Andrew Elder

Helping businesses grow beyond borders.
Product Manager
@
Airwallex

How did you get here?

I spent two and a bit years at McKinsey & Co, and thanks to signing up for a stupidly long double degree during undergrad I fit in internships in law, investment banking and engineering before that. My McKinsey experience was pretty typical I’d say - lots of strategy projects across a wide variety of industries.

What options were you considering?

I enjoyed my time and really liked the people I worked with, but was definitely ready to move on. Professional services left me in a situation where I was either quite stressed about our clients’ problems, but wasn’t hands-on enough to actually fix any of them, or became a bit apathetic. Neither feeling was particularly fulfilling.

I considered Private Equity and did some interviews, but decided I wasn’t that interested in investing, for much the same reason that I felt consulting was a bit unsatisfying.

I’d always found tech interesting and have had vague regrets about studying civil engineering instead of computer science, so (very) briefly thought about retraining as a software engineer. Product Management was a bit of a mystery at the time, but it seemed like a way to use my existing skills to get closer to tech, and so I was intrigued.

How did you make the decision to take your current role?

I hadn’t heard of Airwallex until I was contacted on LinkedIn. I almost ignored the message, but realised an old friend had just joined so accepted an initial intro call. I was pretty hooked after that. Mostly, I just thought that Airwallex had a really cool product. I’d done enough consulting work for banks to know that it was worlds apart from what was traditionally offered to small businesses.

I was actually originally hired as a Strategy Manager, with the idea that I’d spend six months learning the ropes before shifting toward Product. As it turns out, I spent all of 24 hours in strategy before making the shift, which was great by me.

The combination of a great product, a way to get closer to tech, and an opportunity at an incredibly fast growing company all made the decision pretty easy.

What are you doing now?

I work as the Product Manager for our iOS and Android mobile applications, as well as managing our user-facing notification platform and a few other miscellaneous things.

What does your day to day look like?

Day-to-day that means I work with our developers and designers to prioritise, design and deliver new features that our SME customers use to access Airwallex accounts on their mobile. More specifically, an average day will start with a check-in with our team, then I might work with our designer to mock up a change to the user interface, conduct a customer interview, draft a set of requirements for the devs to build to, or present our team’s progress in a fortnightly stakeholder update.

I’m about to leave to study for an MBA, which is a bit bittersweet. Obviously super excited by the opportunity, and looking forward to the next two years, but I’m leaving a job that I really enjoy.

What do you love about your job?

Most of it. Delivering new features and receiving feedback from customers who use our apps in the wild (even if it’s negative feedback) is very very satisfying. I like working with and learning from the designers and devs because they are talented in things that I often have zero clue about. The job requires me to collaborate across a heap of different teams at Airwallex, and acting as the lynchpin for that communication is a lot of fun (although I guess might be awful for an introvert).

What do you not love about your job?

I don’t have any huge gripes. Airwallex is growing really quickly, so there’s always open headcount and people changing roles which makes some problems harder to solve than they should be.

What advice would you give someone deciding what they should do?

One thing I have learned is that there’s never any harm in taking a 30min intro call. Unless it’s super obviously an awful opportunity, cold contacts on LinkedIn are a blessing.

For consultants considering Product, I’d make sure that you’re genuinely interested in building software, and not just attracted to a bit of a buzzy job title. Assuming that’s the case, I’ve had a great time, so fully recommend it. Don’t be afraid to take a different role at a tech company (e.g., Strategy, Ops, Marketing, etc.) and then move laterally. I was lucky to move as quickly as I did, so maybe allow a bit more time, but it’s a well-trodden path.

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