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Product Management

How To Become A Product Manager: Key Steps That Lead To Success

September 27, 2021

How To Become A Product Manager: Key Steps That Lead To Success

 

Who is a Product Manager?

Product managers are responsible for the planning and execution of a product’s features. They have a lot of input in the design process, quality assurance, and development. In large organizations, they oversee user research as well as launch new products to market. In general, it takes about 4-8 years to become a Product Manager depending on your background.

In the first place, a product manager is a person who manages projects and has to make sure that they are profitable. They also have to look at the future of what can be done with their products as well as taking into consideration any limitations or possibilities that may arise from new technology.

Job roles of Product Managers

Product managers are the individuals who gather, prioritize, and define product needs for a client. They work with engineering, marketing team, sales team, and support to make sure the product meets customer needs.

Product managers in different industries

A product manager is a person who works in the field of developing and marketing products. They are responsible for discovery and definition issues, which means they should be good at brainstorming new ideas and creating working prototypes. Product managers in big companies may also be part of other teams or departments, such as sales or design. Big tech companies will probably provide mentoring and practices to help them succeed.

Product managers in different industries have a lot of differences. In startups and early-stage companies, product Fmanagers must be ready for frequent changes in direction and able to operate at scale as well as take more risks. Product Managers in small companies with limited resources still have enough influence and authority over the company’s decisions within their scope.

Product Management Basics

Product managers are one of the most lucrative jobs in tech. It’s difficult to find candidates who are both seasoned and up-to-date on the latest developments in tech, so it takes a lot for this job to become successful.

A product manager is a person who manages the development of a product from idea to completion. They must understand technology, business, and user experience in order to succeed at their job. People management is a key aspect of the job.

Product Managers are the people who work with designers and developers to create tech products. Some of their responsibilities include developing a go-to-market strategy, market research, defining your minimum viable product, and conducting A/B testing. Product managers also need skills like understanding positioning and pricing as well as familiarity with wireframing and UX design.

How to become a product manager/a product development manager?

Product managers come from diverse backgrounds and jobs, but it is important to note that you can learn hard skills or technical knowledge relatively quickly. Technical proficiency includes knowing how the product functions.

The product manager’s primary job is to create products that satisfy customers. When they are successful, their company will be too. A common misconception about the role of a product manager is that it requires technical skills or experience in engineering or design; this isn’t true at all! Instead, many companies value people who have strong soft-skills sets and creative thinking abilities for this position.

Research the role and talk to current product managers

Before you start taking courses to become a product manager, research the role. YouTube videos from current PMs can help you get a better idea of what the role entails and companies that hire product managers.

If you are interested in becoming a product manager, start by researching the role and then talk to current product managers. You can also research firms that may potentially hire you for this position.

Take a PM course

Product management is a complex, specialized field that requires specialized skills and knowledge. To be effective in product management, one must learn the process of planning and managing products from inception to execution. Certifications can help build resumes for PMs who want to enter the field.

Start a side project

There are various ways to become a Product Manager. To get started, start a side project that has steps similar to what it will be like in the future when you manage product lifecycles and work with teams. Documenting your process and how it worked with others is also key to success!

Build a technical background

The path to becoming a product manager is not easy, but it definitely starts with building a technical background. PMs must be able to learn and adapt quickly in order to prove their worth.

If applicable, apply for an Associate Product Management program

If you are looking to become a product manager, it is important that you know the basics of what the role entails. Associate Product Management programs allow new grads and early-career professionals to start their careers in product management without paying for an MBA or going back to school. There are many companies that offer these types of programs like Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, and many other startups.

Apply for a PM role

Product management is a highly competitive field. If you are advanced in your career, you can apply for product manager roles at any company (even companies outside of technology).

What does it take to become a great product manager?

The role of a product manager is to create products that customers love. Beyond shipping new features on a regular cadence and keeping the peace between the engineering and design team, the best PMs create products with strong user adoption that have exponential revenue growth and disrupt an industry.

Product managers are typically expected to master several skills including customer interviews, user testing, creating demand for the product, defining metrics for success, leading innovation initiatives across their teams in order to achieve these goals. In addition, they need high EQ and work for the right company.

Here is a list of the key skills required to become a great product manager:

Empathy

Becoming a great product manager is not easy, but with the right steps, it can be achieved. It takes empathy and understanding to know what the user wants and how the user thinks. These are important to succeed in this role. Putting yourself in the customer’s shoes is critical for problem-solving. Empathy also helps you understand other teams and better collaborate with them, which leads to creative approaches to connecting customer feedback to product development.

