Firstly, welcome to our blog on how to become a product manager.
Becoming a Product Manager
What is a product manager
Product management is not easily defined and the scope of a product manager can be very varied depending on the industry. It can, however, be seen as a lifecycle function that includes various functions like forecasting, planning, production and/or marketing of a product in all the product lifecycle stages.
A product manager is a professional who is at the helm of guiding the success of a product. They are also responsible for leading the team in charge of improving the product.
The product manager can perform functions of various similar roles like:
- Product owner
- Program manager
- Product designer
- Project manager
- Product marketing manager
- Technical product manager (TPM)
It is therefore clear that product manager function within an overlap of
- Business. Above all, it is seen as a business function. The product manager has to prioritise business value from the product.
- Technology. Although the product manager doesn’t need to code necessarily, they do need a good working understanding of what the process entails. They spend a lot of time with developers and need to know this function to make the best decisions.
- User experience (UX Design). The product manager should be the voice of the user within the business. It is very important that they test the user experience and get first-hand feedback.
The role is very broad and needs you to use a variety of skills.
So what does a day in the life of a Product Manager look like?
The scope of this role is very broad and therefore you will need to be an expert in many fields to pull this off. However, the role is often described as a dream job as it is so versatile and filled with possibilities.
Working hours are usually 9 – 5, based in the head office.
A quick summary of what needs to be done:
- Create a vision of the product – research is vital to this. You will have to research your market, your client and subsequently where you want to place your product within this. You will, therefore, have to collate huge amounts of information from client feedback, web analytics, research reports and statistics.
- Spread the word in your business – ignite a passion for your product within the business. The success of your vision for your product lies with every team member along the way.
- Build an actionable plan. This is where your hard work in the first 2 steps will pay off. With passionate team members, better designs will be a natural next step.
- When your product is out there, you need to go back to your users and see if they are happy with it and what would they pay for this product in order to keep it in line with your business objectives.
Now, this quick summary is also only a small overview of the basic process. This happens simultaneously for many products at the same time switching your own focus from strategic to tactical constantly.
It is clear that the average day for a product manager is not set in stone and may vary day to day. Combining various activities and challenges.
Skills and responsibilities
Firstly, as a product manager, you will have to make use of a wide and varied list of skills. These would include the following:
- Interpersonal skills
- Leadership skills
- Attention to detail
- Communication skills
- Negotiation skills
- Strategic thinking
- Analytical thinking
- Organizational skills
- Critical thinking
- Motivational skills
- Time management
- Presentation skills
- Design skills
- Marketing skills
This list goes on and on. Udemy for business writes about the 7 skills every product manager needs to build a winning product. These include the following:
- Be a future visionary and product evangelist. Be able to create a vision and passion within the team.
- A jack-of-all-trades. With knowledge of engineering, design, sales, and marketing.
- Master technical know-how. Be tech savvy. Although you won’t necessarily have to design or code, having a good knowledge of it will be helpful.
- Master the art and science of syncing across multiple platforms. In our modern technological environment, you need to host on different platforms.
- Stay on top of new tech like React Native to optimize product development. They should constantly keep abreast of new technology.
- A knack for communication. Product managers should be an excellent communicator on all levels within the business. They also need to present and be able to listen to their team members.
- Know their way around metrics. They should be knowledgeable on analytics and methods of extracting the proper data.
Unfortunately, the career path is not as clear as studying project management at University and then going into the field.
As project management is such a wide area and often consist of people that are experts in various areas within the lifecycle of a product, the qualifications are varied.
Although no specific education or certification criteria are set out, an aspiring product manager usually at least hold a bachelors degree in business. Education in this field is usually associated with a bachelors degree in business or a related field. Areas of study can be varied, but often include marketing, public relations, advertising, communications, economics, statistics and management. Some companies may require advanced degrees.
According to Glassdoor, the average base salary expectations for a London senior product manager is around £70 672 per year as of 23 November 2018. Payscale’s salary expectations of an average salary for a senior product manager are at £59 636. With bonuses and other benefits, product managers at Amazon earn about $127 839 per annum. These will, however, vary greatly according to location, company, experience, seniority and of course the industry.
The majority of roles in product management in the UK in the tech industry where apps and services are online.
To look for employment in product management, you can also try these websites.
Also, keep an eye on our STEM career guides page for a more detailed look at different top jobs in the UK.
Sunday Times Parent Power league table 2019 / Top Girls schools in London / Independent school parent guide / University application tips / My GCSE choices / How to become a Data Scientist / Most popular grammar schools / Cyber-security threats / 11 plus exam differences / How to become a software engineer / What is the best education for my children?