- Halynne Shi is a Product Manager at Spotify.
- However, her first job after graduation was in the aviation industry, working for Changi Airport Group.
- See said the transition from aviation to technology was a roller coaster.
This told essay is based on a conversation with. Harin Sea, is a product manager at Spotify and previously worked at Changi Airport Group. The following has been edited for length and clarity. Business Insider has confirmed her employment history.
When I started thinking about my career path after high school, I was quite the dreamer.
At the time, I thought it would be cool to be a diplomat. I had grand ideas about what a career in diplomacy would entail, including flying around the world and brokering peace treaties over coffee.
Of course, the reality turned out to be completely different. I majored in international relations at university, but did not pursue a career in diplomacy.
Since I was still interested in world affairs, I decided to pursue a career in international business instead.
That led me to start my career with Changi Airport Group, the world's best airport manager.
Cut your teeth across rotations
During my time with Changi Airport Group, I completed three rotations.
In 2017, I took my first job in business development. The airline development team I was assigned to was responsible for brokering partnerships with airlines.
Working on that post was like taking a crash course on the aviation industry. We learned about the intricacies of the industry and how airlines adjust their routes to and from Singapore.
I moved on to my second post about a year later. This time, I belonged to the passenger development team and was involved in a project to increase passenger traffic from China and Southeast Asian countries.
But it was in my last position in Product Operations that I actually found my calling. In 2020, I joined Changi Airport's e-commerce division known as iShopChangi.
Working on an airport e-commerce platform allowed me to roll up my sleeves and dive into the nitty gritty of product development. It was like putting together a puzzle to identify innovative solutions to increase airport efficiency.
My time at Changi Airport was a whirlwind of learning and growth. Working in the travel and aviation industry was like being handed a backstage pass to the world stage.
I'm itching for a new challenge
After spending over four years at airports, I was itching for a new challenge.
At that point, my work history was a mosaic of business development, marketing, and operations experience.
While each post gave a specific perspective on how the business works, I was looking for a deeper understanding of how these elements fit together.
That's what drew me to the technology industry. We thought the dynamic nature of this industry would make it the perfect playground for anyone who wants to see the direct impact of their work.
I left Changi Airport Group and joined shopping and rewards platform Shopback as a Product Manager.
The learning curve was like a roller coaster
When I started working as a product manager, I had no formal technical training. I had no training on the product. The learning curve was like a roller coaster ride.
Eventually, I realized I could use my experience in a new role. The skills you acquire in business development, marketing, and streamlining operations are transferable.
That said, I don't want to gloss over my transition into the tech industry. This transition certainly wasn't a walk in the park. It was a journey of self-discovery and learning how to utilize my skills.
Now, I have learned how to succeed in the technology industry by differentiating myself with unique experiences.
These two fields are completely different
Changing the industry has changed my way of thinking.
Although incorporated, Changi Airport operates in the highly regulated aviation sector. For example, airports must comply with multiple international regulations such as the Airspace Convention. We also had to negotiate and collaborate with various parties and government agencies.
In comparison, e-commerce companies like Shopback are less regulated and can react more quickly.
The delivery speed of the product was faster, which I welcomed. At Shopback, we have more autonomy to build products and make decisions.
The team at Shopback also became leaner, which meant I was closer to the key decision makers within the company.
I enjoy my current job and have no regrets about starting my career at Changi Airport.
The structured learning that comes from working in a large organization is helpful. If I had started my career in the tech industry, it would have been much more difficult to understand. The technology industry is more fluid and volatile.
I didn't know it at the time, but those years at Changi Airport helped lay the foundation for me to become the product manager I am today.
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