What is a Product Manager?
A Product Manager is someone who builds products at a company and manages the process of taking an idea for a product feature to an in-market, sellable product, or a new feature. While a Product Manager may not need to know how to write code, have a quantitative background, or know a lot about data, they understand how to initially build and scale products.
Product Management refers to the entire field of building products and encompasses the Product Manager role, among others.
What is a typical background of a Product Manager?
Many Product Managers start out in technical engineering roles and move into Product Management after several years of experience. Others may begin working in the field immediately after receiving their education. While a degree in Engineering or Computer Science can be helpful, it may not be required for all Product Management roles.
What are some of the skills a successful Product Manager should have?
- The ability to map and plan product development: A product manager should be experienced in building product roadmaps and strategies that move products forward - whether that’s creating an MVP, scaling certain features, or entering new markets.
- Excellent project management skills: After developing a product roadmap, Product Managers will need to provide reasonable timelines, and set expectations of when milestones will be achieved. Understanding any potential roadblocks or delays that may occur - and being able to come up with solutions around them - is critical for Product Management organizations.
- Excellent cross-functional skills: In order to build a product, a Product Manager cannot act alone - and will need to work with cross-functional teams, such as engineering, sales, marketing and customer success (among others) to bring their product to life.
- A robust understanding of their customer: A Product Manager should have in-depth knowledge of their customer (or product’s end user), and should be constantly looking for ways to make their product solve their customer’s problems. You may hear Product Managers refer to a new product or feature they’re building as “sticky” - this means that they want users to enjoy using it, and “stick” to using the product.
What are some of the typical responsibilities of a Product Manager?
- To analyze data and information: Product Managers must be adept at pulling together different information from different data sources, and making decisions based on that information. And if they’re missing critical data, or aren’t sure how to measure their product’s effectiveness - a Product Manager may need to partner with engineering or data teams in order to find it.
- To provide technical know-how: Product Managers may already come from a technical background, but at a minimum, they need to be able to understand and communicate effectively with people who have a technical background.
- To translate user feedback and research: In addition to soliciting constant feedback from customers, a Product Manager will also need to know what to do with that information.
- To present to leadership and/or investors: From a Product Manager at a startup, to a Head of Product or Chief Product Officer, Product Management roles often need to present their work. These presentations can be for CEOs, boards or investors, or internal leadership teams - it depends on the role. As a result, Product Managers need to have an excellent grasp of the technology at hand - and be able to explain their work or findings in the simplest terms possible.
What are some of the typical job titles of a Product Manager?
We recruit for a number of product management, product design, product marketing, and marketing positions, ranging from a startup’s first product hire to building talent at a seasoned organization; including roles like:
- Product Manager
- Associate Product Manager
- Product Lead
- Principal Product Manager
- Director of Product Management
- Product owners
- Product leaders
- Chief product officers
- Product engineers
- Growth managers