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What Does A Product Management Career Look Like?


Product management has become popular in recent years as consumer tastes evolve constantly. A gap to be filled became larger in organizations that are now experiencing low sales due to consumers’ evolution.

Hence, Product management became necessary in a company so that they can stay abreast of the market and create products for the emerging population.

While the roles of project manager and business analyst overlap with product management in some companies, they have different roles in the real sense.

Let me tell you what a product management career looks like…

What is Product Management?

The product manager identifies the consumer’s needs and the business goals that a product or service will fulfill and create a team to achieve the set goals.

In simpler terms, a product manager looks at the consumer needs for a product and services, aligns the needs with the company visions, and then creates a team that can achieve both goals; that is satisfying the customers’ needs and moving the company towards its organizational goals.

The following are the summary of the roles performed by product managers:

  • Research and highlight customers’ needs
  • Design a product that meets the customers need in line with the company’s goals
  • Develop and test run the production processes
  • Create a team to actualize the vision

While you may be thinking Product management is quite rosy, LinkedIn published that the demand for product managers have doubled in the last five years. It does not start from the role stated above, there are many steps on your way to the product manager and I am going to show you what you the roles

What are the necessary skills required of a product manager?

Product management combines strategy, design, leadership, and marketing to launch a successful product.

It has many responsibilities and intertwines with many other business roles; it is often misunderstood and can look different from company to company. There are several core skills product managers need to be successful:  

  • Strategic thinking
  • Technical proficiency
  • UX background
  • Business mindset
  • Strong project management
  • Clear communication
  • Listening
  • Collaboration

What is the Product Manager’s Career Path?

Like I said earlier, there are steps or roles embedded in project management, these roles give the picture of what the career looks like. A list of typical product management roles

  • Associate Product Manager
  • Product Manager
  • Senior Product Manager
  • Director of Product
  • VP of Product
  • Chief Product Officer

Fig 1. Flowchart of Product management career path

Associate Product Manager

They have a similar job to a product manager, but on a smaller scale. They set priorities for the projects and keep both manager and teammates in the know.

Associate product managers must demonstrate empathy for the consumers and be able to identify issues and opportunities. It is an entry-level product role, hiring managers are looking for candidates who understand what product management is.

Candidates must also have a clear interest in and passion for the customer. Hiring managers also prefer if you have experience in product or project management.

You must be curious and be able to ask the right questions at the right time to stand out as an associate product manager.

What are the Responsibilities of an Associate Product Manager?

  • Associate product managers prioritize tasks with a defined set of constraints: They do not determine which tasks they’re performing, but they prioritize decisions around the tasks or projects they’re assigned.
  • They collaborate daily with other product team members and other adjacent teams like UX and engineering: they’ll communicate the status of their product to all relevant stakeholders. The job is to balance business objectives and customer needs by reconciling the business’s goals with benefits.
  •  The associate product manager answers the ‘this is what we’re doing and why we’re doing it” question. They rely on metrics to determine success.

Associate Product Manager Job Description (Illustration);

  • Contributing to problem and solution discovery efforts by conducting internal stakeholder and customer interviews and research, and developing and running experiments to validate concepts
  • planning, grooming, demos, and retrospectives
  • Working closely with Engineering to ensure solutions are delivered on time and are cost-effective.
  • Working closely with the stakeholder team to understand the business and adapt solutions as it evolves.
  • Supporting Customer Support, Sales Enablement, and Product Marketing in the development of feature descriptions and new release content
  • Performing validation testing of production releases, bug fixes, and feature requests.

It is worthy of note that though product managers are difficult to recruit due to high demands and wages, it is a good idea to employ a very good associate product manager who can then be scaled up or replaced as at when due.

Product Manager

It is very similar to associate product manager; however, experience is needed for this role; not necessarily product management experience but the one that shows skills such as collaboration, communication, and prioritization.

A product manager is a go-to person for resources by his/her teammates as well as other colleagues in another team related to what is being produced.

Duties and Responsibilities

  • Advice on the process, relationships, tactical moves, etc., and will need to be confident and well-informed by data
  • Develop innovative, industry-leading features and products that uniquely differentiate your products.
  • Identify opportunities and research them to build a perspective on what the company should be building.
  • Create and implement strategies, tactics, and delivery timelines for products.
  • Inspire your cross-functional peers to build strong partnerships in delivering excellent products and services

When to Move to the Next Career Path?

  • If you had a demonstrable understanding of the customer benefit your product provides. To articulate the specific customer problems, it’s solving and tying product metrics to business goals in a compelling way. In other words, everything should be running and running smoothly. Internal and external customers should feel informed. Engineering, UX, and marketing should trust and respect you.

If you can put the above in place, you are ready to move to the senior product manager level.

Senior Product Manager 

A successful senior product manager has a professional experience that shows the ability to think on their feet that they can be accountable for decisions and make data-driven decisions based on many complexes, interdependent factors. That they can lead by example.

  • A senior PM should also demonstrate mastery of the three product manager communication streams. This role is often responsible for communicating product strategy with dependent teams. Involving executives and other key stakeholders when necessary.
  • This role also requires deep product and market knowledge because of increased authority and responsibility.

What are the Duties and Responsibilities of a Senior Product Manager?

  • They can lead other, more junior product managers. Senior PMs also work with product leaders to contribute to and execute product strategy.
  • Other product managers might be heads down in the data or more involved with customer interviews and feedback. But senior product managers begin to look more at the broader product process. They start to become more of a voice for the product team to lead.

