May 25, 2016

“Why Consultants make great Product Managers!”

Why Consultants make great Product Managers, written by Former Goldman Sachs SVP and Head of Product at LearnVest

Vivek Bedi

Switching from finance or consulting to product management is not easy but it’s rewarding when done efficiently. After this Wall Street Journal article was published in March, I’m often asked if it’s necessary to have a CS degree or go back to school for an MBA — the simple answer is no. Frankly, either one of those can be helpful in any job but it’s not the main component that will help you across the bridge. More importantly, I would suggest thinking in the lens of building products. If you are a junior banker, think about how you would take the skills of the trading floor and how would you be creative. How would you leverage your financial skills to build a product that helps in money management, trading solutions, algorithms, etc?

Since leaving college I have worked in the financial industry, specifically in New York City. The financial and consulting sectors provide hundreds of thousands of jobs here; but New York is also a tech powerhouse second to Silicon Valley. If you’re interested in Financial Technology (FinTech), or tech in general, this is the place to be. I have worked with Goldman Sachs, run my own company, and currently lead product at LearnVest. Not one happy hour goes by without someone asking, “you’re a software product manager with a background in finance industry?” Yes. “How so?”

Product managers require a wide variety of skills in today’s work environment. As more companies become more intertwined with their technical services it’s important for the product managers to have a blend of business, project management, technical, and financial skills. Those with a background in finance and consulting have a great stepping stone into product management. Here are a few reasons why this is so:

Now you’re probably thinking, “this is great but how can I get started on this path and transition to product management?” Personally, I worked my network. I spend time going to meetups, getting together with others for coffee to share challenges, and reading blogs. You can attend a hands-on course on product management like Product School, where I am a mentor and guest presenter.


Listen it’s hard. Don’t get me wrong. It’s easy for you to not try and to say, “I can never be a product manager.” But I did and so can you. It’s really about wanting to build things that change lives, have amazing user experiences, and test the norm. Having a financial or consulting background already gives you the logical and practical thinking one needs to make this happen. It’s really being surrounded by others that can help you cross the bridge. Others like you that are going through the same change and having the urge to build great products. Now go build!

Vivek Bedi

Head of Product, LearnVest