What you need to know to build a career in product management

Publication: Businessworld Education
January 20, 2021

Product management is one of the most appealing and lucrative professions for individuals who wish to have a vital role in creating new consumer products, business technology, software platforms, and everything else people use daily. Susan Wojcicki (CEO, YouTube), Stewart Butterfield (CEO, Slack), Sheila Lirio Marcelo (CEO & Founder, Care.com) and Sundar Pichai (CEO, Google and Alphabet) are a few of the many successful entrepreneurs who started their leadership journey as Product Managers. It’s the cornerstone of successful businesses in today’s digital-first world, where Product-as-a-Service dominates almost every sector.

Product managers are the links that bring together cross-functional teams by creating and delivering a strategic product cycle that streamlines the planning, manufacturing, marketing, and other attributes of product development. The demand for product managers has risen due to IR 4.0 and the introduction of Big Data and emerging technologies across industries. Product managers enable companies to steer this shift and help them transition effectively to achieve the organisation’s goals. There are reportedly 20,000 vacant product management positions in India.

If you are looking for a new career path, which is challenging but rewarding, then a career in product management is worth exploring. But before you start your journey into the product management domain, you should first know about a product manager’s responsibilities and skills.

Core responsibilities of product managers

Product experts will find ways to address these four primary responsibilities and boost their teams’ efficiency:

  • Setting a vision: A great product manager sets specific objectives for their teams and offers individual members the flexibility to follow their own path and approach to accomplish those goals.
  • Manage multiple projects: Usually, a product manager works simultaneously on several projects covering various fields such as research and development, public relations, sales, and many more. Effective product management involves handling complex projects and having multiple capabilities to address all these different requirements.
  • Get work done: To turn a theoretical idea into a real product is easier said than done. But that’s exactly what product managers need to do. The development of a strategy, the coordination of teams, the delegation of tasks, and the execution of the product fall under a product manager’s expertise.
  • Manage the product life cycle: Whether building a brand new product or incorporating a feature into an existing one, product managers supervise all stages of the product life cycle, from planning and designing to launching and evaluating performance.

Product managers need to have proficiency in their abilities to demonstrate prowess at the workplace and cater to the above-mentioned responsibilities.

Product managers’ skills refer to the capabilities required to deliver a product from the inception of the idea to the finished product. Here is a list to give you an idea of the skills you need to develop to build a career in product management.

  • User-centric approach: Product managers need to apply quantitative and qualitative analysis for research purposes. They need to administer the feedback loop to gain consumer insights. It is done via user recruitment tools and frameworks such as Hotjar, Google Forms, Lookback, and CrazyEgg to obtain details. These skills can either be learnt in a classroom or developed with experience.
  • Leadership: Product managers need to have strong leadership skills. They help teams track and organise assignments, inspire them, and identify the product roadmap. A product manager must be able to bring a team together and help them align themselves to the company’s business goals.
  • Strategic mindset: Product managers ought to have a high-level awareness of the business and its competition. They need business analytics and critical problem-solving abilities to cater the consumer needs.
  • Interpersonal skills: A successful product manager must be able to easily work together with others to allow a team to be more effective and accomplish tasks on time.

Product management appeals to a certain category of professionals who are constantly looking to challenge themselves and are keen on career growth. If that feels like you, then the best decision would be to upskill in the product management domain with an effective upskilling resource, such as IIM Indore & Jigsaw Academy’s Postgraduate Certificate Program in Product Management. This is a one of its kind program that provides learners with hands-on learning experience through its Bring Your Own Product (BYOP) feature. This six month online instructor-led program is also the only program in India that conforms to the 5i Framework of product management and is curated by the industry’s expert minds.