Leadership

To become a product manager, you should have the following skills: leadership, influence, persuasion, and charisma. Your job is to inspire your team by leading by example and motivating them with these tools. And remember true leadership is when you are able to influence people who don’t report to you.

Curiosity

Product Managers need to have a deep understanding of the technical aspects of their field and be able to adapt quickly. They also must be motivated by curiosity, which is what drives Product Managers. The first step in becoming a great PM is asking open-ended questions early on in development for better ideas. But remember, don’t overdo it – sometimes the questions have to be to the users and several other times to your own self.

Collaboration

Collaboration is important in creating great products. Managers should be able to work together with team members, stakeholders, and users to make sure that their product meets the needs of all involved parties. The best way for managers to succeed is by having technical skills, but also establishing strong relationships with stakeholders.

Communication

Product managers must be able to speak with customers, use diplomacy, interpersonal skills, and communication in order to become successful. As you advance through your career, you will also be expected to deliver high-impact presentations.

Self-management

Becoming a product manager requires self-management, clear priorities, and self-starter skills. It is important to have a good sense of both your own priorities and the companies.

Technical proficiency

To become a product manager, you need to be proficient with all aspects of the software. The technical expertise is knowing the functionality at the level of code and conducting A/B tests and working on product analytics. While you don’t need to be an expert in the area – having technical proficiency will help you to gain credibility with the engineering and development teams and make life easier.

Creative and strategic thinking

Product managers need to be creative and strategic thinkers who can solve problems creatively. They also need experience in problem-solving through critical thinking and experience. The important role of a product manager is not just how to do it but what to do is equally or more important.

Creative Problem-Solving Skills

Product management is the act of improving existing products or creating new ones. Product managers have a track record of solving problems for customers and for the business. They are creative in finding solutions to bugs that may not occur to engineering team members.

Typical Paths to becoming a product manager

Each organization has a different way of hiring product managers. We have studies the typical paths and list them here.

Path 1: How to Become a Product Manager with Specialized Training

Product managers are in high demand and it can be difficult to break into this career path. The best way to become a product manager is through specialized training or going back to school for a degree program that focuses on product management.

Online courses and trade schools provide the opportunity to learn the skills needed for a successful product management career at a fraction of what an MBA program would cost, leaving you with a portfolio of work that will help you stand out among other applicants.

Path 2: How to Become a Product Manager through an MBA Program

There are two paths that a person can take in order to become a product manager. The first path is to start out as an entry-level PM and work your way up; this will require years of experience and perseverance. The 2nd path is to go through an MBA program and land a junior product management role.

People typically go through an MBA program after three to five years of professional experience. You don’t learn the tools nor processes during the MBA program (Agile and Scrum). Business schools can be expensive, so you should consider other options like workshops or online courses.

Path 3: How to Become a Product Manager by Learning on the Job

Product management is the third slowest career path out of four. People who are interested in becoming a product manager should learn on the job, start with internships and then move up to full-time positions after gaining experience. This is the slowest career path, typically.

New product managers can jump into an opportunity and gain experience before going through all of the steps needed to become a full-fledged product manager, which usually takes years.

Product Management Career Path

Project Management is a fast-growing career with a flat structure but with an opportunity to manage big responsibilities. We have mapped the typical career path for a product manager here:

Sr. Product Manager

As a Sr. product manager, you have to develop a long-term strategy for your area of ownership. You should also lead your team to execute go-to-market plans for new features and offerings while making a hard, high-judgment trade-off between features and speed-to-market. An SPM is also responsible to present findings to large groups including senior leaders.

Director of Product Management

Product managers are responsible for managing product development, communicating the future of products, and prioritizing investments. They report to the CEO in smaller organizations or VP of Product Management in larger enterprises. To be successful as a Director of product management requires an ability to collaborate with cross-functional leaders.

Vice President of Product Management

In a company with a VP of product, they are given significant influence on various departments to ensure investments reinforce business goals. Vice president of product management reports to the CEO and has a voice in strategy, mergers, and acquisition activities.

Chief Product Officer

Chief Product Officer is an expanded variation of the Vice President of Product or one that oversees many VPs of product. There are requirements for professional experience ranging from 10-20 years as a Chief Product Officer. Responsibilities include research and budgeting products to provide the best benefits in the 3-5 year time frame.

Product Management Education

Product management is an exciting field that allows you to create products that are more engaging, cost-effective, and profitable. However, getting into product management can be difficult due to the lack of resources available.

There are many resources for aspiring product managers including Julie Zhuo’s Year of the Looking Glass on Medium which talks about how it is becoming increasingly challenging for people with a technical background to enter this company-facing field. Furthermore, general-purpose books like “The Innovator’s Dilemma” by Clayton M. Christensen are recommended for product managers to read so they can apply the knowledge of these books to their own product management career as well as general management careers.

