Glassdoor recently published their report on the ‘25 Best Jobs in the UK for 2020’ and I was pleased to see that number 2 on the list was one of my most in demand roles; Product Manager. Reading this got me thinking… what is being a Product Manager all about and what’s the attraction to becoming one? Well, I have a few thoughts so have written this blog to show why I think that Product Managers quite rightly have one of the best jobs in the UK!
First of all, what is a Product Manager?
As the Product and eCommerce Recruitment Lead here at Forward Role it’s no real surprise to see Product Managers ranked so highly in the Glassdoor report. However, I often get questioned, what does a Product Manager/ Product Owner actually do? For me, a Product Manager acts as the epicentre of business activity. Put simply they are the ‘go-to’ person for a various number of internal and external stakeholders. In the morning you could be talking to your senior leadership team on the commercial viability of a new product launch but in the afternoon you’re working with your development team on bug fixes for live products. It’s a varied role, that’s for sure!
What makes a good Product Manager?
Communication! Great Product Managers are inherently strong communicators. From running stand ups with a technical development team to reporting on performance to Commercial Directors and alike; the ability to adjust your style is critical in being a successful Product Manager. Also, whether you’re working in an Agile, Waterfall or even Wagile(!) environment, your time management is key. As a Product Manager you are the person behind keeping things moving along. This might mean you’re not just managing your own diary but also the 5 other people in your squad. Finally, commercial acumen is of vital importance to any Product Manager. Can you effectively assess the profitability of a product? And do you know what your customer really wants?
Why become a Product Manager?
The recent Glassdoor report based its finding on 3 key areas – salaries, job openings and job satisfaction but for me the decision to become a Product Manager can be based on much more than that. Firstly, something I alluded to earlier – variety. In the number of conversations I have with PMs and POs, the thing that always strikes me is the diverse amount of activities you take part in over the course of a day, never mind over a week/month! Another thing that I always take away from conversations with Product experts is their sense of ownership. ‘Cradle to Grave’ product management (regardless of the size of project) gives people great satisfaction in the product they are instrumental in taking to market.
Who needs Product Managers?
For many, Product Management use to be classified as a commercial off-shoot from your traditional marketing function, in organisations where a tangible product existed. However, with the rise of online-first and SaaS organisations Product professionals are now seen as part of the central pillar of day to day business operations. We at Forward Role have seen a surge in demand for Product talent in an ever-changing, technology focused market where customer needs must be reacted to as effectively and quickly as possible.
How do I become a Product Manager?
A lot of PMs and POs that we recruit often come from a more technical background e.g. Business Analyst/Test Analyst roles. Understanding the intricacies of technical Product Development often plays in their favour and allows for those people to transition into a more holistic role where they can use their technical knowledge to good effect. Exposure to methodologies/software also certainly plays a part. Ultimately this depends on the businesses way of working. Are they Agile? Which project management tool do they rely on?
Finally however, it is my belief that rather than a prescribed skillset it is often key behaviours some of which I alluded to earlier (communication, time management etc.) that make a great Product Manager/Product Owner.