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Online MBA Helps Student Fuel Product Manager Career

Since starting the Professional Online MBA program, Adrian Bryant has already received an internal promotion and landed a new role at another company. Here’s how the program has helped him keep his career moving forward.

By Jess Clarke

As a product manager for software developer ProductPlan, Adrian Bryant works closely with the engineering and marketing teams to take concepts for new features from the idea stage to a successful launch.  

He assesses product data, along with feedback from customers and colleagues in engineering, sales, support and upper-level management to decide what to develop next. “You’ve got to piece all of that together to make a decision that this is the next feature or capability we need to add,” the Poole MBA student says. 

There’s a lot to his role. In making strategic decisions about a product, Bryant calls his position that of “a mini-CEO.”

“You’re responsible for that go-to-market piece, too…We’ve got to let customers know here’s this cool thing because the bottom line is you have to make this product successful,” Bryant says. “It’s all on you. If you make a feature that completely fails and the company loses money, that’s on you as well.”

As a student in Poole’s Professional Online program who works full time, some of Bryant’s MBA courses are helping him succeed because they’re directly applicable to his position. He cites his courses on data-driven managerial decisions and product and brand management as being particularly useful.

I’ve fallen in love with product management. TEC will really help me grow on this specific career path.

Soon Bryant will start courses related to his MBA concentration in Technology Entrepreneurship and Commercialization (TEC), in which students are involved with the various phases of new business startups. His courses will include a class on product design and development and a venture launch practicum.

Bryant’s ProductPlan job has entrepreneurial aspects that will tie into the practicum. “You have to analyze the market space and find those gaps where you can make a difference,” he says. “I’ve fallen in love with product management. TEC will really help me grow on this specific career path.”

Moving on up

Poole’s Career Center also has helped Bryant grow on his career path.

He credits the center with strong support as he successfully pursued a promotion to senior product manager when he worked at Citrix before moving to ProductPlan. A virtual series hosted by the center for working MBA students, which focused on negotiating a promotion and changing career paths, gave Bryant confidence to advocate for himself. 

Career advisers also stepped up as Bryant considered whether to look for new employment.

When I was struggling with whether to stay at Citrix, they helped me feel confident that this opportunity would allow me more growth and experience.

“When I was struggling with whether to stay at Citrix, they helped me feel confident that this opportunity would allow me more growth and experience,” he says. “It’s like having a therapist, someone to bounce ideas off of, helping you learn how to reflect within yourself and make the right decision.”

The self-reflection worked. Since joining ProductPlan last fall, Bryant hasn’t looked back. 

He likes the close-knit, people-centered staff and having many ways to learn new skills. “At a smaller company, you have the opportunity to do more,” he says. “You’re empowered to see a problem and go fix it.”

Fixing problems is one of Bryant’s passions. NC State’s Think and Do philosophy was one draw to the Poole MBA for him. “That kind of mentality, Think and Do, applies to what I’m doing in tech. And with the MBA program’s STEM focus that ties back to TEC, they all add up together, and it’s this picture-perfect foundation for me.”   

With an MBA degree, Bryant will feel more confident working in the tech sector in a period of high-profile layoffs. “I’ll have the right education and experience to land on my feet,” he notes.

I’ll have the right education and experience to land on my feet.

Using his education and experience, Bryant measures career accomplishments by his capacity to grow and to help others learn. “One of my strongest assets that has really helped me in my career is the way I can connect and empathize with people,” he says. “That’s what I’m proudest of, my ability to connect with humans and how that enables success in what I’m doing.”

Learn more

To learn more about the Jenkins MBA program, including tuition, curriculum, career opportunities and more, please submit the form below. 

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