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What has been the most surprising thing about being a Director that you only realized after you were promoted?

Anton Kravchenko
Anton Kravchenko
Carta Sr. Director of Product ManagementFebruary 3

Leveling up to Dr level meant being a point of contact for many people at the company, which meant more inquiries from sales, customers, leadership, and other product teams. Since I got promoted, my inbox and # of slack messages doubled :) 

My learning from this experience is that you want to document as much of the process as possible so people outside of your team can find SMEs and relevant information for your area. 

742 Views
Milena Krasteva
Milena Krasteva
Walmart Sr Director II, Product Management - Marketing TechnologyOctober 7

Many promotions happen because the person was already performing and showing up as being at the next level. Depending on the company, the Director role marks a clearer line between individual contributor roles and management roles. However, unless the promotion is accompanied by a significant change in scope or new formal reporting lines into the role, perhaps the most surprising thing is that much else remains the same. You might now be on some additional distribution lists for Directors and above, but most of that is also related to people-management. 

516 Views
Vasudha Mithal
Vasudha Mithal
Care Solace Chief Product OfficerDecember 6

The work keeps getting more and more ambiguous the more senior you become. You have to take initiative to stay connected across the company, keep a pulse of the market/news to ensure you are able to guide the work of your teams. It becomes less about working on a specific project but more about ensuring we are pumping resources on the right projects. It is equally important to prune the work as much as to add more.

387 Views
Julian Dunn
Julian Dunn
Chainguard Senior Director of Product ManagementNovember 8

I think I intuitively knew this, but the amount of time one ends up spending on trying to improve communication between different individuals and teams in the organization increases dramatically as you become a more senior leader. Much of this work happens behind the scenes and is hidden from ICs. It can involve anything from the coaching that you do with your team to improve their communication to the cajoling (and yes, sometimes threatening) that you need to conduct with other functions like engineering, design or marketing, or even other PM teams to improve their interactions with your team.

Spending a lot of time thinking about organization design, what work to delegate to whom and for what reason, constantly evaluating your own team and their strengths & weaknesses -- if you don't enjoy doing these things and seeing your impact chiefly through other people, you probably won't enjoy being a leader of PMs.

386 Views
Sheila Hara
Sheila Hara
Barracuda Networks Sr. Director, Product ManagementFebruary 1


The most surprising aspect of transitioning from a Product Manager to a Director role was the significant shift in the nature of customer feedback I encountered. While I appreciated gaining more context and visibility at the strategic level, I found that my interactions with customers became predominantly centered around escalations and resolving issues. This contrasted with my previous experiences, where I often heard a balance of positive feedback alongside the challenges. Adjusting to this change meant focusing more on problem-solving at a higher level, though it also underscored the importance of maintaining a connection to the broader customer experience, beyond just their pain points.

413 Views
Nicolas Liatti
Nicolas Liatti
Adobe Senior Director of Product Management, 3D CategoryJuly 11

When you become a Director you usually become an executive at the same time. The biggest change that happens is the way how people look at you: everything you say is interpreted in a different way when you are a Director.

This means you really need to change how you communicate and manage people, even if your scope didn't change much.

This means that expectations from people are way bigger, and this usually comes with a big disillusion / crisis in the first few months after being promoted Director.

This is something I noticed for every Director I promoted, and I tell them this: there is almost always a big gap and crisis to overcome in the first year, because of the way people see you. Be ready for this.

306 Views
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