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“Product organizations tend to be a small proportion of technology firm’s overall R&D teams, with ratios of up to 1 product manager to 10 engineers as common. Given this, companies tend not to focus on developing the same formalized career ladders compared to their engineering counterparts except at the largest tech firms who have achieved the scale of hundreds of product managers within their organization.” Sachin Rekhi showcased the career ladders of 8 technology firms that have all achieved this scale and have thus invested in career ladders for their respective product organizations. (via @sachinrekhi)
Vinay Melwani organized a monthly morning meetup for members of the Product Manager HQ Slack community to swap tips and learn from one another. They discussed the career paths for product managers in a round-robin fashion and reflected on each other’s responses. The different paths they explored include vice president of product, product consultant/speaker, venture capitalist, entrepreneur-in-residence, internal lateral shifts, advisory board members, serial product organization scaler, or general manager. (via @prodmanagerhq)
XO Group broke six Product Manager skill areas and Management into more granular measurable skills. They use these explicit skills to interview and hire and to help their people grow in their careers through individual development plans. Brent Tworetzky described the skills they expect to see in the different stops along the product management career path. (via @tworetzky)
To get started in product management you need to understand the nuts and bolts of creating a product, as well as how to connect to users so you can best serve their needs. That understanding often comes with experience, but how do you get that experience? The Muse sat down with five product managers to find out about their career paths. “Some started in customer-facing roles, some started as web developers, and some took different paths entirely. But they all landed in their roles for the same reason: They love pulling all of the pieces—from design to development to marketing—together to create an amazing product.” (via @TheMuse)
There is significant variation in titles, responsibilities, and hiring and promotion criteria along the product management career path. “Some product organizations have associate and senior product managers, while others have only a single role with varying levels of responsibility. Factors like company size, budget, business goals, and more, will have an impact on how the product team is structured. Despite the many different company-specific permutations, it’s helpful to establish a general product manager career path to help you plan your next move. Dana Solomon took a look at six common roles you might find yourself in throughout your product management career. (via @ProductPlan)
Marty Cagan believes that women are more likely to have traits beneficial in the field of Product Management. If he’s right or not (and he does admit he’s generalizing), there’s a lot here we can all aspire to. Having a balanced ego, humility and stamina are worthwhile goals for us all, professionally and personally.
Ben Horowitz’s “The Hard Thing about Hard Things” is an essential read for those who want to become a great Product Manager. While reading the book, Lawrence Ripsher was reminded of impressive behaviors his colleagues had demonstrated over the years. He’s listed 20 of these, each worth reading in detail.
You can be a good Product Manager. Or a great one. But what would make you one of the 1% of Product Managers that consistently excel at their jobs? Ian McAllister offers a list of abilities that this person must have. For instance, along with having a firm grasp on the big picture items such as market opportunities and positioning, this person must be a superior communicator.
Your progress depends on how good a Product Manager you are. As we know, there is a breadth of knowledge resources out there to learn from. But Max McKenzie gives a nice overview of how your skills should improve your career. You must be able to talk to people, understand data and be able to control your emotions.
You have to question whether you want to continue directly managing product, or become a manager of people doing this work. Hunter Walk, during his time at Linden Labs and YouTube, realized that progress needn’t mean the latter.