Lately I’ve been pinged by roughly 3 people a week on how to transition into PM. Usually there are two main questions:
- What does a typical day look like for a Product Manager?
- What do interviewers look for when they hire?
Here’s what I usually say:
- There is no typical day for a Product Manager, and that’s why most PMs like their jobs. Your product is your baby and it’s up to you to lead your team to take care of all aspects. You are the catch-all for any problems that arise. On a most basic level, you are talking to customers around 20% of the time, roadmapping and delivering features with your development and design team 50% of the time and doing catch-all work 30% of the time. The catch-all can be anything from marketing and strategy discussions, handling contract issues, changing pricing, handling sales and billing issues, handling product quality issues, launching new programs, or figuring out what to do after your product factory burned down last night. Your problem solving skills, adaptability and resourcefulness are very important in this job.
- Different PMs roles and teams will value a different combination of skills. I suggest choosing a few job descriptions that you are interested in, and chatting with PMs in those companies to get a sense of that they’re hiring for. Typically, roles in established products will have e a higher project management and delivery aspect. Roles in brand new products will have a higher market analysis aspect. In addition to skills, there are 5 qualities that I look for which are uniquely necessary for Product Management success.
If you are new to Product Management, get an understanding of the role by taking some classes or reading articles online. Here are some classes that are worth checking out:
- Pragmatic Marketing - take the Day 1 summary class and walk away with a diagram defining all aspects of the PM role
- UC Berkeley HAAS Product Management Program - a great review and networking opportunity for practicing Product Managers
Many new PM classes have popped up of late. I have not attended any personally but here are some I’ve heard about: