Lisa Dyer leads overall strategy and execution of the Associate Offering Manager Program in IBM. The mission of the program is to infuse IBM with early career “product people” and develop them into data-driven, user-centric entrepreneurs who can innovate and win in complex markets. Prior to IBM, Lisa held leadership roles in several startups, building platforms, frameworks, and teams to drive product adoption.
Lisa joined IBM in 2010 as part of an acquisition. In 2013, Lisa joined the IBM Design transformation team to help launch the program and then led product management of its digital properties including ibm.com/design and a tooling platform for remote collaboration, now used across the entire organization.
In this interview, Lisa gives us deeper insight into the IBM Associate Offering Manager Program.
What is the IBM Associate Offering Manager program all about?
IBM is transforming product management and has created a broad role as part of a new discipline called IBM Offering Management. As part of this transformation, IBM has launched a unique-in-the-industry program that recruits and develops early career talent to become well-rounded Offering Managers. It’s called the Associate Offering Manager Program.
The IBM Associate OM Program exists because of our fundamental belief that early career talent in what is universally known as product management is a critical investment in our future as an enduring organization.
We look for candidates with a background in market research, design thinking, engineering and tech commercialization, business planning, and go-to-market practices. Associate OMs have diverse academic backgrounds in Business, Liberal Arts and Engineering with Bachelors, Masters and MBAs plus some experience relevant to product management.
Our program model is seasonal. We recruit and make offers year round for Associate Offering Manager positions with start dates twice a year in January and July. You’ll start with a unique-in-the-industry Bootcamp experience in one of our major hubs in the U.S for up to three months, and then deploy to an offering team in one of those hubs.
Can you explain how an Offering Manager differs from a Product Manager?
The role of a Product Manager in industry varies from company to company. Depending on the company definition, it’s a deeply technical person. Or it’s an outbound Product Marketing Manager, working to support marketing and sales. Or it’s a pure businessperson or a business/market analyst.
In IBM, with Offering Management, it’s all of the above. An OM has a broad role that considers the offering as a whole, the ecosystem around it, and all types of “users” whether they are end users, buyers or partners – and to signal the shift we’re making, we made an explicit renaming of the role in IBM. Also, this is why we’ve defined areas of specialized responsibility (go-to-market, solution ownership, analysis/research and business ops).
How are Offering Manager roles organized within the broader IBM?
Generally, each business unit has a number of General Managers (GMs) that manage strategic components of IBM’s overall business. Within each GM’s organization, there is usually an Offering Management (OM) team, along with Sales, Marketing, Design, Engineering, etc. The OM team is led by one or more Offering executives who provide direction to all Offering Managers that are leading the definition, delivery, and management of the offerings within the GM’s organization.
Can you explain the different responsibilities of the Offering Manager role?
As the voice of the business and the users, Offering Managers are responsible for an offering’s overall user experience and its profitability. We look for depth or experience in at least two of four areas of responsibilities and the raw potential to grow into all of them.
Market and user research
You understand deeply a business solution area within a target market segment. You can articulate and assess:
- Market Sizing
- Competitive Analysis
- User Problems
Solution owners take high-level user value ideas and map them into concrete, competitive offerings with compelling user experiences. You can articulate and execute:
- Experience-based roadmaps
- Agile prioritization
- In-market experiments
Go-To-Market work involves strategy and execution for all aspects of launching an offering and making it a winner by driving sales and marketing planning and execution. You articulate and assess:
Business operations responsibilities primarily focus on the financial aspects of offering development and delivery in order to ensure an offering will be profitable to IBM. You can articulate and assess:
- Business models
- Revenue & budgets
- Metrics & Key Performance Indicators
Early in their careers, Associate OMs have responsibilities in a couple of these facets based on education, initial experience, and passion. As they become well rounded Offering Managers, they’re expected to be able to perform in all these areas.
How does an Offering Manager interact across all other disciplines?
OMs interact and partner with, and provide leadership and direction to, other functions (like Design, Engineering, Sales, Marketing, Support, Legal, Finance, etc.) that make up the broad offering team. You’ll lead this broader team, often by influence, always backed by data and voicing your users, toward creating exceptional outcomes for our users.
Does an Offering Manager have any customer interactions?
You’d better. We don’t dream up things we think are cool, we build products grounded in users and markets – and just as important as existing customers are people not using our products. You’ll experience this during your first few weeks of Bootcamp, where you’ll meet with sponsor users for your products.
What’s IBM Design Thinking and what does it mean for Offering Managers?
IBM Design Thinking is the approach our offering managers use to create differentiated and emotional experiences for users. Remember the first time you used your favorite phone app, or that bike ride that made you feel like a pro? IBM Design Thinking is how we make those experiences at IBM. You can learn more about it here.
Apply here: ibm.biz/AOMprogram