From Front-end Developer to Product Owner

How I switched from being a Front-end developer to a Product Owner


I remember the time when I first fell in love with coding by myself like if it was yesterday. I always got good scores at school on programming subjects, but it was on the university (yeah at the wrong career) when I was in a Sanborn’s store sightseeing at the books section and then I found a special section for “technology”. And there was a book that caught my attention…

Flex 4.0 Book

“Flex 4.5 Flash platform for professionals”, I was so curious about this, it was like a force telling me “you should learn this” so I spontaneously bought the book and I finished like in 2 or 3 days. In the same week, I searched over the internet comparing what I’ve been reading to what other people were doing and what technologies they were using to create websites and I discovered that flash was on its way out and that HTML was gaining more terrain, then the force told me “Okay… better switch to HTML then…”

So I did jump into the HTML universe. Yes, I also bought a new book about HTML and CSS. 🤷🏻‍♀️

I spent so much time in blogs, forums, tutorials, videos, and the unforgettable stack overflow (before you judge me, I bet you have used it too) site learning about how to create a website in HTML by following standards, learning about how to animate with CSS, frameworks like Bootstrap, but that’s not all. I wanted to learn how to design it by myself, I was pretty handy with Photoshop so I first created the wireframes then utilized it, and then developed them.

But that’s not all! I also wanted to position the websites so I had to learn about SEO, how search engines work, what I had to include in the website to get better results. And then it came also something called UX, which I was so interested to learn too. How to understand psychologically my users and create a whole solution based on their needs?

Everything was connected, I had so many AHA moments, the whole internet universe was there for me to learn to do everything I wanted.

I spent many years being a Web Designer and front-end developer. I was doing everything: designing the solution, creating the website and it’s logic, applying UX for the benefit of the users, and also making them visible for search engines. I kept going like this for many years, and I was really happy about it. But something started to happen to me. It was just not enough.

"Scientia potentia est" or in other words " Knowledge is power" by Francis Bacon.

I realized that I often knew about everything but I was not making decisions about the end product, because I was not “the owner” of the product. There was no opinion-weight on my side. Yes, people often consulted me to understand some stuff usually technical stuff, but that didn’t mean that they were going to follow my advice too. Even though I knew a decision was going to harm the whole user experience I couldn’t change that at all. This situation was hurting me.

I wanted to make the right decisions for users driven by data analysis and testing, generate a proper strategy I wanted to do more for the users and the whole product.

Later that same year I had the opportunity to work at a company where the position was worth paying but the activities of that role were not plenty satisfactory. I stopped to code because it was not necessary as we were using a CMS to publish changes on the website. There were massive requests and something to fix every day. Anyway, I stuck to it.

I stuck not for the salary, yet because I started to notice something. Big companies lack new and fresh knowledge. They use their everyday processes and most of the time they don’t change rapidly across time. I saw this as an opportunity and I started to care more about the company, what do they do and why, how, where, etc.

Understanding the company goals and trying to improve my work quality became one of my personal goals, I’ve always been kind of a perfectionist in my skills so I started to adapt to the company environment and prove I was worth it.

In a blink of an eye. My manager notice my skills and enthusiasm and gave the best opportunity of all. I was going to be head of a new process in the company, they were lacking quality in the publication team. They needed a head that could guide them to all of the steps to publish web pages with good quality standards.

I was shocked, people really saw my effort and now I was given the opportunity I wanted for the last 2 years.

After that everything became smooth, I started to receive other projects and make a reputation in the company, and this year I took the position of Product Owner. I saw it as a big challenge to grow and understand more about the whole experience of delivering a product. All the stages, implications, teams involved.

I realize now that being a Product Owner is not easy at all. But I’m amazed at what the role is capable of and there is so much to learn that I feel so excited about the upcoming years of my career.

I’m so thankful to me for never giving up and for all the people that have supported me during this time. It seems that there is no end in this role but that something I like always be improving myself and what surrounds me.

I hope you liked my story, in the next posts I’ll cover case studies and some experiences, challenges, frustrations, tips & tricks, etc.

You can also see my post in instagram:

© 2023, developed with ☕️ and ❤️ by Elena Calvillo