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Student Profile

Sam Hambre

Product Manager, Digital and Cybersecurity Solutions at Mastercard

Course Taken

Product Management

Course Type

Part-time Certificate Course

Key Skills Learned

  • Agile Methodology
  • Product Development
  • Prototyping
View Course Details
Sam Hambre

Interview

Where are you working currently and what is it that you do there?

I currently work at MasterCard as a Product Manager as part of the Digital and Cyber Security Solutions team.

As a Product Manager at MasterCard, can you tell us a bit more about your day-to-day?

My day-to-day is built around scaling digital and cyber security products with our partners. If you’ve ever bought anything online using MasterCard, you’ve used our technology – and there’s a fair bit that goes into making that work.

From a product side, it’s all about working with our teams all around the world. We want to make sure that we're all doing the right things in our respective regions, but at the same time making sure that we're consistent globally.

Can you tell us about your education and career background? How did you get to where you are now?

I went to university and got a degree in accounting. I did that for maybe a year and a half and then I realized that it definitely wasn’t for me. After that point I thought about the skills that I had and how I would be able to pivot into something more interesting. I used my skills and took on analytical and marketing roles following that. While taking on differing roles at various companies, I had discovered that I really enjoyed doing more creative work. I figured going to work for a digital agency would be an interesting challenge.

Once I began working at the agency as a Project Manager, I realized that I really enjoyed working on digital projects. I thought managing a product would be a great challenge so at that point, I decided to go to BrainStation; where I took the Product Management Certificate Course.

During that time I started working at telecommunications company as a Product Manager on their smart home product portfolio. I did that for a few years and really enjoyed it and that’s when I was approached by MasterCard to take on my current role. I didn’t have a background in fintech but my enthusiasm and curiosity really showed my employer that I was adaptable and I could learn on the go.

Why did you choose to study at BrainStation?

What I really liked about BrainStation was that I had a chance to meet with some of the Instructors. I felt like they had a lot of real world experience, and the content was very practical. That aspect of it really appealed to me. You were able to hit the ground running. When I took the course I was working a full-time job, so time was of the essence. I really wanted to upskill myself and try to be as efficient as possible. The scheduling options, the Instructors, and the overall community is what really led me to BrainStation.

Once I had attended one of their Info Sessions I knew it was going to be a good fit.

What I really liked about BrainStation was that I had a chance to meet with some of the Instructors. I felt like they had a lot of real world experience, and the content was very practical. You were able to hit the ground running.

What would you say was the highlight of your learning experience at BrainStation?

It was twofold for me. Meeting the other people that took the course and meeting the Instructors – I felt like that really helped shape my career. The content was great, but it was the conversations that I had in-between classes, during the breaks, or after class that really made a difference. Those were the times where I had the opportunity to ask the questions that I needed to ask. When you're put in that kind of environment, you're encouraged to do so. It really forced me to ask some hard questions, some of which I wouldn't just be able to find answers to on Google. I was able to get clarity and it helped me make better decisions in my day-to-day job. Getting that direct insight was definitely a highlight for me.

The second highlight was that there's almost an unspoken message out in the workforce when you have these courses or certificates on your resume; it tells people that you’ve taken your career into your own hands and aren’t complacent.

What would you say was the most challenging part of your learning experience?

Managing your time, especially if you're doing it alongside a full-time job. Whether it’s in-person or remotely, you have to attend the classes, you have to read the material – if you are going to do it, you should go into it 100 percent.

Managing your time felt like a challenge, but I think that's where you should try to involve as many people into that process as possible. When I say that, I mean, talk to your boss about it, talk to the people around you about it, just so that they understand what you’re taking on and going through. Sometimes your employer can also help cover some of the costs to get digital skills training so it’s definitely a worthwhile conversation to have.

How has your BrainStation experience impacted your career?

Taking a BrainStation course is a great signal to future employers, it shows them that I take my career into my own hands. It shows them that I'm resourceful and proactive. I think those are things that all employers are looking for, especially in an environment where employees are being asked to do more with less.

It taught me to be resourceful, how to be smart with my time, and I was getting the skills I needed without being told to. Bosses look for that, the more resourceful and the more proactive you are, the better off you are going to be in your career.

What skills did you learn that you're still using today?

I was recently nominated as part of a small working group to take on a difficult problem within the company. They wanted to get some fresh perspectives around the problem. When I was thinking about how to solve the problem I thought back to some of the projects and work that we did in that product management course. It really helped me identify what the real problem was, and provided me with an organized way in which to tackle it. It’s those key problem-solving skills that stick with you and are impactful in the long run. Those are things that I still hold on to.

When I was thinking about how to solve the problem I thought back to some of the projects and work that we did in that product management course. It really helped me identify what the real problem was, and provided me with an organized way in which to tackle it. It’s those key problem-solving skills that stick with you and are impactful in the long run. Those are things that I still hold on to.

What advice would you give to professionals that are considering a BrainStation course or program?

Definitely think about where your passions lie, think about where your interests are and pursue those seriously. There's a lot of people that take courses for the sake of taking courses. I feel like if you're going to take the time to do it, do it properly. Invest in yourself, take it seriously and put your all into it. That’s how you're going to get the most out of it. And again, like I mentioned before, tell people that you're going through this learning journey. I think if you involve people then you are going through the course with your community. If you’re able to do that it'll be a meaningful and fruitful experience.

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