Should I wait or accept a job outside of product management

I urgently need outside opinions. Should I wait it out to see if this new opportunity is worthwhile or accept a job outside of product management?

Product Manager here. Need quick advice from an outside perspective.

I want to quit because of the toxic company culture and the incredibly insane manager (I attempted to work around this, but I can’t, so I will constantly feel like I’m at a ceiling). Even though I was qualified, looking back, I was probably only hired as a diversity statistic for this all-male staff. I now feel inept, horrible, and that I’ll never make a nice PM because of it. Now, I’m so self-conscious.

I work for a major firm, but there are no other buildings or teams in this state where I am located, therefore I may easily swap teams every two to three years.

I must make a decision regarding a job offer by Monday. At a sizable, fantastic organisation, as the Subcontracts Manager. only working 4x10s, little stress. Rather slowly paced. In essence, it would be comparable to a PM function, but with less stress and a closer focus on the subcontract as a whole rather than the product as a whole. Since several company units are HQ’d here, one can change occupations every two to three years. Fantastic firm for long-term careers.

My present employer, however, wants to completely restructure the firm’s data value stream, which would entail collaborating with a [major tech company] on AI/ML and cutting-edge solutions. I have been asked to join a special focus team at the C-suite level to brainstorm for two to three weeks and then offer our ideas for how to proceed. If the executive level approves, we will determine how and who will be added to this team to support the innovation project. However, 1) a solution needs to be found. 2) The solution needs to be approved and funded; 3) it needs to be included to the team. Evidently, 1-3 carries some danger, possibly a significant amount, but I am optimistic that this effort will produce results because innovation is sorely needed locally.

What should I do? What should I be considering? Please help me by asking the right questions.

If everything works out, the innovation project sounds like a once-in-a-lifetime experience that would be fantastic. If it doesn’t, I’ll be stuck on this team with little room for advancement and will have to reapply to jobs outside the firm.

The Subcontracts Mgr position would position me for progression in a fantastic firm.

And for the sake of my mental health, I must leave the team I’m on right away.

I appreciate any suggestions you may have in advance. I really thank you.


I’ve seen healthy workplaces becoming toxic, but I’ve never witnessed the opposite.

The term “product manager” is actually just a shorthand for a collection of abilities and competences, and there is a significant demand for them, particularly those who can show that they know how to produce value. How else might you have gotten this other, similar-but-different job?

As long as you can continue to add value wherever you go, I wouldn’t worry about you “leaving product management.” Furthermore, working productively in a positive, encouraging environment is considerably simpler. You can eventually return to Product if you truly want to. I’ve met a lot of folks who have. However, if you don’t move out now, when you have the chance, you run the risk of experiencing many years of growth retardation and the emotional strain that comes from being in a poisonous environment.

The Subcontracts Mgr role would put me up for certain progression in a wonderful company, so I guess I’ll cite another of your lines instead. Don’t look back as you pursue that; just do it!


Thank you for the comment. Agreed— the toxic to healthy basically only comes when a TON of people retire/everyone leaves basically, I feel like. Although the company really is trying to turnaround completely.

Thank you for reiterating the driving value piece wherever I go! Makes me feel confident I can come back to product after some time away… Or drive value elsewhere. I am also starting my MBA this summer, which will be great!

It sucks because I do have C-suite level connections now. They have told me they can move me if I stay (told me this today), but I’m still not sure what my future holds here.


I am definitely tempted by the innovation project at the current company, thinking of all the things it could be but it is just that— wishful thinking, perhaps…? Company culture will still be toxic, but I would at least be off of the sexist team, which I think would improve my day to day… But no 100% guarantees that team would even form.

It will suck to leave product mgmt, but the new role is really similar and really transferable to PM in the future— and now I have about 1.5yrs in PM experience on my resume, so I do think I could jump back one day if I find this new position to not be the greatest.


True - but I think it’s also worth asking: how did the team become insane and how does it remain insane? Surely there’s got to be some wider company culture at play there.


Yes, the business is seriously falling behind on craziness, as is the industry, and this particular facility or division in my state is worse than both of them. You are correct; in this system, no matter what I do, I will never be successful. But by giving up the struggle, I feel like a coward. I’m definitely damaging my mental health by fighting, though. Having to resign from a PM position as a result stinks, but I still have a decent opportunity coming up.


You’re not a coward and you didn’t give up anything. You’re winning by succeeding in your career and they’re losing because they just lost a good professional.


Thank you @PriyaVarma :heart: makes me feel so much better.


No matter how many buzzwords they cram into it, the systemic culture issues that you are describing don’t usually disappear with one cool initiative. If you subsequently decide that you want to return to working on products, you can always spin the subcontract manager role.


This. GTFO if you already feel that your emotional well-being is suffering. From there, it’s a rapid slide into burnout. If you reach that point, you’d be looking at an even slower return to “normal.” Take the “safer” work, and if you find it to be too safe, you can always search for something else because businesses are beginning to ramp up to levels that existed before Covid.


@JesusRojas, Thank you for your advice. Definitely I will keep my options open for product management.

@MariaWilson, Thank you so much. Have made up my mind.


I see a lot of ifs. If I were you I wouldn’t waste a second thinking about this. Switching right away is what I’d be focusing my efforts on. So move your Heine.


Please take the new job. Toxic environment is never good, even if it helps you grow. You are more important than a silly job requiring innovation. Your mental health is more important. Also, as you said your manager is insane, I doubt they would take your ideas and give you credits. Don’t stay. Take the new job. There will be more opportunities in the future.


Moving this heinie right away! Agreed with you. Thank you!

Exactly. Thanks for supporting.


Reason I am wanting to leave is toxic company culture + terrible manager

Those 2 things won’t change with a cool project.

They’re the 2 most important things in a company.

When you’re at a like that^ place that long enough its hard to imagine a better or different future for yourself.

Don’t fall into that trap.


Thank you so much. I completely agree with you.


If your career path at the current company is getting better but you still don’t feel like it’s going to take you anywhere than by all means bail but consider that this visibility could pull you quickly from your current team into something much better. Where they treat you for the PM you are…instead of a quota.

I guess the main question is…do you love product and will you miss it if you leave?


I think my career path will be better, but I’m still not sure where it will take me. I do know this would bring me huge visibility, it is basically a revolution that would impact the entire future of the company. (current company)

I think I would miss being a PM a little— and I would miss some of the people. I have come to think about my long-term goals, and I’m not 100% sure being a tech founder or working in VC is what I would want to do. I think long-term I would want to be a diplomat, a lobbyist, or some other field related to public policy. This subcontracts mgr role is in space/defense, so it seems to at least get me a little closer and potentially opens me up to that possibility.


Well it sounds to me like you answered that question. I have been in product for 10 years and love it but now taking more management roles and more politics…I will admit is kinda fun. But be ready…that game has its own pitfalls. I wish you the best…not an easy choice.


Oh that is fun that you are stretching into mgmt and more politics! I feel like that is where you can really influence what is important for building a product— especially getting closer and closer to the purse strings— lol.

Yes, def will have its own pitfalls, but I am excited to see what is ahead. Thank you!

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