I spent a good two years in an interesting startup company adventure, where I designed, developed and maintained a couple software projects entirely on my own. The area covered software engineering, user experience, up to art and sound design. The company is a mechanics and hardware house where I am the only "real" software engineer (we ave a few others, but really specialized on firmware and close-to-the-metal things) touching many grounds on both desktop and mobile software projects. The software projects are here to accompany a hardware offering which is the product sold by the company.

As a big-picture person, It was natural to widen my understanding of the problems that are typical to hardware, electronics and mechanical engineering and do my best to address them although I'm initially recognized as a software engineer. The reverse is not so true, I had a hard time getting the understanding of software challenges real from others, meaning it was even harder to get budget for good tools.

I could hire an intern to help me at some point, a wonderful person who helped a lot to move the things forward, and started to lead my little software team since.

As the success is great, we have grown quite a lot since. This means external hires were introduced as middle managers. Reorganization decisions happened without my consent although I gave much energy and trust to the company.

I spent the last months mostly doing debugging, getting stabbed on my back with quality issues and no resources to test, enduring the pain by wishing it would be recognized at some point and the intent to offload the actual development and move closer towards a product role. I gave so much as the project was slipping behind deadlines that I burnt out at some point; I had to seek medical help.

Then, nearly overnight, a project manager was shoved on our shoulders; all responsibilities that I enjoyed were gone: team leadership, user experience, product ownership, hiring... All that remains there is now the strict duties of software development which are giving estimates and writing code. A culture of information retention started to appear, as, for instance, the PM did not want to disclose his user experience ideas with me although this is one of my skills, saying it is "too early".

Actually, I think and act like a product creator much beyond simple software engineering. I enjoy creating the value proposition, meeting people to know their pain points and address their issues, traveling to the field, interacting with various fields (technical, business, marketing...), presenting our work externally, being involved in the big picture.

The forced move was exactly the opposite, I would end up "peeing code" (French expression for software engineers who are just programming with short-term demands; I have a big respect for the profession anyway, do not be offended), commute home every night and that's it. My perception is "not invited to the party but having to clean up afterwards". Quite not what was sold on hiring day. I have bigger drive, I feel more leading a vision and something long-term. I raised the issue with the new manager, and it turned out that upper management did not trust me to take a product role... fearing I would put my own vision too much forward instead of what the clients actually want... although I had no opportunity to show my skills yet!

We concluded that resigning was best for both parties, and moved forward with that. Now, the notice period is going on and I resumed applying to open positions elsewhere.

Here is the point of the question. With my skill set and experience, I am mostly seen for software engineering positions where I get specifications, write code and deliver, reporting to PM, group manager and always going to the same workplace. I would like to move faster to product ownership/management where I can actually create the value proposition, interact with more people, talk to clients, travel to places (even if just to meet clients it recharges my inspiration/creativity), something I find more appealing.


I feel like I have to start all over again by finding a software engineering position, grind some years at it then ask to move to a product role internally. Can I speed up the transition?

How can I move to a product manager type position quickly at another company when I have some actual experience, but not the title?


You apply for project management openings at other companies, and in your cover letter you explain your achievements doing project management work. In your CV or resume, you emphasize your project management skills. For some companies, they'll want the title, and you won't get hired there. For other companies, they are looking for the experience, and your title won't be a big problem. You need to convince them you have appropriate experience and hope that no-one else who applies for that looks better to them. (Because even when you look great for a job, there are still others who are also applying.)

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