Meet Jonathan, an alum of The Commons and Product Owner at Neo Financial, a Fintech startup. Jonathan is an entrepreneur, professional athlete and now, a Product Owner at a startup after joining the November ‘20 Strategy + Operations Sprint and September ‘21 Product Strategy Sprint.
To summarize Jonathan’s career path in 1 line: Masters in Management & Leadership ➡️ CEO @ Cannabis.Wiki (travelled throughout North America attending Cannabis Expos and interviewing some of the top executives in the space) ➡️ Football player @ Saskatchewan Roughriders (drafted in 2019) ➡️ Product Owner focused on Growth @ Neo Financial.
Read on to learn more about how passion drives Jonathan’s career, his advice on pivoting into product with no experience and the value that he got out of The Commons community (and job board!).
What drove you to want to work in tech?
I spent time building my own businesses. I learned a lot from that experience but also saw first-hand areas where my skillset could be improved. Working at a company like Neo Financial would enable me to upskill myself in those areas.
How do you think about your career over time?
I'm still very early in my professional career but what I can say is that careers are fluid. With that fluidity, there needs to be passion for what you do. I took a chance working on my own startups during and after my Masters program because I was passionate about them and the work that I was doing. That work eventually brought me to a completely different industry (Fintech), which I am now getting passionate about.
Why did you decide to join The Commons?
I joined The Commons because it offered two things: transparency and community. Transparency into the world of tech, which often seems opaque. This is helpful for people who are looking to break into tech, even if they already have some knowledge of the space. One thing I was hoping to get out of joining was a few strong connections and to upskill in some areas. The material taught from leaders in the space is amazing and the community is by far the strongest selling point that I can attest to. Being able to message individuals at amazing companies with very little barriers is amazing.
I wrapped up my last Sprint (Product Strategy) in September but stay active on Slack! I keep my notifications on and read about new community members - who they are and where they work, making a mental note of individuals that could potentially be beneficial down the road. I also stay in the loop with the #Tech-News channel. With my day to day being busy, it’s nice to have a ping/quick read of what’s new in the space.
Tell us about your new role, your job search and any advice you have for people looking to break into Product.
I am a Product Owner on the Growth team for Neo Financial. I just wrapped up my first week, it was great! I learned a lot about the current product and what’s in our Product pipeline. I can already see that growth is the major lynchpin for Neo. The Product team interacts with so many different people across the company - from developers, marketing, design to social, etc. Product is a very communication driven role.
I found the role through The Commons job board. I was interested in it because it was an entry-level Product role which is a rather rare find. There were 3 rounds in the interview process: fit interview with a recruiter, interviews with Product Managers and finally, an interview with the Director of Product. Due to the role being entry-level, the interviews focused on my ability to leverage my existing experience and learn in a fast-paced environment.
My advice to people who are looking to break into product is to keep going. Getting rejection after rejection is tough. But always remember that all you need is 1. 1 opportunity to wow a company with your experience, your demeanor and your thirst to learn.
What else should we know about you?
🧐 I’m always curious and always asking ‘why?’
🤷🏾♂️ I have an “it what it is” attitude. Understanding that things happen in our personal and professional lives that are out of our control. But what matters is how we respond to those situations and not dwelling on the past.
✈️ I have a huge drive to travel and work anywhere in the world. Ready to move at a moments notice if I smell an opportunity!
*Interview has been edited for clarity & style.