Lenny Rachisky has put up great blog posts on the topic, including this one.

Product management certification

Companies are looking for product managers with the right education and experience to help their products grow. If you want to be a successful Product Manager, it is important that you continue your education. An Online Product Management Certification Course helps increase your chances of getting an interview by providing you with marketable skills like critical thinking, leadership, resilience, and understanding of customer problems.

Although it’s not always necessary to have experience in order to be hired, having a certification will give you more credibility with the hiring manager.

FAQs

What to study if I want to be a product manager?

Product Management is a new field, so if you want to be successful in this career you need to have some flexibility. Many people come from various backgrounds, but they all share the same goal of becoming successful product managers.

Is becoming a product manager hard?

If you are wondering whether becoming a product manager is hard – it’s not but the fact of the matter is that relatively there are a few positions for product management in each company. So you need to prepare well. There are three areas that anyone can learn about in order to be successful as a product manager: identify needs, propose solutions and demonstrate experience. It doesn’t matter which area you choose not to cover if you want to be a PM – just focus on those three key areas!

Do you need coding experience to be a product manager?

Product Managers are not required to know how to code, but the ability to communicate with developers is key. HTML, CSS, C#, Python, and SQL are the programming languages Product Managers use in their work. A basic understanding of at least one of these programming languages will help when entering into a new industry.

How do I become a product manager after 12th grade? What are the requirements to be a product manager?

Product managers are responsible for coordinating different engineering teams, prioritizing product development and validating customer challenges as problems worth solving now or in future. To become a successful product manager, you need to have experience in the industry and problem-solving skills.

What do you need to study to become a product manager?

Product managers oversee an array of responsibilities during development and production. They work with design and development teams to validate and implement a solution, and ultimately launch a product to the market.

1) Get a degree in engineering or something related that teaches you how to take on technical challenges.

2) If you’re not interested in going into engineering, get experience as a project manager or business analyst. This will help prepare you for what it’s like being responsible for overseeing all aspects of developing products from start to finish.

3) Learn about various software tools such as JIRA, Asana, Trello, etc., which can be helpful when working with team members who might not have any idea what they’re doing (and trust me, there are plenty of those!).

4) Practice your skills by working on side projects related to the industry you want to work in.

5) Take any training courses or workshops that can help you learn more about software development, project management, etc.

How do you become an entry level product manager?

Different types of companies have different roles for Product Managers. Each company’s product lifecycle is different, which means that the process to become a Product Manager differs depending on what type of company you want to be in. Understand how to get at the root of customer pain points and keep your focus on solving them while understanding the process of Customer Development and how it relates to being a Product Manager.

Entry level product managers start by understanding the difference between wireframes, mockups and prototypes. They use Balsamiq to create wireframes at an intermediate or beginner level. Product managers should learn how to create specs for epics and user stories using POP design system so they have a better idea of what needs improvement in their next iteration of their product.

This is a question that many personal product managers come across. This process typically starts with pitching and then following up on any feedback you receive from the company about your idea to ensure it’s worth pursuing further. As an entry level Product Manager, you should focus on branding yourself online so potential employers can see what type of person they will be working with as well as crafting a resume that appeals to employers for placement positions.

How to become a product manager after 12th?

Product managers typically have at least one degree from a four-year college or university. You can find product management courses in many colleges and universities. Product managers have many skills, but they typically have an analytical mindset and a creative one. They also need excellent communication. You can always consider picking up internships in the area of product management while you are in college.

How to become a product manager without experience?

A product manager is a person who manages all aspects of the development, launch and marketing of a new or existing product. If you have no experience in this field, it can be difficult to break into the industry. Prove that you are resourceful and can get things moving. A product manager is someone who bring value to the process – see how that can be you. Learn about researching the market, talking with customers, build your own side project and display what you learnt from an all-round experience. Additionally, you can think of professional conferences or events to attend, read useful books for product managers.

How to become a digital product manager?

To become a digital product manager you need to have knowledge of design principles and user experience research methods. You should also be aware of coding languages such as HTML.

How to become a product manager from a software engineer?

“The process to become a product manager from an engineer is similar for both technical and non-technical backgrounds. The first step, however, will vary depending on your background.” In this case, you mainly need to move from coding to that of managing, make sure that’s a choice you are comfortable with.

 

Image Credits:

  1. Leon on Unsplash
  2. Twitter
  3. Work Chronicles

 

 

Tina

Helping professionals around the world explore and navigate their careers

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