I LOVED my chat with Jeremy. He is a man who values authenticity in his personal and professional life, and he found a company - GoPro - that prizes that as well. In this interview we do a deep dive on both the Product Management and Product Marketing roles. We talk about Business School, and how to evaluate whether this is the right path for you. We talk about how what you did in undergrad and what you did in the military can inform what you do, but don’t have to dictate your path. And we talk about why Veterans may love working at a company with a physical product, just like GoPro.
Jeremy Hendricks is a Product Marketing Manager at GoPro. He started out at the University of Scranton, and served in the US Army for 9 years - as Army Signal Corps officer, and then with the US Army Special Forces as a Detachment Commander, where his team specialized in military free fall ops and Special Reconnaissance. After his military service he got his MBA at the Berkeley Haas School of Business, where he did an internship with GoPro. Since graduation, he has worked at GoPro for nearly four years, starting as a Product Manager.
StoryBox- People trust each other more than advertising. StoryBox provides the tools and supports businesses need to take the best things customers say about them, and use them to drive more sales and referrals. StoryBox offers a 10% discount to companies employing veterans of the US Armed Forces.
Info about Jeremy
Wild Ideas Worth Living podcast- REI Co-Op, eclectic group of inspirational and aspirational stories of people out there creating businesses around their passion and dream, and sharing their story.
This American Life - a podcast Jeremy started listening to and really enjoys.
This INSPIRING video from GoPro - Community sourced highlight reel for their most recent camera. YouTube Hero 7 Black million dollar challenge.
Transcript & Time Stamps:
Joining me today from Manhattan is Jeremy Hendricks. Jeremy Hendricks is a Product Marketing Manager at GoPro. He started out at the University of Scranton, and served in the US Army for 9 years - as Army Signal Corps officer, and then with the US Army Special Forces as a Detachment Commander, where his team specialized in military free fall ops and Special Reconnaissance.
After his military service he got his MBA at the Berkeley Haas School of Business, where he did an internship with GoPro. Since graduation, he has worked at GoPro for nearly four years, starting as a Product Manager.
Can you tell us more about your transition out of the military?
I had reached a point where I had done everything I had wanted to do. As I was exploring different options, I had a lot of friends that were going to business school. Through conversations with them, it sounded like getting my MBA would allow me to make a smoother transition out of the military.
Berkeley Haas was a great culture fit for me and it really helped me transition out of the military successfully.
How does someone know if the MBA is right for them?
During my time in the military, I was completely engrossed in what I was doing. I wasn’t listening to This American Life podcasts on the side and I really didn’t have a good idea of what was going on in other industries or career fields.
So I started by talking to people that were already in MBA programs. I did a ton of research but honestly the best perspective was given to me by veterans that were already in MBA programs. They were able to give me advice and help me think about what I would want to do after school.
I really encourage people to reach out because I’ve never met a veteran in graduate school that isn’t willing to talk to other military members or veterans about their careers.
Can you describe the work that GoPro does?
GoPro was my dream gig. I remember being on my last deployment watching GoPro videos and thinking that it would be awesome to work here.
The cameras are small, rugged, and waterproof. They are very easily portable. People have been using for extremely compelling footage. The creativity people have shown is really impressive.
How did the internship with GoPro come about?
When I got to Berkeley, GoPro was one of my target companies. In between your first and second year of business school, you do an internship. I was targeting GoPro for that internship and eventually was put in touch with someone from their operations team.
I found out that a few years prior to this, Special Forces was doing some testing for a GoPro product. So when I arrived for my internship, all the feedback the Special Forces had provided were still there. So it was kind of serendipitous that I ended up at GoPro. What I was really passionate about was the product so I focused my efforts on getting into product management.
Can you describe a little bit more about product management?
When I started in product management, you’re thinking about what you what you ideally want the product to do. For us, we wanted to enable people to capture and share their world in inspirational ways. So I wanted to start by learning more about how these products are developed. It was really fun to learn more about taking something from an idea all the way to being able to go into a store and buy that product.
For me, it was a steep learning curve. I was working day in and day out with our developers- the people that would provide coding for us and decide on what materials to use to make the product.
Simultaneously, I was also planning for the next product that would come after that. So it’s a lot of late nights with the engineers developing the product in a way that will solve the problems you want it to.
I loved my time as a product manager but then after a while I wanted to increase my breadth of knowledge. Being in product management as my first job after the military gave me time to explore a little bit. And then becoming a product marketing manager, I became more focused on the customer experience and how people would receive our product.
How would someone know if this career path might be a good fit for them?
This was something I targeted in business school but I really didn’t know if it was good fit until I actually started doing it.
I think no matter what you’re interested in, you just won’t know until you try it. For me, what made it click was that in product management there are a lot of black and white decisions. That resonated with me as someone coming from the military. I felt like I was taking something creative and turning it into an actionable result.
For product marketing, it just ended up being the next step for me. Once I got my feet wet with product management, I was ready to expand my horizons a little bit.
How essential was an MBA in getting you on the career path you’re on now?
A lot of people ask me that -- I really believe it depends on the person. Each person has a different experience that may make the MBA a good or bad decision. You really need to talk to people that are in careers you’re interested in to get more information about whether or not that might be a good choice for you.
For me, it was vital. For me to show up at GoPro’s doorstep, it would have been a much larger leap for them to take the chance on me. It gave me credibility as having a baseline business knowledge.
Why should people considering working for GoPro?
If you’re someone that values culture about everything else, this is a great place for you. Coming out of Special Forces, I knew that I wasn’t going to be happy with just any job. I really wanted to be passionate about what I was doing.
So if you’re looking at a company like GoPro, it’s a mix between really reveling in that culture and find what technical skills and functions you can contribute.
Do you have any resources you recommend?
Leaving the military, I really wanted to stay in the outdoors space. I really like the podcast Wild Ideas Worth Living by REI.
I also recommend This American Life. That has really expanded by perspective on society.
You’re doing something completely different now than what you did in the military. Can you talk a little bit about that transition?
I advise people not to pigeonhole themselves. So many people do something completely different than what they studied during undergrad. You’re never locked into a specific path. That was the case for me after getting my degree in International Studies. What helped me was getting some time and space away from that. As I started to get more real world experience, I started to distance myself from that. You’re not locked into anything.
Serving as a Special Forces officer was much more compelling than anything I was thinking about during undergrad so keep yourself open to different possibilities.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with listeners?
You just don’t know what you don’t know. So if you have an idea about something you might want to pursue, try it. Don’t think because you don’t have a particular background, that you can’t try it.
The second thing I would say is that you can’t underestimate what your military transition will be like. Regardless of why you’re getting out, don’t underestimate the transition. Take the time to think about your time in the service and where you want to go in the future. The transition isn’t easy so you really need to give yourself time for introspection.