Five years ago, Clover Health COO Wilson Keenan got his first job in product management. Before that, he was a line cook. It wasn’t his only work experience, but it’s what stood out to the man who hired him, Jim Patterson — then Chief Product Officer at Yammer, now CEO of cannabis technology startup Eaze. In fact, it fit into a broader hiring philosophy Patterson subscribes to: chefs and soldiers make excellent product managers.
“Both the military and professional kitchens are environments where there’s zero tolerance for slackers and indecision — you have to be on all the time, working quickly under high pressure,” says Mr. Patterson.
Making good decisions quickly isn’t the only quality PMs need that military or kitchen experience instills. There’s a whole checklist Patterson looks for whenever he makes product hires:
* Being able to lead without authority.
* Always taking blame while giving credit away.
* Strong decision-making with imperfect information.
* Valuing intense preparation.
* Methodical in how they recover from mistakes and crises.
* Operating optimally under extreme pressure.