For AV Month, we’re doing a series of blogs with our intrepid Product Management team. Today’s guest, David Albright.
David Albright – Product Manager – Monitor Tablet Category
How long have you been at Chief?
Describe the work you do.
I see myself as every role from the CEO down to the grunt, doing whatever it takes to support my product category. I get to do everything from high level long-term strategic thinking, to day-to-day task work to keep things moving. I have the opportunity to wear a lot of hats and do a lot of things, and work in partnership with every function within the organization. Every day is different and it’s a lot of fun.
What drew you to this work?
I have no idea. *smiles* I had no idea what a product manager was really before I applied for the job. My background is in design engineering. I spent 7-8 years in the semiconductor industry. Following completing my MBA I was looking to move from detailed engineering into a marketing capacity that still let me play in the product space. Product Management is a great middle ground between the customer and the internal engineering team. I get to do a lot of the high level blue sky imagining of new products, and then support our awesome engineering team as they figure out how to make them real.
What are the challenges of the job?
The main challenge is prioritizing between long-term efforts and short-term got-to-get-it-done activities. And juggling the different hats involved in those different efforts. I spend more time than I’d like on the short term and really enjoy the long term because a lot of the long term stuff is customer driven and market driven. It’s looking at a future we don’t know 100 percent about, and trying to glean through the mist what’s next.
One aspect of working in Milestone is every team has a role in the product development process. As product manager we spend a fair amount of time being the middle person between the various functions, and pulling in people at the right time on the project so things go as planned.
What are the rewards?
It’s largely the joy of creating something new, whether it be a new product or a new business development effort with a new custom product for a customer. I love seeing a team come together and learn and grow and have success and accomplish something new.
How did you first hear of Chief?
I had a couple classes with Nathan Bohl (Director of Product Management). We were both getting our MBAs at the same time. I was looking for something new. I reached out to Nathan. He was looking and I was looking. It was good timing.
How is it to work with the other product managers?
We work together as a team very effectively. We understand each other’s communication styles and support each other whenever needed. We work to have each other’s back. Each one of us will support other efforts on an as-needed basis when things come up. That keeps the role and our team interesting and motivated. It’s never the same.
Is there any competition with them?
We enjoy seeing each other succeed and sharing each other’s successes. We all want our respective categories to succeed and sometimes have to prioritize against each other for resources. But at the end of the day, we are all here to see Chief and Milestone succeed.
What makes something a good idea for you? What do you consider when evaluating a direction for a product?
I think when you can get the definition of a product filtered down to something that’s very clean and simple to understand, and something that feels very organic and natural. When it feels easy, that’s when I feel confident that we hit gold.
Do you have other hobbies or interests?
My wife and I have twin 7-year-old boys, a lot of our time is spent enjoying family life. I love to ski and play broomball. I’m happiest when there is snow on the ground. I am very much a pure-blooded Minnesotan. I even love to shovel snow. I love getting out there. Beyond that, I enjoy sports and being outdoors. I’m also a big board game aficionado.
Where did you grow up?
Grew up right near here, in Minnetonka, MN.
What’s your first memory?
Moving into my second childhood home when I was five years old and playing with matchbox cars on the coffee table with my new next door neighbor and longtime childhood best friend. I love matchbox cars to this day.
What was your family like growing up?
Grew up in a household where my dad is a very technical engineer. There was always technology around the house. We were very early computer adopters. There was always a new gadget my dad was playing with. It drove me to going into engineering myself.
Do you know when you first got interested in Engineering?
Growing up I always played with Legos. We had boxes and boxes of them. I loved just creating things – not necessarily following the directions, but creating something new. I loved having fun in that creative process. I was always mechanically inclined to see how things came together and apart.
Mechanical Engineering and Economics double major. Economics was my pleasure reading. The engineering stuff was often dry and technical. I really enjoy reading about economics and theory, and still do. My focus was on international macro economics and how international trade works.
I got my MBA just to continue to learn at first. I have a passion for learning. At the end of every day, if I don’t learn something new, I don’t feel the day was a success.
What personality traits work well with what you do?
I’m a very high energy individual. I get easily excited about new ideas, opportunities, activities, and am generally a very passionate person about the things that interest and intrigue me. People that can help keep me grounded are essential in my life so I don’t get too carried away. Generally there are a lot of people here at Milestone that help keep me grounded, but also people that appreciate that energy.
What frustrates you?
Miscommunication and unnecessary confusion and delay. Generally, I’m frustrated by systems and processes that don’t really help get where you want to go and too often present roadblocks in terms of executing. I’m a firm believer in good, well thought out processes. I enjoy improving processes and creating processes that get the job done.
What excites you?