From NYU to Product Leadership: A Journey of Discovery and Mastery

From NYU to Product Leadership: A Journey of Discovery and Mastery

As I reflect on my journey to becoming a senior product leader, it's evident that my academic foundation at New York University Shanghai played a pivotal role in shaping my career trajectory. Pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Interactive Media and Business was, in many ways, my initiation into the world of product management, even before I fully grasped the term.

The Unseen Path to Product Management

The Interactive Media and Business program at NYU Shanghai was more than just a degree; it was a revelation. It introduced me to the intricate dance between technology, user experience, and business strategy. Before I even knew what product management was, I was being equipped with the skills and mindset of a product manager.

Courses like Design Thinking and User Experience Design instilled in me the importance of user-centric design, teaching me to approach problems with empathy and creativity. Digital Business Strategy and Economics of Global Business provided a deep understanding of how digital transformations shape industries and the global economic landscape.

Entrepreneurship Explored and Minimum Viable Product courses were instrumental in fostering an entrepreneurial mindset, emphasizing the importance of lean methodologies and rapid prototyping in product development. Experimental Interfaces and Physical Computing pushed the boundaries of what I thought was possible, encouraging me to think outside the box and envision innovative solutions.

Courses like Information Technology in Business & Society and Programmable Trust Blockchains highlighted the profound impact of technology on society and businesses, while Management and Organizations and Negotiation and Consensus Building from NYU Stern School of Business honed my leadership and collaboration skills.

Film, Business, and the Art of Storytelling

My minors in Film Producing at NYU Tisch and Business of Entertainment, Media, and Technology at NYU Stern were not mere diversions; they were integral to my growth. Creating an award-winning film at NYU Tisch was not just about storytelling; it was about project management, team collaboration, and bringing a vision to life – all essential skills for a product manager.

Hands-On Creation at NYU

At NYU, my education extended beyond theory; it was deeply rooted in hands-on creation. I delved into web development with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, explored the immersive world of 3D games using Unity and C#, and crafted virtual experiences for the Oculus headset. One standout project was the design of an interactive escape room experience, blending digital elements with real-world interactivity through tools like Arduino. These diverse projects honed my problem-solving skills and innovative thinking. For a deeper dive into my creations, visit the Projects section of my website. This foundational knowledge in building and understanding technology has been instrumental in my role as a product manager, allowing me to bridge technical and business realms with ease.


Throughout my academic journey, I was honored to receive several awards that recognized my dedication and excellence:

  • Cum Laude Latin Honors (May 2019): Awarded by New York University Shanghai for outstanding academic performance.

  • Founders Day Award (May 2019): A prestigious honor from New York University, recognizing students who have consistently showcased outstanding scholarship. This award commemorates the granting of the University Charter and celebrates those who have achieved the highest levels of scholastic excellence.

  • NYU Shanghai Excellence Award (May 2019): Following the tradition of Chinese universities, NYU Shanghai awarded me this honor, known as 上海纽约大学优秀毕业生, for being in the top 20 percent of graduates based on academic performance.

  • Dean's List: Recognized for academic excellence in both 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 by NYU, this accolade is given to students who achieve a Grade Point Average of 3.65 or above.

  • NYU Recognition Awards (2017 & 2018): These awards, issued by New York University, are based on a combination of academic performance and campus involvement.

Connecting the Dots

Today, as I lead product teams and shape digital strategies, I often draw upon the knowledge and experiences from my time at NYU. The awards and honors I received, including the Cum Laude Latin Honors and the Founders Day Award, are not just accolades but affirmations of my commitment to excellence and continuous learning.

In hindsight, every course, every project, and every interaction during my time at NYU was a building block, preparing me for a career in product management. The global perspective I gained from transitioning between Shanghai and NYC, combined with a multidisciplinary academic foundation, has been invaluable.

My journey from NYU to product leadership has been one of discovery, growth, and mastery. Looking back, it all makes perfect sense. The seeds of product thinking were sown during my time at NYU, and I'm grateful for the experiences and lessons that have shaped my path.

Today, as I lead product teams and shape digital strategies, I often draw upon the knowledge and experiences from my time at NYU. Alongside my academic pursuits, I held various jobs and internships that enriched my practical understanding of the industry. Details of these roles can be found in the Experience section on my website.

I invite readers to explore the section detailing my time at Columbia University, where I further evolved into an entrepreneur and a product leader, building on the foundation set at NYU.

© 2023 Gabriela Naumnik. All rights reserved.