Start Your Career Path: Find The Right Job

To set up your professional life for success, it’s important to be deliberate about your career path. Product management is still a new discipline and there is not a clear way to advance your career. As a result, you need to stay on top of opportunities that emerge and have the conviction to act on them.

For example, I’m always surprised when people tell me “I wasn’t looking for something new” when they decide to leave a company. I understand that people make these statements in order to keep things positive. However, I always want to say, “I hope you were looking for something new.” You should always be thinking about your career path and making sure that you are moving forward.

To find the right job, you need to know what you are good at and you need to be really honest with yourself. To find the best job, I use a process that assesses job opportunities based on two criteria. The first factor is your personal strengths – the second is your ability to work in a specific company’s environment:

Does not leverage strengths + bad environment = WARNING

  • There are big companies that may offer you a great role. However, if it doesn’t fit your skill set, it’s not worth pursuing. Furthermore, the work environment may not align with your preferences.

Leverages strengths + bad environment = CAUTION

  • Your role may be perfect, but working in an uncomfortable environment can get old in a hurry. For example, if the company is losing money or the management team is not setting expectations for your team.

Does not leverage strengths + good environment = OPPORTUNITY

  • This is an interesting scenario where you’re excited about the company’s mission. However, it’s a stretch goal in terms of your skillset. These are perfect places to be early in your career where you can learn a lot and push yourself to overachieve.

Leverages strengths + good environment = BINGO

  • There’s no better place to be when your role perfectly matches your skills and the work environment is perfectly suited for your preferences.

This may seem easy, but it’s important to keep in mind that our strengths and needs will change over time.

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About the Video:
Speaker: Xiaodi Zhang

About the speaker
Xiaodi Zhang, Chief Product Officer Member

Xiaodi Zhang joined as the first product hire. Over the last six years, she has led the transformation of the luxury marketplace and helped grow the company from 350 today. As CPO, Xiaodi manages the Product and Design organizations. Her responsibilities include leading the annual strategy planning process and developing the right frameworks and tools to ensure success at 1stdibs. Along the way, she has built a team of nearly 30 rockstar product managers and designers. Prior to 1stdibs, Xiaodi held leadership positions at Gilt and eBay. While at eBay, she spent five invaluable years in Shanghai, learning first hand the importance of grit, scale and competition.

About the host
Andrea Chesleigh Boxed, VP of Product and Engineering

Andrea is the VP of Product and Engineering at One Kings Lane, a digital-first resource for making your home an expression of your personal style. She has spent over fifteen years in Product and Tech, and has led teams at startups and Fortune 500 companies, including Rent the Runway, Zappos, Time Warner, and Verizon. Andrea is passionate about solving hard (seemingly impossible) challenges, developing simple yet delightful products, building teams of entrepreneurial critical thinkers, and creating strategic outcomes with impact. She is a hands-on leader with a player/coach style, diving into the details with her team to partner, advise, and guide them to success.

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Xiaodi Zhang is a product executive who has climbed the product ladder from project manager to CPO. To advance your career, it’s important to recognize when it’s time to move on to new opportunities. As Xiaodi explains, there are a number of factors that determine how to take on new challenges – from learning new skills to working with leaders who share your values.

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