Future of Work | Product & Project Management
Sold on Consulting: Meet Michael Macon
August Consultant of the Month
Based in Los Angeles, Michael Macon specializes in product marketing, with experience at American Express and currently at a fintech startup. He finds consulting a perfect way to manage personal finances while pursuing a burgeoning career in real estate.
What are you currently working on?
I’m a product marketing consultant for Nium, helping them build the foundations for a brand new product marketing team. They’re a global payments firm that’s been around for years, but now they're starting to invest in marketing as they scale, so it's been fun.
Michael's Keys to Success
- Following his dreams to live in California
- Leveraging expertise to find consulting work
- Knowing when it’s time to move on from an unfulfilling role
- Trying a new career during the pandemic
What path did you take to become a consultant?
In college, I started out in business to business marketing for Avis Budget Group. After college, I worked in their HR department as a compensation analyst. I moved to MTV Networks, working in the finance department for three years. That led me to American Express, where I managed finances for their international credit card business. From there, I went to product management, focusing on the customer experience for their lending products.
I always wanted to live in California, so I moved to LA and the tech world and the titles here are different. The person who owns the product is typically a product manager, but it’s more technical than my experience. I'm more of a marketing guy. So product marketing was the role that I fit into best, and that’s what I've been doing now at three different companies.
My last full-time role was at an incredibly fast-moving and prestigious startup. I started there the day they closed the office during the pandemic. I never got to meet any co-workers. It was a high pressure company with long hours, stressful work, and intense employees. Working from home, it was hard to build personal relationships. We were on the computer for 15-16 hours a day in constant meetings. I wasn't enjoying myself and it just wasn't worth it anymore. I decided to take some time off.
Since then, I've been forging a new path for myself. The pandemic made a lot of people re-evaluate careers and life decisions. I started studying real estate and decided to only do temporary jobs until things settled and we could get back into the office.
That’s what led me to EM. I had previously hired an EM consultant at an earlier company and it made me aware that there are temporary consulting opportunities. I reached out to EM and they connected me with Nium and it's been great ever since. I'm very happy with the decision.
What do you love about consulting?
Consulting is perfect for me because it allows me to pay my monthly bills while pursuing real estate, where you make very little money in the beginning. The fact that I can do these jobs and moonlight is amazing. Eventually, I’d like to do real estate full time.
In the meantime, since I've been doing product marketing for a while, it's relatively easy and companies need it. It’s fun to share my expertise and guide them along the way. As a consultant, I've been able to make decisions at a much higher level, at least in this particular role.
What are the things you like to do when the work slows down?
I have a pretty broad social life. I've been a CrossFitter for years, and I spend a lot of time doing that. I just moved to Los Angeles, so I go out randomly and explore — the beaches, the hiking, the restaurants, the bars. I love to ski as much as possible in the winter.
What’s one tip you would give to new consultants?
I think the benefits outweigh the negatives, if flexibility is something you're looking for. It could be scary to have a contract that ends after a certain amount of time or to not have a job for a while.
But in the end, you have this amazing freedom. When you work full time, you may never have time to take a long vacation. With consulting, I could work for six months and make the equivalent of a real salary. You're not taking a discount to do this and may even be getting a premium for your work. At the end of the job I can wait and take time off, or interview for a job while I'm on vacation and have a new one when I come back and not have any worries. That's incredible.