Advice For Getting Into Product Management

Product management is an exciting role. It can drive product direction and ensure your team builds the right product for the market. It can also be frustrating because other departments have expectations of product management that rarely align with yours.


BUILD YOUR EXPERTISE

There are three types of desired skills for product management jobs: technology, market, and business.


Technology expertise

Technology expertise is about how the product works. From their daily interactions, technology experts pick up a deep understanding of product and technical capabilities; they achieve this by playing with the product, by discussing it with customers and developers, by reading and reading and reading. For a technology expert, the product almost becomes their personal hobby. They think of themselves as product experts.


Typical titles: product manager, product owner, technical product manager, business analyst


Market expertise

Market expertise is a focus on geographic or vertical markets, either by country or by industry. They know how business is done in that market. They know the major players, and the jargon or colloquialisms of the market. Market experts define themselves by the market they serve: “I’m a banker” or “I support BRIC.”


Typical titles: industry manager, product marketing manager, field marketing manager


Business expertise

Business expertise is where your traditional business leader or MBA graduate brings strength. These experts know the mechanics of business and can apply that knowledge to your product. A business-oriented expert knows how to use research to determine product feasibility, can determine how the product generates profit with lots of financial analysis to back it up. Ideally these business skills need to be combined with one of the other skills or provided as a support role for the other areas of expertise.


Typical titles: product strategist, product leader, portfolio manager


BUILD YOUR DOMAIN SKILLS

The thing that makes the real difference between good and great is domain expertise. Domain knowledge comes from years of experience in one particular field. For example, you can learn a lot about healthcare by reading published materials but they won’t give you the deep insights that come from working in a hospital. In teaching, it’s understanding how passion for children’s growth is quickly eradicated by the reality of too many kids in a class, too many disruptive kids in