Senior Product Manager Job Description

  • Highlight products and services to improve grocery delivery quality to retain customers.
  • Create a long-term strategy for your area of ownership and execute go-to-market plans for new features and offerings. Identify and mitigate enterprise risk.
  • work with other product owners, design, and engineering to bring your ideas to market through rapid iteration.
  • Build business cases, articulate strategy, sell your vision to lead, understand the market, analyze consumer engagement, lead your team, etc.
  • Make hard, high-judgment trade-offs between features and speed-to-market

When to Move on from the Senior Product Manager Role?

  • When they become a critical source of advice for other product managers. Secondly, become an advocate for the product team to senior leadership.

Director of Product

This role in Product requires leadership experience. Other skills include excellent written and verbal communication, experience presenting to the executive leadership, and the ability to build and trust a team to do the work you previously did as a sole contributor.

He/she will focus on building better processes, perfecting existing ones, improving overall team performance, and building consensus across the organization.

Many Directors of Product roles require 10+ years of product management experience. But some smaller organizations hire directors with just 5+ years of product management experience.

What are the Duties and Responsibilities of a Director of Products?

  • Research the market landscape their product lives in.
  •  Competition research.
  • product best practices
  • Improve our product development process

Director of Product Job Description

  • Develop and drive the Identity product roadmap, driving critical capabilities from concept to customer.
  • Innovate by applying your Identity experience and best practice to deliver robust services in Public Cloud.
  • Translate product strategy into detailed requirements, user stories, and prototypes
  • Work with all stakeholders appropriate to our area to understand problems, desired outcomes and craft a solution.
  • Engage with customers and partners to deliver roadmap updates, get product feedback, and identify additional challenges and opportunities.
  • Product directors are also a resource and mentor for the rest of the product management team.

VP of Product 

At this stage of the product manager career path, you are less involved with the product development process’s hands-on activities.

There might be more than one VP of Product in a large organization, depending on the number of product lines. Whether there’s one VP or several, this role is a high-level support resource for the product organization.

It is responsible for the entire product set and how it fits into the organization’s rest. VP of Product roles requires 10+ years of work experience in product management.

Working with engineering teams and 5+ years managing and leading product managers, designers, and developers.

Educational background requirements include a Bachelor’s in mathematics, statistics, or computer science. A Master’s/MBA is a strong plus.

Duties and Responsibilities of VP product

  • Budgeting for the product organization,
  • Ensure that strategic product decisions align with business objectives,
  • Protecting the product team from infighting and internal politics.
  • Hire and develop the best.
  • Build a cohesive team and develop strong product leaders.
  • Set a vision.
  • Collaborate closely with CPO & cross-functional leaders obsess over customers.
  • Drive market research, user research, data analysis, and user testing that informs product requirements to build products.
  • Drive execution. Partner with Engineering to drive execution of the product roadmap. Advocate for small iterative release cycles to deploy quickly, test, and learn.
  • Drive adoption/engagement. Partner cross-functionally to develop the most compelling solution to drive product adoption. Then develop strategies to drive increased customer usage.

Chief Product Officer

Professional experience requirements range for this role from 10+ to 15+, to even 20+ years, depending on the organization’s industry and size.

Similar to other mid to senior-level product management roles., educational requirements also range. Typical listings mention Bachelor’s in computer science, business, finance, with an MBA being a plus.

Duties and Responsibilities of Chief Product Officer

  • Ensuring staffing resources, budget, and research are being invested in the areas that will provide the combined best benefit.
  • Making and executing short- and long-term goals together

Chief Product Officer Job Description

  • Managing existing products and/or creating new product lines.
  • Create products strategy and own product roadmap; communicate these to all stakeholders, monitor development, and evaluate results.
  • Spearhead high-level product developments and enhancement and manage product lifecycle from conception to launch.
  • Formulate pricing and competitive positioning for each product.
  • Product advocator, participate in press activities, conferences, and discussion sessions with thought leaders and a market analyst.
  • Lead, manage, and mentor a team of Product Managers.
  • Work closely with a team of Engineers, Marketing, Finance, Operations.

Frequently Asked Questions about Product Management

How does product management contribute to the success of a business?

Product Management can cover practically everything to do with your product or products. … From that vision, they create a strategy for product success and work closely with Marketing, Sales, Design, and Engineering teams to help make that vision a reality.

What is the most important part of product management?

A product manager has to make sure that all members of teamwork harmoniously achieve the primary goal. One of the most important functions of this person is to communicate the requirements to the development team and organize the development process in the most efficient way.

What skills are required for product management?

These include:

  • Business intelligence
  • Research skills
  • Management skills
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Communication skills
  • Technical expertise
  • Analytical skills
  • Marketing ski
  • Do product managers need to code?

    As a Product Manager, you won’t be required to code. However, a basic understanding of the programming languages used to build the product is a big advantage in the tech industry. … A Product Manager’s time should not be spent coding because there are developers that are paid to do 99% of that work.

    What is the goal of product management?

    The 3 fundamental aims of product management are: Build once, sell many times – this gets the economies of scale that result in higher profitability. Being an expert on the market as well as the product – makes sure you build products that customers will buy.

    What do product managers study?

    The education level required to apply for any product manager position is a bachelor’s degree in business or a related field. Product manager degrees should include coursework in communications, marketing, economics, public relations, statistics, advertising, and management.

    Conclusion

    Product management is a career with lots of be benefited explicit career paths. Having simplified what the career path looks like, it is easier to make decide to pursue a career in product management.

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