Debbie Kite – Product Manager

2 min 7 August 2023

When I look back at how I got here, I can see how it might look like I’ve had many different careers. I can see the common threads though, and perhaps you will too by the end of this story…

When I was little, I wanted to be a ballet dancer or a gymnast! By the time I was a teenager, that had given way to something science related as I started to devour popular science books, most significantly John Gribbin’s excellent and mind-bending In Search of Schrodinger’s Cat. I went to Oxford to study Engineering, which suited me because it was very analytical and not so hands-on – just like me.

I spent time working as a Civil Engineer but was soon drawn back to academia, first to do a Masters in environmental science and then a PhD in climate science. I was never a pure academic though, always more interested in the application of the science in the “outside world”, and I started to lead large collaborative software projects, and consult for a range of clients who wanted to build digital services on environmental data. I worked with large commercial organisations, various parts of government, many universities, space agencies and small start-ups. It’s safe to say I enjoy variety.

It was only when I was leading the development of a new product – a two-year journey from a 3-month demonstrator to first commercial customer – and working with UX designers for the first time, that I discovered the world of Product Management. Finally, it all made sense! Here was a role where I could apply my analytical skills, collaborate with brilliant people, and build things in a way that solved real problems out there in the real world for real people, and with real commercial implications.

After some time spent working on a range of different products with differently shaped teams, including the wonderful OS Maps app, I spotted that a digital transformation company in Reading was looking for a Product Manager. I knew that I wanted to combine my experience as a consultant with my skills in product development, so I jumped at the opportunity. After the lockdown year when I worked remotely, I was also looking forward to being able to spend more time in an office with colleagues again.

FSP provides all the things you’d expect from a modern company – good tech, a hybrid working model, flexible hours, with an added commitment to an excellent workplace culture that is refreshing. I felt valued from day one, both in terms of my professional skills but also as a rounded human with a family and outside interests too. I spent most of my first year here embedded with a key client, but now I am working with more of FSP’s clients in a consultancy role and have the chance to define and drive the strategy for product management as a whole, which I am grasping with both hands! I am loving the opportunities to mentor and coach other members of the team too – this is a company overflowing with talented and friendly people, and I am proud to be a part of it.