World of Work: Trevor Mullen, '96, Product Development Manager for SKLZ

Trevor Mullen '96

Trevor Mullen, ’96

Product Development Manager for SKLZ
Carlsbad, CA

Major: History

How would you describe what you do on a typical day to someone who is unfamiliar with your field?

In short, I make functional equipment for people who play sports. What that really means on a day-to-day basis is that I work at identifying new product concepts and seeing them through from start to finish. I begin with our professional athletes and evaluating the potential financial viability of products they suggest. If a concept has a real opportunity to satisfy a need and there is a void in a marketplace, then I work with our designers to take a product from a concept to an actual package of drawings and specifications that a factory can interpret. I work directly with factories in Asia and have prototypes and actual samples made, with lots of changes through out in order to have a working model. During that process, I am also working closely with our sales and marketing teams to see which major retailers and international distributors will be taking the products, and then working on building content (videos, instructions, positioning) to add value to the product in the package.

I manage a division of a company that makes functional fitness equipment and this process is replicated across 50 or so different active products. It takes a lot of organization and familiarity within this field.

What advice do you have for students searching for jobs or internships in your field?

Realize that when you start out, your job is not going to be glamorous. You may be in a field that you love, but the actual job might not match your dreams. If you find yourself getting frustrated with the day-to-day responsibilities, be patient and think about your career over the long term.

Ask yourself if you want to work for a big company or a start up. They both have pluses and minuses with regards to your early career. Read a lot of books and articles about the companies and jobs you are looking to work at. Remember that the market is very competitive and if you don’t have direct experience, then you have to rely on your knowledge to stand out.

What three words best describe your work environment?

Busy, Demanding, Exciting.

What is your favorite part of your work? Most challenging part?

Working with professional athletes and building new product that doesn’t exist anywhere else. Keeping up with emails and small communications. The little details kill me.

How did your time at UVM, both in the classroom and out of the classroom, prepare you for your position?

The biggest thing I got out of my time at UVM that I use all day every day is managing deadlines and learning how to communicate effectively. I also learned how to collaborate in a group dynamic, while both listening and contributing. UVM’s class sizes really enabled me to practice and learn this skill.

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