO must also keep in mind the technical roadmap of the software and propose the most efficient solution. The job of the Product Owner seemed perfect.
I spoke to my managers and they were extremely motivating and encouraged me to take tasks that would help me upskill for this role. Soon enough, I was handed off Product Owner tasks which I could work on. It’s been around 2 years now where I have worked as a Product Owner and I feel very obliged and fortunate to have been given this opportunity. I thoroughly enjoy the process of building requirements keeping in mind the perspectives of marketing, customers, cybersecurity, and even user experience. I enjoy putting in efforts to make the documents technically precise and yet be easily understandable. The path to learning the art of storytelling has been also been extremely informative. I remember initially I would make UI keeping in mind some technical aspects and not entirely opening my horizon. The more time I spent under my mentors and customers, my perspective has now almost completely changed, and I look at the same UI now from the front end rather than from the back end. As you can imagine, it has been quite a diverse role change and I have tried to use my previous experience to enrich my current one as much as possible.
If my managers had not shown confidence in me and given me this chance to change my role, I would have never discovered my love for building products. No wonder Schneider is globally recognized as a Great Place to Work!