If you are the type of person that gets bored easily and prefer to have as much variety as possible, then a career in product management may be right up your alley. Product management is one of those roles that sit at the cross section of various departments including business, design, technology, strategy, leadership, marketing and advertising, and so much more. All these components are required to launch an amazing product.
Product managers typically don’t start their careers in product management though. Usually, it is a role that most people stumble upon or work towards throughout their careers. Candidates that have amassed years of experience in their various careers usually pursue specialized product management functions.
For instance, an individual that works in software development might opt to pursue a technical product management role or a more senior position. If you are particularly interested in product management, there are a couple of things that can help you launch your career sooner.
But first, what exactly do product managers do?
Product managers are like conductors in an orchestra. They help to keep all departments and participants on the same page, marshaling products from idea to launch and beyond. Product managers are versatile and can work anywhere from a small startup to multinational companies.
Product managers need to have a balance of both technical skills and interpersonal competencies to succeed. While product management is still relatively a new area of study, more and more individuals are choosing to pursue a career in product management.
5 things every student should know about product management
Good product managers have a vision
Product managers are sort of like a company’s quarterback. This means that they are solely responsible for guiding tech and development teams from product conception to launch using strategic roadmaps designed to uphold the business’ strategies and objectives. As a product manager, it is your responsibility to take the information supplied from customers and translate it to the production or engineering team.
A product manager will be involved throughout the process until the product that’s been requested by customers is brought to fruition. Many would refer to product management as the job of balancing the company’s vision with the customer experience.
Product managers must be willing to collaborate
As mentioned earlier, product management is a collaborative role that intersects many departments and divisions. Product managers must collaborate with various people including engineers, developers, salespeople and marketing departments, and other participants to ensure the success of a product from all angles.
As such, product management is a great job title for anyone curious about the moving parts of a business. Good product managers have their hands in different pots. The objective is always to boost the revenue and profits of the products they have been charged with creating.
Product management requires flexibility
More than anything, product managers must ensure that they are flexible. Working in product management is something that constantly requires innovation. As such, good product managers can navigate ambiguous scenarios and learn from failure to create products capable of meeting the needs of the customers.
Product managers must never be afraid to encourage experimentation. A lot of what product managers do is test and learn based on industry trends or what customers are reporting. A lot of times, a product has to go through some rough patches before it is tested and perfected and product managers must learn to be okay with this level of vagueness.
Plus, a day in the life of a product manager is never the same. Product managers often find themselves bombarded by requests from all corners. As such, in addition to being flexible, a product manager must effectively prioritize and delegate accordingly.
Technical knowledge is important
When one takes up the role of product manager, one needs to have some technical understanding of how the product or service in development works. A lot of product managers already emerge from tech-intensive roles and are thus usually familiar with programming languages. However, for those coming from non-technical fields such as marketing, it can be hard to encounter technical knowledge for the first time.
True, you don’t need to have as much knowledge as the engineers and developers. However, having some understanding of the technical languages can help a new product manager a great deal.
The best way for an inexperienced product manager to learn is to spend a lot of time with engineers and other technical departments and teams. Doing so can help to considerably bridge the tech language barrier and make one more adept.
Leadership skills are critical
It’s right there in the title- management. As such, product managers should also possess exemplary leadership skills to succeed in their positions. As mentioned earlier, there are a lot of teams and departments that are involved in the process of creating products. A good product manager, therefore, must be able to facilitate the collaboration.
A good leader must ensure that all the professionals from the various departments work as a team. The best leaders work to elevate their teams, always seeking to help professionals be more effective. Part of good leadership also involves being a good listener.
Good listening skills are needed no matter what one’s job title is. However, in this case, a product manager has to listen to not just what the customers want but also what the team needs to succeed. Listening is what truly allows product managers to connect and deeply understand the various challenges that need to be solved.
As a product manager, you will also have the satisfaction of knowing that the products you’ve helped create will impact the lives of hundreds if not thousands of individuals. That alone is reason enough to wake up every morning.
Product managers are essentially strategic thinkers. They help to define a businesses’ vision so that they can work towards realistic and attainable goals. All this needs one to be critical logical, rational as well as have both inductive and deductive reasoning skills.