Most people associate a tech career with coding or software engineering, while others may add data science or data analytics to the mix. These are arguably the most prominent positions in tech, but did you know that these are not the only roles available in the job market?
One area that is steadily growing in popularity among tech companies is product management. For people who may not possess a computer science degree or a high level of technical knowledge, product management is an accessible path towards a fulfilling tech career.
But what exactly is product management?
Product School likens product managers to “conductors of the orchestra, giving direction and clarity to the engineers, marketers, analysts, and designers that make up the band,” a comparison that speaks to the crucial role that product managers play in the industry.
Read on to learn about product management in detail and see becoming a product manager fits your career goals.
Product School offers programs designed to equip you with the skills you’ll need to enter the emerging field of product management.Earn an industry-recognized certificate at Product School today.
How Important Is Product Management?
Product management can mean many things and can look different in various organizations. Even product managers working in one organization may have different perspectives, approaches, and methodologies when executing their roles.
However, there is one similarity across all organizations. The primary function of a product manager is to decide what to build to solve their customers’ problems while keeping their company’s values and bottom line in mind.
Manolo Hernandez Kuri, Vice President of Product and Strategy at Habi Mexico, graduated from Product School and is now applying the skills he learned at his company.
“If you look at a Venn diagram and that famous image [where] a product manager is the intersection between business, the user experience, and the tech part, it’s absolutely true,” he said.
In the past, product management was related solely to physical products. Today, it also pertains to digital products, like apps and websites. Product management is where software engineering, design, and business work together to create a solution that will bring value to customers.
This makes stepping into a product management role a tricky journey. Enter, Product School.
Learn Product Management at Product School
Product School offers live online classes on product management that come with industry-recognized certificates and credentials for your career. Instructors are real-world product leaders working in top companies such as Google, Netflix, and Amazon.
Product School offers three types of certificates to help get a student’s product management career started. These programs reflect real-world product management careers and can be taken on their own or consecutively.
Product Management Certificate
Product School’s Product Management Certificate program is for aspiring managers or those who have just recently started their careers. This course is open to people from any industry, including those who come from a non-technology background.
Product Leader Certificate
The Product Leader Certificate program is for those who have obtained the school’s Product Manager Certificate or have three or more years of experience as a product manager. In the program, students learn about the role of a senior-level product manager, including the product development cycle and product strategy design.
Product Executive Certificate
The Product Executive Certificate program is for those with a Product Leader Certificate or five or more years of experience in product management. This course is for proven part product leaders who want to work their way to the C-suite.
Essentials Skills of a Product Manager
There are many definitions of product management, but specific skills are always present in an effective product professional. These skills are crucial for anyone who has the desire to start a career in product management.
Carlos González de Villaumbrosia, Founder and CEO of Product School broke it down to three primary skills.
“One is technical acumen. You don’t have to be a software engineer. If you come from a technical background, that’s a bonus point,” Carlos said. “But it’s more about feeling comfortable around, understanding, and interacting with engineers.”
“You’re going to spend a lot of time with them, and you need to understand some of the trade-offs to better collaborate with them,” he said.
“Second is business acumen. At the end of the day, I see product managers as translators, as diplomats in between different worlds. Usually, technology, business, and design. It’s important to understand all of those worlds. Not to be an expert, but you need to be curious enough to ask the right questions, to help people, and give people guidance on what we are doing and why,” continued Carlos.
“The third component is communication skills. Communication is something we all use. This is especially relevant when we are growing in our careers because becoming a product manager at the very beginning requires some hard skills. You need to know certain things. You need to know how to build a roadmap, how to analyze data, how to collaborate with engineers, and how to collaborate with designers. All of that you can learn.”
“At the same time, the soft skills are the piece of the puzzle that is going to help you earn respect from your people, and also be a good asset for them. This is something you’re going to need to acquire, and you can only acquire this with experience. As you move up your career ladder, you’ll realize that it’s less about the hard skills that will make you successful as a product manager, but more about the soft skills that make you successful as a leader.”
A Day in the Life of a Product Manager
Although product management is becoming more popular, many people are still unfamiliar with the role and what daily work life entails. The truth is that there is no typical day for a product manager or product team. Because of the nature of the role, it can change depending on what the day needs.
Manolo Hernandez Kuri moved from startup life to product management. He founded several companies in Mexico before deciding to look for employment similar to entrepreneurship. His first step was taking a course at Product School, where he found product management.
“I made my way to product management through my start-ups. I used to know how to code, but I was more attracted to business and user experience design. I started reading a lot of articles online. I started listening to interviews, and I heard the founder of Product School give a class or a lecture.
“I saw that he was from Spain, so he could obviously speak Spanish,” Manolo said. “I wrote him an email and said, ‘I’m Mexican. I know you speak Spanish. Can you explain to me what Product Management is about and what is your school about?’”
“He was very nice to me, and he said, ‘Yes, of course, let’s talk.’ He scheduled a half an hour call with me, and he explained everything to me in detail. The approach they had with me made me feel confident with them. I really liked that,” Manolo continued.
Manolo’s experience at Product School paved the way for his current role as VP of Product and Strategy at Habi Mexico.
“The Product School teachers are professionals in the industry. My teacher was a senior product manager at Upwork. That was amazing. I said, ‘He must know the best practices and the right way to build products.’ Those are the different things that made me choose Product School. When I came back to Mexico, it took me three months to get a job as a senior product manager.”
He also shared his thoughts on how the day of a product manager looks like.
“It all depends if you’re creating a new product, improving a product, or maintaining a product. If you’re creating a new product, you need to create a vision for it. You need to stay close to your company’s leadership to understand the business objectives and the challenges they want to tackle. You need to go to market and perform really strong discovery sessions and understand how the customer is actually solving the problem you are trying to tackle,” he said.
Being a product manager revolves around validating problems and finding solutions. It involves building product roadmaps and working with engineers to develop products and ensure development is on the right track. Product management also involves looking at market strategies and customer insights monitoring data and managing company stakeholders.
“You’re trying to understand what product to build while the company is still running. Everybody is throwing new ideas, requirements, and new business goals at you. You really need to have the nerve to stay focused and keep on the right track. [You have to] learn to say no to so many different things so you can go to product-market fit as soon as possible.”
“You have to be a good communicator. Time management is basic, and you need to understand how to prioritize your different tasks. It’s complicated to say what the day-to-day is because it always changes,” Manolo shared.
Is Product Management Right for You?
Product Management is an exciting role for people from all kinds of backgrounds as no coding or engineering background is needed. The most critical thing in product management is to be curious and be interested in products and people.
“Come to the office knowing something new and try to apply it, and teach it to people. If you keep it to yourself, they’ll be behind you and that doesn’t work. If you know something new and can apply those learnings into your practice, that will set you apart. Look at your data and be data-driven,” said Manolo.
If this sounds like the right fit for you, Product School offers certificate courses to start your product management career. Apply to Product School today and take that first step into a new career.
About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.