Technical Product Manager - Edge Solutions

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A global Industrial Automation business engaged with us to find a Technical Product Manager for Edge Solutions. They had undertaken a 5 year research and development phase to explore new solutions and services, this research would be undertaken within an incubation hub. The development and introduction of Edge and IIoT software solutions within this incubation hub would be central to the company strategy.

The brief was taken from the Director of Engineering and Global CTO for Software Solutions. 



The Technical Product Manager for Edge Solutions would be a crucial commercial role to support R&D, product development, Cloud and Software services. The client had recognised that there was a need to engage with the market to better understand technology trends and consumer requirements.

The client had a number of use cases in play, however they now needed to look more strategically at long term product roadmaps. Although they had identified that there was a definite opportunity in the market, there was also some ambiguity between what customers want and the output of the development team. The Technical Product Manager would be able to simultaneously understand customer needs and market trends, while advising internal R&D and Sales teams. They would fill in the gap in knowledge between what the market is asking for, and what the R&D team were working on.

The role required someone who had come from a technical background in industrial automation and had moved in to more of commercial and analytical position. Ideally they were already in a product management position and were ready to step up in to a more senior/strategic position. An understanding of how to monetise a solution, and how to build out services would be crucial. 



The first step in the process was to conduct a thorough brief with the client, as always we would insist on a collaborative approach. While this was not the first time the client had hired a Product Manager, it was the first time this part of the business had required this profile. In many ways this was a start up team in a global organsiation.

We took the time to understand what the business objectives would be for this role. What impact the position needed to have in the short to mid term and what success would look like. All of this was crucial to be able to correctly sell the opportunity to the right candidate, and to be able to identify the correct competencies through our interview process.

Our best practice is to build a story, what is our client looking to achieve, what are the challenges, what are the success stories, what is the opportunity for someone coming into this role? No matter what the size of the organisation, we do not assume that everyone will know this, and it is crucial that we can articulate it.

We agreed to run a benchmarking exercise first to ensure that we had understood the brief correctly.

We agreed a search criteria which would be focused more on experience of the technical solution than on specific competitor organisations. The ideal candidate could come from a start up or global business, but they needed to have the technology understanding and market insights to make an immediate impact. 



From the agreed search criteria we were able to accurately benchmark the role very quickly. Because the area of Industrial Automation and Edge solutions is something that we specialise in we were also able to ask for some excellent referrals from our network.

In this instance it was one of the referrals who was successful in being hired for the role. The candidate had come from a technical product focused background and had recently been working in a research driven role. This meant that they could bring with them some invaluable insights on the competitive landscape of Edge and IIoT solutions.

The successful candidate had been in a position where they were speaking to multiple vendor and solution providers on a weekly basis, specifically about Edge and IIoT solutions. This was an excellent exercise in the power of having a strong network and being embedded in our client’s technical space!

About the author
Doug Mackay
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Having started his career in Executive Search in 1998, Doug set up Collingwood in 2005 alongside his wife, Claire Mackay.

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