Product Management Consultant Shares His Advice in the Classroom

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2015 - PDM12 Class

Shane (second in from the right) celebrating the last day of his latest Product Management course.

Shane Williamson is a Lean Product Management consultant who assists entrepreneurs and organisations with change management from being business-centric to customer-centric by utilising lean product management processes and tools so they focus clearly on delivering value to their customers. He came to GA to teach the part-time Product Management course in Sydney. 

Follow Shane on Twitter:@shanewilliamson

What were you doing before you came to teach at GA?

I’m an independent consultant and mentor for companies looking at working with mobile technologies or that require product management services.

How did you hear about GA?

I was approached by GA to present at an event. It must have gone well as they asked me back to teach one of their product management courses.

What inspired you to become an instructor at GA?

I’ve always loved sharing my experiences with others. I’ve been involved with many aspects of corporate training throughout my career and always enjoyed the experience of assisting others to learn. I was attracted to the unique way GA runs their courses, the atmosphere of the learning environment and the people who attend that are always hungry to learn.

Considering your background in product management and consulting, what are you hoping to share with your students?

I’m fortunate in my career to have worked in multiple industries at times when there was massive change within them. My experience in both the information technology and telecommunications industries has taught me how, and how not, to do product management. I have also experienced working in all different company sizes from small to large enterprises, in which there are fundamental differences in how the product management role is utilised.

An exciting part of what we teach at GA is a new way at looking at an old methodology for bringing new ideas to market as well as extending the lifecycle of more established products. It is a fundamental process that is educating people in understanding how to shift from being business-centric to customer-centric.

How do you balance your teaching commitments with consulting?

Teaching at GA is very complimentary to my existing consulting work. I especially enjoy teaching the course on weekends as I have the flexibility to manage my week more effectively with other work.

You start teaching a new PDM course next month. How are you preparing?

The power of the GA course material is through the ability of the lecturer to change & update the content as they desire. For the next course I’m adding changes due to feedback from previous classes & I’m looking at implementing a new way to run the in-class workshops.

How do you keep up with your students’ progress after they graduate?

Many keep in contact through various social media sites, especially LinkedIn. One of my previous classes set up a Product Management Facebook group and new alumni are able to join too. A lot of the alumni keep each other updated on new materials, courses, and the progress of their careers.

What are some unexpected challenges you’ve had as an instructor?

The largest has been dealing with the assignments from the students. When I first started I hadn’t anticipated how much there would be to assess and mark. I tend to work with students that are unable to complete the assignments to ensure they are getting the most value from doing it.

How do you divide responsibilities with your TAs?

This is dependent on how the team assistant wants to be involved. I offer all my team assistants the opportunity to use the course again to gain further insight into their ideas or managing their careers. They can ask questions in class as well as submit homework again on their personal projects too.

Some team assistants have also assisted with commenting on class homework assignments by giving the students extra feedback.

How often do you interact with other instructors at the Sydney campus?

I’ve had the opportunity to meet with quite a few of the other instructors and we have worked together on either changing course material or discussing opportunities to share our experience amongst each other’s classes.

GA also runs regular online meetups with other product manager instructors globally. This is a great way to hear how others are working with the course materials and sharing new ways to engage with students.

What GA course would you take if you could?

There are two courses I’d like to attend to see how they are taught: Digital Marketing and the Business Fundamentals & Tactics course.

What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learned from teaching so far?

Just because you teach, learning doesn’t stop! 🙂 I’m always fascinated by how you can still be taught when you teach. It’s a wonderful cycle that never stops.

What advice do you have for people looking to teach or take a GA course?

First, just do it, then second attend a class before you teach.

I think the best way for instructors to pick up on the students and how the course can be run is to experience first hand how other instructors operate their class. The Sydney producers are brilliant at this and I’m always happy to help new instructors by having them attend one of my classes.

I also make myself available for new instructors to meet up independently to talk tactics over a coffee and share some of the learnings I’ve had with running the course multiple times.

Who’s your all-time favourite teacher and why?

Not sure if one teacher stands out more than others I’ve been taught by as I’ve been fortunate to have teachersand and instructors in my past that have taken that extra time to get to know me and empower me to go further or do more.

I don’t think you can teach today successfully without getting into your students heads and learning as much as you can about where they have come from and where they are trying to go. I take a lot of what I’ve experienced as a student from teachers and instructors both good and bad, then try to implement this learning in the courses I teach and the people I mentor.

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