From End-User to Product Manager

My unexpected journey into tech.

Anna Burgess Yang
5 min readJan 13, 2022


A colorful cartoon of a vintage laptop
Image created via Midjourney

I recently saw a tweet from SaaS growth consultant Asia Orangio with a list of routes into tech.

Screenshot from Twitter

I replied and added one more: my journey began as the end-user of a product.

This is probably the least common route, but it has a nugget of advice for anyone looking to break into a new field: start with what you know. By digging in and translating your skills to new roles, you can take your career to unexpected places.

From End-User to Customer Success

Every company has a tech stack. From the simplest apps to enterprise solutions, products are needed to get a job done.

And chances are, no product perfectly fits every use case. Much later in my career, when I was evaluating solutions on behalf of my company, my rule of thumb was generally, “Does this do 80% of what we need it to do?” If so, we could change our process or use an additional app for the remaining 20%.

End-users have insights that even the most sophisticated product analytics can’t detect. Analytics may tell a company how their product is being used, but not why.

I began my career in banking in 2000 (though at the time, I didn’t know it would turn into a career). I was in high school and working as a drive-thru teller at a local bank. A few years later, there was a home loan refinancing cray, and I began to help with loan processing and loan review.

As I began to work with loans more and more, I realized that the bank had a loan management software that was hardly being used. I began to poke around and could see its potential to replace some spreadsheets and improve internal processes. I developed a plan to implement the software throughout the bank, and soon the product was relied on for several loan functions.

By the time I graduated from college, I had begun to consider a career in banking. Yet I couldn’t see myself as a loan officer. The bank owner said, “Well, you’re pretty good at that software stuff — why don’t you see if they’re…



Anna Burgess Yang

Productivity geek + solopreneur with niche expertise. #5amwritersclub frequent flyer. •