Sandra Wahiga is a Country Marketing Manager based in Nairobi, Kenya with a keen interest in the product marketing industry. When it came to signing up for the PMM Scholar Program we have at Product Marketing Alliance, she jumped at the opportunity. 

We reached out to Sandra about her experience with the program to understand a bit more about: 

How did you find out about the PMM Scholar Program?

I found out about the PMM Scholar Program through Twitter. I'd been following Product Marketing Alliance’s socials for a while because I've been learning about product marketing and that is my area of interest as a career. And so, through the social sites, I saw that they had a Scholar Program, and they had invited people to send in the applications - which I did straight away. 

What was your motivation for enrolling in this program?

Firstly, Product Marketing Alliance already as a brand has done a lot within the product marketing space. Secondly, the certification certainly adds more value to anyone else who's looking to show the worth of what they're doing. 

Product marketing, as most of you probably know, is not something that's been there for years. But our specialty has only been growing. To find an organization that's offering certification for this specific niche is something you don't find out there.

So, this was something I was really happy to find and plug into. I was really looking forward to just being able to have a certification for something that I am working on which I couldn’t find in my local community.

What did you enjoy most about the PMM Scholar Program?

One thing about this Scholar program is it's as technical as it may be fun! So, the class started as indicated on the scheduled day, and considering that a lot of us were still working people with other commitments, we had to dedicate some time to this. 

And apart from that, one of the things I loved was the tutor that we had. Her name is Div Manickam and she was very impactful in the journey. She took her time, she gave us projections from her own career. There was a lot of in-learning within the class. We would learn from each other, and from projects that we were already doing from our day-to-day work. 

And just to add on to that, I think the challenge was also that you had to take the time to put in the effort to learn. Some of these things were things you probably have seen on a day-to-day basis, but just taking the time to look at them differently, certainly added a different input to my understanding of product marketing. 

Which topic have you found the most insightful and useful?

I think I'd say storytelling because it's also the thing I love most about product marketing. When you're working toward launching a product, or when you are ideating a product that is going to meet users and meet their needs, you have to tap into what stories would make them connect with this product. 

That's the assignment that I took as my project - to write on storytelling and the impact it has on product marketing, and just being able to create copy and content that resonates with your audience. 

And everything else falls into that because you have to know your users, you have to create personas for them, for you to just be able to understand who you're telling the story to, and how the story connects with their day-to-day life.

What type of resources/activities have you found the most helpful?

We had access to product marketing resources, so we'd be able to read away from the classroom just to follow up.

Plus, part of our mentor Div’s learning was a lot of YouTube TED talks, which are very good, because it just gives us a bigger perspective on what we're working toward.

There's quite a lot packed into the Scholar Program. So, after each class, we’d be able to just read up, see the videos that have been created beforehand, and just delve into that. So there's quite enough resources provided. And if there was a need for extra reading, the PMA platform gave us a lot more to look into.

Have you used the resources already within your work?

Yeah, for sure! For instance - this really ties into what I was saying about storytelling, which is what I really love - one of the videos we watched was by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie called “The danger of a single story”. I remember literally after that class, putting it to my work colleagues and reiterating the same idea that many times we just look at things from one angle. 

Even as marketers, we tend to look at things with a bias. So, it's always good to remind yourself not to have a bias and not to look at things from one single story, or one single lens. 

So, I've used a lot of the resources that were provided on my day to do work and even shared that further with others. 

Has this program helped you to network?

Within the Scholar Program, we're able to meet some global PMMs, which is very nice, because you then meet people from different parts of the world with different ideas, with different ways of doing things, and you learn from that even through the program. 

But aside from that, after the program you get moved to the Product Marketing Alliance’s Slack community and I was actually very surprised to know that there is a group of people from Nairobi, which is the city I'm based in, which is really nice.

So, I stay connected with two of them and we'll hopefully look into having an in-person connection and create an association of people within the same industry here in Kenya.

Has there been any specific instance where the Scholar Program helped you overcome a professional challenge?

I'm applying what I learned from the Scholar Program on a day-to-day basis because the position I'm in right now is within product marketing. So, everything aligned really does make sense to what I'm doing on a day-to-day basis. 

But besides that, I think one of the hurdles that the Scholar Program helped with is the fact that now with certification, I think I'm able to approach more people, even on a consultancy basis. 

If I wanted to speak to do something beyond my day-to-day job, I'd be able to use my certification to say I’m accredited and, therefore, you can trust me to know what I'm saying. So, I think it has helped to overcome that hurdle.

It has also helped with having imposter syndrome because you prove to yourself that you know it. Having the certificates helps in that.

Was there anything specific that you thought set the Scholar Program apart from the others?

I’m not sure whether this sets it apart, but I had to send a video when I was applying that was a bit interesting. It really made me think about my real intention: What did I really want to gather from this? 

Also, knowing that this was global, meant there was a lot of competition for people to get into this program. It gave me some time to really think through how I wanted to present myself and ensure that I got the spot - and I'm happy that I did. 

I've also done a couple of other programs with other platforms. But there wasn’t as much mentorship as I feel that this program offered. Div was very hands-on. She'd ask consistent questions, then provide real-life-based answers to the solutions and also challenge us to think through some of the things we were doing, and how we could work through them better. 

And, I think the support in the follow-up is great. I'm still having conversations about it way after I was done with the Scholar Program. So that, I think, is a bit different from other programs that are offered out there.

What would you say to product marketing professionals who are considering applying to the Scholar Program? Do you have any advice for them?

I'd say: start now! When you see an opening, please take it up. Again, follow all the social platforms for Product Marketing Alliance, just to be in the know of when they open because the slots only happen about twice a year. So, you want to take up the opportunity when it comes up.

When you do get the opportunity, please give it your all. It's quite a good learning experience. The community is amazing. And so you always stay plugged into what is happening within the industry.

Apply to be in our next cohort!

Twice a year, we open the doors to 25 new or aspiring product marketers and put them through a part-time, 12-week program. By the end, you’ll have all the knowledge, tools, and training needed to start a successful career in product marketing.

But it doesn’t stop there. By being part of our Scholar Program, you’ll automatically be put in front of leading hiring companies, primed to kickstart your career in style.

What you get when you’re accepted: 

🔖 Product marketing certification (providing you pass the exams)

👩‍💻 Live, weekly workshops with industry leaders

✅ Marked, practical tasks to test your learning

👣 A platform to build your personal portfolio

🌎 Exposure to some of the world’s biggest brands

🔥 Official accreditation from the industry’s go-to association (aka, us!)

🆓 All of the above for free (worth $3,500 RRP)