Skip to main contentA logo with &quat;the muse&quat; in dark blue text.
Advice / Career Paths / Career Stories

This Product Manager at Meta Is Helping to Revolutionize the Future of Avatars

Felix N., a product manager at Meta
Felix N., a product manager at Meta.
| Courtesy of Meta

If Felix N. has anything to do with it, anyone who spends time in the metaverse will soon be able to have more freedom than ever to be whoever—or whatever—they want. That’s because he’s part of the Avatars and Identity team at Meta, which is working to help redefine how people can virtually represent themselves, from human-like avatars to identities that defy conventional human characteristics.

It’s an all-in effort, says Felix, a product manager, “to make digital representation the most inclusive, most diverse, and most open in the industry.”

Before he was contributing to a ground-breaking project at Meta, Felix was a first-generation college student from East Harlem who wasn’t quite sure what he wanted to do as a career. After studying political science, graduating as valedictorian, and getting into law school (but not going), he landed a job in finance as a compliance associate—work that eventually didn’t feel fulfilling enough.

“I craved something mission driven that would allow me to be more creative and have a direct impact on people in my day-to-day life,” Felix says. “I wanted to contribute to a change in how people lived, socialized, and interacted. Job hunting with this in mind, I naturally gravitated towards tech.”

As a life-long gamer, Felix set his sights on working within the field of virtual reality (VR), eventually landing a role at Meta shortly after the company acquired Oculus.

Here, he shares his secret to pivoting from finance to tech, how he found a community of like-minded Afro-Latinx colleagues at Meta, and the book that helps hold him accountable to his goal of having meaningful impact.

What steps did you take to prepare for your career change before applying for product/tech jobs?

The first step I took was identifying what I did and did not want in the next chapter of my career. This led me to be laser focused in my searches, interview prep, and skill development while job hunting. I knew I wanted to work at a mission-driven company that focused on VR. I knew I no longer wanted to go to law school or work in compliance or finance.

The second step, which I believe was the most important in this process, was working with recruiting companies and friends in tech to help me translate my experience to relevant roles outside of finance. Much of this involved breaking down in granular detail what I did and getting their thoughts on how my existing responsibilities translated to roles in their companies. After dozens of conversations, I had a eureka moment: Although my job title was a “regulatory audits compliance associate,” the responsibilities were similar to product operations, product specialist, and junior product management roles that existed in tech companies.

Ultimately, my first job at Meta was a product specialist role. Three years later, I transitioned into product management in VR. I would have never learned of or felt qualified for a role like this if I had not gone through the above process. It took me seven months of soul searching, leveraging my network, and interviewing to find the right opportunity.

Why did it feel like the right place to begin your new career? How did you know product was the path for you?

The more I learned about Meta, the more I wanted to be there. They embrace purpose-driven work, are pushing boundaries with new tech, and believe in autonomy over your own time. It was a high-intensity environment with an open culture and a hint of the fun and creativity that I craved. It felt like the perfect fit. This all proved to be true once I joined, and it remains true 6.5 years later.

I learned what product management truly entailed after my first couple of months at Meta. The role involves responsibilities that give me energy and requires a mindset that comes naturally to me. To confirm that it was a good fit, I took on PM-related responsibilities anywhere I could, and I even started side projects that allowed me to play the PM role on big ideas that eventually got funded by the company. When the time was right, I leveraged every corner of my network to find PM opportunities in VR, passed the (painful) interview loops, and eventually took on a Core UX PM role for our first version of Meta Quest.

How did you feel supported when you joined Meta, especially as someone with a non-traditional background and no prior experience in tech?

I felt an INSANE amount of imposter syndrome during my first day at Meta. Nothing could have prepared me for that, especially coming from a non-tech background and where not many people in the room looked like me. Fortunately, that feeling was short-lived. My onboarding focused on giving me the time I needed to learn everything necessary to be excellent at my job. I quickly realized that I was there for a reason and that my skill set was a perfect match for the role. I was paired with mentors and peers that helped me every step of the way in my first few months. I was given the space to learn, explore, and accomplish quick wins to boost my confidence.

What are you working on now that’s especially exciting or inspiring?

