We’re excited to share a recent interview with Emre Karadayılar, our very own Product Manager. Emre provides a deep dive into his experiences as a Product Manager and Technical Account Manager, two positions he has held within Adsquare. He shares the skills and knowledge required for each role, along with the unique challenges both roles pose.
These insights are valuable not only for those interested in pursuing a career in product management but also for those who are looking to transition between different roles within the tech industry.
Let’s dive in!
These insights provide valuable knowledge for those interested in pursuing a career in product management as well as those looking to transition between different roles within the tech industry.
Let’s dive in!
Hi Emre, thank you for finding the time to chat with us. Tell us about your experience at Adsquare so far.
Back in 2021, I started working at Adsquare as a Technical Account Manager (TAM) and I have been working as a Product Manager (PM) for over a year now. Over a time span of more than two years, I’ve observed both positions, ceteris paribus, almost like a controlled experiment where most if not all the other variables were held constant.
What is your motivation for comparing these two roles?
I thought that having worked in the same company, in both roles, presented a unique opportunity to share my perspective. I’ve gathered practical insights and wanted to share them with anyone who might be interested in changing their career path between Technical Account Management and Product Management.
Can you explain how these two roles differ in terms of their working styles?
Ad hoc vs Managed Work
As a TAM you are probably familiar with handling situations that arise on the spot. You are the go-to person who knows the ins and outs of the system, so you are generally the one that people look for when the fires start. For sure you have some goals and planned work on your agenda, but ad hoc work takes up the majority of your time. Tasks come to you via a ticketing system or get raised directly via your account partners and it is second nature to prioritise, if necessary escalate and finally solve them.
In Product Management generally, the opposite is observed. As a PM you are the person who should continuously discover what needs to be done (along with why). Of course, it’s not always possible to stick to a plan as there are bugs that come and go, unforeseen complications that arise or assumptions that get disproven, yet the majority of your work is planned.
What about the differences in frameworks you use to keep organised?
Kanban vs Scrum
Whatever you do, you need to have some way to organise your work. This applies to both TAM and PM roles.
As a TAM you may want to organise your work in a Kanban board. Kanban allows you to organise tasks that have varying time constraints or priorities. This flexibility is more suited for the TAM role which as mentioned can experience many unexpected kinks along the way.
As a PM you will most probably be using Scrum, which is better suited for a team working together to push out incremental value chunks in predefined time intervals.
What are some of the main stakeholders that you work with in the two roles?
External vs Internal Stakeholders
As a TAM your focus is more on the external stakeholders such as clients or partners, for whom you help clarify technical questions or help implement new pieces of your software. Apart from that you are also in contact with product managers to discuss possible product improvements or customer insights and support sales teams or account managers with technical topics.
The PM on the other hand is generally more in contact with the internal stakeholders such as engineering, design, sales, marketing, and customer success teams. This doesn’t mean that you as a PM get to close the doors to the external world; you will always have some contact with external stakeholders in the form of user research or alignment meetings with customers and partners.
Can you elaborate on your relationship with Software Engineers as a TAM vs PM?
Shared Resources vs Dedicated Development Team
When working as a TAM you will generally have access to some development capacity in the form of developers from other teams and squads lending a hand to you. Sometimes you can have a developer dedicated to the TAM team but it’s not rare for this developer to have numerous areas of focus. So you might find yourself battling for these resources from time to time.
As a PM you get to work with a team of developers who are specialised in their areas and are dedicated to a single goal. In this scenario, your main challenge is how to use your resources most effectively.
How does the way you contribute to the ‘bigger picture’ differ between a TAM vs PM?
Individual Contributor vs Teamwork
As a TAM you generally work as an individual contributor. Don’t get me wrong, being a team player is always important as you do collaborate with other teams and stakeholders in the company, but your success is mostly based on the work that you personally do.
On the other hand, the PM is a role where your success is measured by the outcome that the efforts of your team create. The product team is composed of members who are specialised in design, engineering, data, and analytics and it is the PM’s responsibility to harness all the best of this expertise to create value, so naturally teamwork is very important for this role.
Do you have any final thoughts to share with us?
Overall, I’ve found both roles to be a very effective way to learn about a company and its products in depth. The PM role may sometimes be more popular or held in higher regard, but it ultimately comes down to what you enjoy doing most.
Also please note that not everything I describe here may be considered universally true. I’ve only drawn from my own experience and tried to supply you with additional data points regarding the inner workings of the two roles.
About the interviewee
Emre has been a part of the Adsquare team since 2021. He started off his journey as a Technical Account Manager and is now the Product Manager for our Platform and Activation product. His Medium page shares his thoughts on more adtech-related content here.
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