Obviously this looks different at varying levels of tenure and experience, but
key themes are:
* Customer focus
* Business impact
* People / relationships
Customer focus speaks to if this person is able to put themselves in the shoes
of the customer, whether b2b or b2c, and experience the product the way our end
users do. Can they empathize with the user we are building for and their unmet
But this needs to tie back to results and impact. Is this person able to
understand what success looks like for the business, take a data-driven approach
to making decisions, and does this sh...more
This varies by organization. Regardless of the size of your product team, you
should have the expectations for each level of product well defined and
socialized throughout the organization (typically APM, PM, SPM, Group or
Principle PM, Director etc). Even if you are only a team of one, it helps to
have these levels defined, especially if you hope to hire new team members in
the future or you want to make a case for yourself down the road for a
That being said, I take a number of factors into account.
* Is this PM meeting or exceeding the expectations for their level?
The most important criterion for a promotion is:
Are you consistently performing at a level that would allow you to meet all
expectations of your next level.
This requires three things:
1. A clear articluation of what it means to perform at the next level:
Typically this includes a framework with levels, skill categories (strategy,
vision, execution, etc) and a description of what is expected at each level
for each dimension.
2. A role with an opportunity to perform at the next level: Often this will
require being in a stretch role for a few months so you get the opp...more
1. Ability to communicate well - Someone told me early in my career: The single
most important PM skill he looks for when hiring a PM is communication.
Communication is really a proxy for building trust, driving alignment,
having healthy debates when there’s conflict and committing to a path
forward. That’s all under the hood of good communication, and is
instrumental in driving product teams forward.
2. Data driven mindset - relevant to qual as much as to quant. Ask yourself and
teams the right questions. Become familiar with qualitative research tools,
This ends up being a function of what company you work for and what
industry/domain your company is in. As a general principle, your organizational
chart should always reflect the vision and strategy that your company is working
on, not the other way around. Otherwise, you risk shipping your org chart. I’d
recommend that you don’t figure out resourcing and organization until you know
what you are solving and why. Once you have that, then you can determine what
structure sets your teams up for success. And then you can align your
organization on goals and problems to build a culture of colla...more
Part of what drew me to Consumer Product and why I love it so much is that as
individuals, we are all consumers. I studied Consumer Marketing and Consumer
Psychology as an undergrad and I've always been fascinated by why people make
the decisions they do with their time, money and attention. So, as a consumer
yourself in many cases as a PM it can be easier to more deeply understand your
customer, even if you are not the target user for your product.
In B2B, PMs also deeply understand their users, but typically in the context of
their livelihood - how your product helps them more effectivel...more
One key skill gap that is quickly closing but still exists is the ability to
creatively solve holistic problems for customers. The challenge is B2B PMs often
times work so closely with customers that its hard to resist just building
exactly what the customer is asking for. The challenge is products become
unweidly w/o having a POV on how to syntesize multiple asks into thematic areas
and then creatively solve those problems so the product can scale.
What I've found is the breakdown is not on the PM's creative problem solving
skills but instead
* Creative collaboration: PMs need to f...more
B2B and B2C PM’s bring very different strong suits. It’s not to say one is
better than the other, but they come with different competencies.
I’ve observed that B2B PMs are systems thinkers. They think end to end and
consider what it takes to build a robust business at scale. This runs the full
spectrum from security to payments to tools for administration and operations.
This is a great skill set in a world where many businesses are moving online and
there’s a high impetus for trusted and safe environments.
What I think B2B PM’s don’t have the opportunity to necessarily experience are...more
From a career ladder perspective, the typical career path is
* PM/Senior PM working within a specific team and demonstrating ability to
execute, deliver and prioritize
* Group PM managing multiple Product Managers and their respective teams
usually driven by an expansion of remit / impact area
* Director/Sr. Director Representing product stragegy and roadmap and
influencing decisions at the peer and executive level
* VP+ owning full product or business lines, accountable for key metrics
Generally your career growth in Product is very closely aligned to the size of
Early in your career, focus on absorbing and learning as much as you can -- what
product management is, what plays naturally to your strengths and interests.
Explore, be hungry, be curious. Tap into what really excites you and you’ll
discover what you really enjoy. Lean into opportunities to gather different
skills and gain exposure to different industries and domains.
By the time you hit mid-career and know you want to do consumer product
management, you’ll also get a sense for what you enjoy and what you don’t. For
e.g:, As a Senior PM, I knew that I enjoyed building marketplace B2C pr...more
The great news is Product is still a growing and evolving function and there are
tons of opportunities and an appetite to look at non traditional career paths
into product. In fact in most organizations that I've been part of, there are
many people wearing the 'product hat' who dont have the PM title.
What I look for
* Have worked with a product team: This isn't a necessity, but whether you're
in QA, Support, Marketing, if you actually work with product you have a
realistic view of what a PM's day to day is. I've found those who have not
have a bit of a idealized view of wha...more
There are really 3 types of consumer companies
* The bigs: Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Airbnb, Spotify etc - these are
mega corporations that have achieved product market fit and are now
monetizing at an incredible scale. In general their orgs are huge, processes
are locked in, and PMs have very thin surface areas to work on and usually
there is limited innovation vs optimization opportunities. But you are also
working on products that literally touch hundreds of millions of users daily.
* Hyper scale companies: these are companies that have found product market fit
As B2B products have evolved to be much more customer centric and "consumer
grade" the expectations of product management are largely the same and infact, a
lot of consumer PMs are finding great success in B2B by bringing their
techniques and experience and applying them to B2B.
You may have heard the term "product led growth" in many SaaS businesses. In
reality this just translates to a consumer principle of product/market fit and
validation through organic growth vs. a traditional enterprise top down / RFP
For PMs - one big difference in B2B is customer specific revenu...more
The jump from IC PM into product leadership whether as a Group PM or a Director
of Product is one of the most challenging progressions in a product career. At
this step a Consumer PM's career, the skills and behaviors that have helped them
excel as an IC PM - excellent execution, strong PRDs, great squad management are
not the exact ones required at the Director level. To earn this role, it's
important to really think about the responsibilities about the Director - the
main criteria of success are around building a strong team, ensuring that
they're working on the right things and that the ...more
In general, all PMs are responsible for impact and pace of execution for their
area. As you grow in career, the size of impact and area of focus expands, but
the same goals are true. The difference being as your remit grows, you are now
expanding to running multiple teams and working with broader stakeholders.
For those going up for director, that means a couple things:
* People leadership: Is your team executing well through good product
prioritization and impactful delivery. This is displayed through a balance of
mentorship of your Product Managers as well as partnerships with yo...more
In the past, many successful consumer products could be successful by executing
off of a single approach. You may have been an SEO driven org that was ok with
an inferior UX but converted really well. You could be a high UX driven org
where word of mouth spread based on the quality of the product, but the growth
funnels may have been less optimized.
Now the consumer expectations are so high and the competition of mindshare is so
intense that you do have to stick the landing and adopt the full suite of
approaches right out of the gate to drive consumer adoption. This includes a