Product Management

Product management in one sentence
Product management is a cross-functional role responsible for defining, delivering, and improving a product.

Who do they work with?
Product Managers works closely with Engineering, Marketing, and Sales.

Product management is a cross-functional leadership role

Product management roles are highly sought after in the tech industry, considered to be the holy grail for recent MBA graduates. Here's a great video that summarizes the role and shows what a typical day can look like.

As mentioned in the video, product managers sit at the intersection of business analytics, design, and engineering functions. They need to carefully balance the considerations of these three areas while keeping a laser focus on the customer experience to deliver high quality products on a strict schedule. In terms of the day-to-day, product managers generally have the following responsibilities:

  • Be a product evangelist & champion within the company
  • Define the market and customer
  • Determine launch timing and create sales and marketing materials about the product
  • Define the problem the product is solving and product's value proposition
  • Conduct competitive analysis on other products
  • Define the product requirements and roadmap
  • Be the internal and external stakeholder for product communication

Product management is an exceptionally tough role to land straight out of school but there are many product-adjacent roles that are more accessible, such as Project Management, Software Engineering, and Business Analyst roles.

Learn from the pros

Corie Miller
Product Manager

Corie is a Product Manager for #BUILTBYGIRLS, a mentorship platform helping young women find mentors in the tech space based in New York. Corie graduated from Washington University with a degree in Physics before starting her career in Product Management.

On the role

"Product management is about customers. It's about the business. It's about solving problems and making shit work! Product managers are wrong a lot, but they look to the customers and the business to figure out why and pave a new path forward."

"My day-to-day really depends on where I am in the product development lifecycle. Close to a new feature launch everything shifts to the technical tasks needed to make it happen. Between launches I get to go back to the drawing board and do product research and strategic planning. "

"As a one person Product Management team at a small company, I have develop both the user-facing features as well as internal products to increase the team's efficiency. I love the opportunity to build prototypes to test my hypothesis before we invest too heavily in engineering resources. It gives me a creative outlet and technical exposure that I think helps me understand the design process better for when we get around to developing full-fledged features."

Tips for would-be product managers

"You don't need a computer science background to get into product management. You should, however, by willing to learn some fundamental technical skills. It will help understand the development process and make you a better PM."

Other resources

Our podcast interviews with product managers