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Becoming a Product Manager

by Xcede

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Navigating the path to this sought-after job title.

Product Managers play an integral role within fast-paced tech organisations. They wear multiple hats as they guide the success of a product through its delivery journey. They are strategic leaders, responsible for leading cross-functional teams throughout the product life cycle. The Product Manager is the person responsible for defining the ‘why, when, and what’ of a product and outlining what the design and engineering teams will build.

Product Managers lead cross-functional teams throughout the process of conception to product launch. Their remit includes understanding customer needs, creating a product vision, and understanding the competitive landscape. In more senior roles, they can oversee finances and plan release dates before marketing a product to customers. It’s a role that demands a diverse skillset and an effective Product Manager requires a deep sense of responsibility, knowledge of product principles, a clear strategic vision, and excellent communication skills. This complex but highly rewarding role is one that is highly sought after within the technology sector.

We explore the road to becoming a successful product manager, below.

Why is this a great role for me?

Are you a natural problem solver, searching for a role that sees you involved in every aspect of the product journey? If you have the desire to solve complex challenges and enjoy communicating with a variety of business stakeholders, Product Manager could be the right role for you. This is a demanding role with a high level of responsibility but one that is incredibly rewarding – providing the opportunity to see the creation and realisation of a product at every stage.

What skills do I need to be a product manager?

In order to become a Product Manager, you will require adaptability and the ability to move fluidly between a huge range of tasks. You will also need to demonstrate solid commercial acumen, excellent prioritisation skills, proficiency in research and analysis, and a strong capacity for storytelling.

You need to be a talented listener, observer, and strategist, able to identify customer needs and pain points. You must be able to break down these needs to create a clear vision for what the product will be and then sell this vision to key stakeholders. You should be the person who drives change, pushes the team and is prepared to dig for the truth. Although not always necessary, a strong understanding of UX and Software Development principles can be hugely beneficial.

How do I become a product manager?

A key difficulty in moving into product management is securing your first role. Almost every organisation looks for a Product Manager with previous product experience, so that first step can be difficult to achieve. Product Managers often come from a background in marketing, business analysis, design or development. However, candidates without this experience may consider building their own product or partnering with a mentor in the field. This may mean taking on smaller side projects to demonstrate your end-to-end management ability and desire to work in the space.

In the UK, especially in London, there are numerous events that focus solely on product management and multiple free and paid courses that can help you to increase your skill set.

Many Product Managers begin in junior roles within the tech industry, gathering experience and skills as they go, but a degree in business management or in a similar area is useful. You should also try to gain exposure to as many business areas that touch the product lifecycle as possible, wide knowledge and experience is a strength for sought-after product managers.

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