Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Hello, My Name is Sam Bryant

The discipline of product management fascinates me and I’m still intrigued about how I landed in my career in Product.  I have a Business Information Technology degree with a focus in Decision Support Systems, a second choice after a trusted academic advisor made me aware that I would not enjoy a career in my major of Industrial & Systems Engineering. I love how people interact with systems to get things done, so I was fine with approaching this from a business perspective instead of technical.

Sam Bryant
Sam Bryant
My first job was in IT working on supply chain systems. It was interesting but not for me. I got an MBA and moved into Brand Management at Philip Morris USA and was one of many who managed Marlboro. I was not a smoker but adored the brand. Got swept up in the myth of the American West and how the Marlboro product embodied it. Freedom. Harmony with nature. Adventure.

While managing the Marlboro brand I worked on a marketing program using a prepaid debit card. This led me to make a jump to Affinion Loyalty Group (now Connexions Loyalty or CXL), who managed loyalty programs, primarily credit card-based points programs for the major financial institutions. I started in a sales support role and was on a team with product solutions managers. One of them was Wes. I had previously never heard of a formal product management discipline and didn’t know what it was.

My role expanded to include B2C marketing communications through a CXL-owned loyalty program. Another internal job hop and then I eventually landed in Product where I feel at home. I am working on a product that’s a hybrid of existing products but positioned for a new market for the company – health and wellness. I love the challenge and learnings that come with being in a startup part of the company.

I love Steve Jobs. Not as a person but as a product purist. I read Walter Issacson’s biography in less than a week and was one of five people who saw the Jobs movie. I love to talk about him and find him exceptionally interesting. A total a$$ but brilliant.

I love all products and aspects of product development, management, and marketing. I am a marketer, and working with the tremendous talent at Philip Morris and their ad agency Leo Burnett made me a good one.  I love technology and how it has transformed the world and continues to everyday.

I am optimistic, though sometimes too much of a cheerleader. Curious, but sometimes don’t have the time to dig as deep as I want. Adventurous, though now my adventure is driving 16 hours in a car with a 21 month old. I am an early majority adopter of new technologies and products that interest me. And I’m a mom. Nothing has transformed the way I look at the world more than creating human life and seeing it through the eyes of my toddler son.

I tend to first see things in black and white. These extremes create boundaries for me to then play in the fun grey space. You have to know the rules in order to break them. I think critically and deeply and have begun a meditation practice to clear my mind and allow room for these thoughts of grey to ruminate.

Wes and I are different in our demeanor, style, and the way we approach the world, but we share one thing in common: passion for product. I hope you’ll share it with us.

Sam Bryant's wordle

[the end.]

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