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How to Become a Product Manager at Reebok: Andi Archer's Story

How to Become a Product Manager at Reebok: Andi Archer's Story
From Recruiter - September 13, 2016

Reebok is one of the worlds leading fitness brands. Have you ever wondered what it is like to work there? I spoke withAndi Archer, a product manager at Reebok, about her career journey at the brands headquarters in Canton, Massachusetts.

Bruce Harpham:What did you study in college?

Andi Archer:I studied design at the Rhode Island School of Design and started at Reebok shortly after graduating with a MFA in apparel design in 2009.

BH: Whoare some of your favorite designers?

AA:In my work, I take inspiration from street wearwhat people are wearing every day. I also follow a few designers with interest. Alexander Wang, Dion Lee, Cynthia Rowley, and Thom Browne are some of the fashion designers I follow.

BH:What strategies help you to stay productive and engaged in your work?

AA:My outside activities in coaching and athletics inform my outlook and keep me connected. In addition, I aim to focus on one activity at a time. Otherwise, its easy to become overwhelmed.

BH:Whats the best career advice you ever received?

AA:Adopt the flexibility attitude when you go through transitions. There was a lot to learn when I moved from a designer job to a product manager job at Reebok. I had to adjust my mindset and professional identity after working in design for a number of years.

BH:How did you land your first job at Reebok?

AA:I had talked with a recruiter who introduced me to the right person. I was fortunate to join Reeboks apprentice program. This program aligned well with my college interests, where I had an interest in fitness and active wear.

The apprenticeship is a one-year program for post-grads that gives you real life experience and eases graduatesinto the workforce. The goal is to train them up and hire them after the one-year apprenticeship. I believe there were about 15 of us across design in apparel, graphics, and footwear.

BH:How did you land your role as a product manager?

AA:In December 2015, I accepted the product manager role. The managers Ive worked with at Reebok have been highly supportive of career development. I was able to explore different departments and learn about them. Prior to starting the role, I had some exposure to product team as a designer, and that helped me through the transition.

BH:Whats it like working on Reeboks CrossFit products?

AA:Its exciting! Im a fan of CrossFit, so this is a great set of products to work on. I also appreciate the fact that Reeboks commitment to CrossFit runs deep. At our Canton offices, theres a Reebok CrossFit club that has hundreds of members. Many people regularly go for a workout during the lunch hour and other times during the day.

I plan product launches and seasonal strategy and direction for our line, and I work with design and development to drive innovation. We are responsible for briefing our design team on product strategy and direction. We alsobrief our brand communications team, which is responsible for producing the marketing materials for the markets. We do factory travel, trend-research trips, and trade show visits. We meet a lot with athletes and attend larger events like the CrossFit Games, regionals, and open workouts. We also meet with our global markets and set up and execute high-end retail showrooms.

Outside of work, Im active as an athlete and coach in CrossFit, so its an area that Im constantly thinking about.

BH:Walk us through what a typical workdaylooks like for you.

AA:I usually arrive around 8:30 AM and go for a workout during the noon class or the 5:30 PM CrossFit class. I tend to wrap up and head home by about 6 PM.

I work very closely with design and development in the early stages of the season. As the season progresses, we work with our markets (globally) and brand communications team.

In terms of software, I mainly used Illustrator when I was in design. Today, I use PowerPoint, Excel, and various internal databases.

I also test out new CrossFit products as they are produced. One of the key things we say in CrossFit is that it is designed for CrossFitters by CrossFitters. Sometimes, you need to know for yourself how something feels or works. Its great we can be so close to our products and really use them ourselves.

Over the course of the year, I also work on other activities, such as:

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