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How do you decide if you should follow the IC PM path or the people leader PM path?

2 Answers
Anton Kravchenko
Anton Kravchenko
Carta Sr. Director of Product ManagementFebruary 3

Different folks would enjoy different things e.g. if you are an introvert -- the IC track might be more suitable as you will be spending a good chunk of your time creating docs, prototypes, etc. It's fun -- just a different kind of fun. If your personality craves people interactions, the people leader track might be more appropriate. 

Being a good people manager is hard, you need to lead by example and support your team whenever they need you. You also need to be comfortable with confronting people by giving them radical candor. Staying "nice job" to something that you think is a "bad job", is not an option. You need to help people grow and it's harder than it seems. 

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Vasudha Mithal
Vasudha Mithal
Care Solace Chief Product OfficerDecember 6
  • Understand if your skills and interest align with the path:

    • IC: Become a topic expert, typically going deep in more technical topics e.g. you really love doing SEOs or healthcare billing. You like to work more independently, actively driving implementation, staying much closer to engineering a solution. You are not shy to take multiple technical courses to become an expert in an area.

    • People Manager: You know enough about a variety of topics to guide the work of someone else, ask the right questions, understand topics w/o having to go too deep into them. You know about a variety of topics but can't execute on everything on your own - while guiding a few more people, you feel confident that you can magnify your impact. You are genuinely interested and vested in making someone else's career a success - you'll have to spend enough time understanding the skills of your team, creating growth opportunities for them.

  • Don't feel stuck - people move across roles all the time. If something is not vibing, just don't linger on it for too long.

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