My purpose for the foreseeable future is to redefine how people can represent themselves in the metaverse. Much of the “identity” and “inclusion” conversations have been focused on ensuring more culturally aware digital skin tones, hair styles, and clothing. However, where does this conversation go when people are able to transform into fantastical beings or embody abstract forms that defy conventional human characteristics?

I’m excited to explore this question and one day allow people to represent themselves in ways that break the barriers of traditional identity. It’s inspiring to me that we are even dedicating resources to such a concept, which goes back to the reason I joined this company in the first place.

How does your team make a real-world impact?

We’re all working on changing the way people interact with the real and virtual world, socialize with each other, and live their lives. My immediate team is focused on letting you do things you couldn’t do in the physical world with people you can’t physically be with, all while representing yourself however you’d like.

We’re defying distance in ways never done before, helping people have meaningful co-present experiences, and redefining “identity.” I truly believe we are introducing a paradigm shift to what is possible over the next 10 to 20 years.

How have you fostered a community at work since joining Meta about 6.5 years ago? How has this impacted your experience at the company?

The most important part of my experience at Meta are the employee resource groups (ERGs) they have created for people of diverse backgrounds. The role these ERGs play in making people feel supported is invaluable. Because I identify as Afro-Latinx, I am most involved with Black@Meta and Latin@Meta.

These community groups host networking events for career development, meet and greets with company leadership, skill-building opportunities, and social events so that we can build relationships outside of work. The opportunities I’ve stumbled across and the life-long friendships I’ve developed through these groups have made a world of a difference.

It’s very hard to not find your community at Meta, and if you in fact do not find one, you’re encouraged to create it yourself. A perfect example of this is from my own experience. I started noticing a small group of people were often attending both Black@Meta and Latin@Meta events like I was. After some discussion, we created Afro-Latin@Meta to help bridge the gaps between the two community groups for a stronger sense of belonging for Afro-Latinx employees. Starting Afro-Latinx@Meta is one of my proudest moments here.

We understand you are passionate about mentoring younger folks at Meta. Why is this important to you?

I am the product of 10-plus nonprofit organizations that have changed the trajectory of my life. The most impactful were New Heights Youth Inc., The Honors Program in Legal Studies at CCNY’s Colin Powell School, and America Needs You. In my professional career, I’ve benefited from mentorship and sponsorship that helped me learn about career accelerating opportunities, become better at my job, and navigate the corporate environment. Because of the life-changing impact that mentorship and sponsorship have had on me, I am super intentional about helping others. I spend time on 1:1 mentorship, coaching, and motivational speeches, especially for people of diverse backgrounds within and outside of Meta.

What is some of the most important advice you impart to the people you mentor?

Never underestimate the power of mentorship and sponsorship. You should never find yourself without one, and you should always have more than one.

Be intentional, but patient, about finding a job with responsibilities that give you energy. Some people seek out and stay in certain jobs due to prestige or compensation, but they despise the responsibilities the role entails. Never find yourself in this position. Life is too short to hate how you spend over 66% of your waking hours.

What is something most people would be surprised to learn about you?

For anyone that doesn’t know me, they would be shocked to know how much of a thrill seeker I am. I’ve gone wing walking (my all-time favorite experience!), skydiving (twice), scuba diving, paragliding, motorcycle racing, car racing, and cliff jumping.

My happiest moments are when I’m doing something insane. I’m always pushing myself to do the extreme and seeking out an exciting thrill to remind myself of how facing our fears head-on can be liberating. Once you land back on the ground after standing upside-down on the wing of a plane in mid air at 5,000 feet, it really puts fears such as public speaking or pushing for a promotion into perspective.

What are you currently reading, watching, and/or listening to?

I’m currently re-reading Start with Why. A mentor gifted this book to me in college, and it had such an impact on me that I return to it every few years. The book emphasizes the importance of understanding the why behind what we do in every aspect of our lives. It mostly focuses on organizational and leadership settings, but these concepts can also be applied to everyday life.

I re-read it to check-in with myself and see whether or not my day-to-day truly aligns with my “why,” which has evolved over time. Each time, it has triggered a reset in my thinking and a re-evaluation of how I spend my time and energy. It made me reconsider going to law school, re-evaluate why I was working in finance, and most recently led me to explore opportunities where I can have an even more direct impact on people’s lives through my work in VR. I am my best self and feel most fulfilled when all that I’m doing is aligned with my “why,” so I strive to be in that state at all times.