Vancouver Career Spotlight is an interview-style blog series that features the amazing professionals that live and work in the Greater Vancouver area. Our vision is to showcase the many career opportunities that exist in Vancouver and provide inspiration to the future generation of workers and career changers.
Jeffery Liu is the Innovation Lead at Taiga Building Products in Vancouver. He obtained his Bachelor of Science in Wood Products Processing from the University of British Columbia.
Why did you choose this career path?
Being in the Forestry program at UBC, I attended networking events to learn more about the different career paths I could pursue. The majority of the options in Forestry were working outdoors in the forest or working in a research lab, whereas office roles generally included sales or operations.
I joined the co-op program and was hired as a Buyer Co-op Student at Taiga. During my co-op placement, I ended up doing a lot of business analysis work such as creating dashboards and spreadsheets to query information. That is how I started my path in “tech” and after my first year at Taiga, I was recommended to take on more challenging roles and projects. I am now the Innovation Lead managing the launch of the company’s eCommerce initiatives.
What are your main responsibilities?
At a high level, I am preparing our company for a digital transformation integrating an omni-channel business model and selling through an eCommerce platform. I manage budgets, choose the teams, create project timelines and determine our objectives. My role is essential in making sure that everyone’s parts are coming together, including smaller projects in the eCommerce portfolio, such as creating products, pricing and marketing.
What are the opportunities for career growth and advancement?
Currently, I am excited to see where life brings me. Product management can lead you to a variety of opportunities, including more exposure to manage larger and more challenging projects.
What kind of person would like a career as a Product Manager?
Product management requires someone who is strategic and has strong time management skills. You need to be okay with taking risks and be able to make decisions even in the face of uncertainty. It helps to be a quick learner as you will work with a variety of specialized teams to define the deliverables so someone can execute the tasks. Strong interpersonal skills are required as you communicate daily with people by negotiating, building consensus and managing conflict situations.
What is a common misconception people have about this career?
In reality, no one knows what I really do. A lot of people think eCommerce is just a website but my job is more than launching a website. We are managing multiple products and it is a complex structure to manage. There are many factors that have to be considered for the business to be eCommerce ready.
What school subjects would a person in this career typically excel in?
School subjects that cover topics of business, project management, digital products, design, technology, innovation, coding, marketing, and of course, product management theories would be helpful.
What type of education would you typically need to work as a Product Manager?
A bachelor’s degree in any program would be helpful to start out. Generally, experience and knowledge in product management, product marketing, business development or technology would boost your qualifications for the role.
I started with a bachelor’s degree from the UBC Forestry program but what really helped me was networking and participating in events to learn about different employers.
What types of organizations would typically hire an eCommerce Product Manager?
Any B2B organization that is looking to digitally transform would want to hire an B2B eCommerce Product Manager. There is a lot of room for people to enter the profession, even if they start out with a degree that is completely unrelated. There is a lot of opportunity in the B2B space as well as working in high technology companies such as Google or Facebook.
What advice would you give to someone who is interested in a career as a Product Manager?
Don’t be afraid to talk to different people. It’s hard to learn everything in a formal education setting since the programs don’t change fast enough for the jobs in the industry. If you are interested in marketing, for example, call an agency. I’ve learned so much by just talking to ten different companies and they give their best perspective on what they can offer.
I hope you enjoyed this Career Spotlight interview. Below are additional resources if you’re interested in researching this career further. Feel free to ask questions in the comments. If you’re interested in seeing if this career is right for you, send us a message here, and let’s help you find a career that aligns with your personality, interests, and goals.
More information about Product Management in BC:
ProductBC (non-profit association supporting Product Management, Product Ownership, Product Operations and Product Marketing fields)
Product Development and Management Association (global professional association)