Learning with impact: Improving business prowess through product management understanding

Geoff Crocker leveraged executive education to make the leap from engineer to product manager.
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thechallenge

When engineer Geoff Crocker took the Product and Service Management Boot Camp from UBC Sauder Executive Education last spring it was with the goal to help him transition his career focus from a product’s inner workings to its outer appeal.

“I’ve always had an interest in the marketing side of products, especially why they’re designed the way they are and how companies make products that people want.”

An engineer for almost 15 years, Mr. Crocker recently gained the title of director of product management & technical sales at Corvus Energy Limited and thought education in marketing would help him make the transition into his new role.

His first thought was an MBA, but after some research he decided executive education was the best path.

“I did my research and saw that the Product and Service Management Boot Camp was extremely focused and suited my schedule.  The instructors were excellent, so it was the right course at the right time,” he explains. 

thepersonality

Even as an engineer, Mr. Crocker says he’s always been customer-focused, so a combination of his background and his interest in customer products was not an unusual fit.

“I’m always thinking about what I do, how it affects the customer and what they want.”

He admits that numbers have always come easily to him – along with the understanding of what makes a product tick – but there is also an attention to detail in the aesthetic side of a product that has appealed to him for years.

“I don’t know if you’d call it my creative side, but while I’m an engineer I also want to make products more marketable,” he explains, “because that’s ultimately what grabs the attention of the customer.”

His employer, Corvus Energy, was founded in 2009 and makes modular lithium-ion battery systems for high energy storage. Mr. Crocker came on board while the product was still new, so he had the chance to develop it from the inside out. 

“Our product needed a facelift, so that was an exciting aspect to be involved in, while still making the insides work,” he says.

theexperience

“What the instructors brought to the table really blew me away,” says Mr. Crocker about the classroom experience. “They were really dynamic and engaging and knew their stuff, which included tons of industry experience and solutions.”

Mr. Crocker describes the environment as "interactive and never stale." And although it was a hard-hitting management course, he says it didn't feel like pure academia because of the business background of the instructors.

"The course work is relevant because they're talking about stuff that we're hands-on with every day - iPhones or cars or soft drinks - they have deep knowledge about how products find their appeal through management and innovation," he adds.

thechange

After the five-day boot camp, Mr. Crocker says his increased knowledge and product management prowess was noticed on the Monday he returned to the office.

“On the first day back, several colleagues told me, ‘You’re different, it’s almost like you’re actually speaking a different language’,” he recalls.

His colleagues instantly recognized his new knowledge base, which Mr. Crocker says made him feel “more confident in doing the job.”

“Not only did I enjoy being in the classroom and acquiring these new skills, but I’ve also really reaped the benefits of using the information on a daily basis.


Executive Education at the Sauder School of Business

Our professional development programs aim to transform your career and accelerate your organization’s business objectives. With more than one hundred open enrolment programs taught by top Sauder faculty and leading industry experts, we zero in on your goals and ensure you get results.

We have a broad range of programs, from short skill-building courses for managers who want to make their mark to intensive week-long programs in residence for senior leaders. Each is comprehensive and convenient, minimizing your time away from the office and family. All our programs can be customized to meet your organization’s business objectives and professional development needs.