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What are the key traits you look for in hiring enterprise PMs?

4 Answers
D Matthew Landry
D Matthew Landry
Cisco VP Product Management, Cisco WirelessFebruary 23

Taking for granted a baseline of solid product management fundamentals and team simpatico, I feel the following play an outsize role in determining success in the enterprise:

  • Skeptical curiosity
  • Strong opinions, weakly held
  • Speaking and presentation skills, in front of senior execs & audiences
  • Ability to simplify and explain technical concepts
  • Interest in customers' industries and their end customers
  • Empathy for the sales team and how they sell
  • Familiarity with routes to market and channel ecosystems
  • Awareness of how all teams contribute to product delivery
  • Financial understanding of how the business operates
1586 Views
Rena Mashintchian
Rena Mashintchian
Box Director of Product ManagementMay 27

PMs are responsible for defining a winning product and rallying a team to deliver it.  It’s one of the roles that requires a large breadth of skills, as PMs sit at the center of technology, business and design.  Below are key traits that I look for when hiring a PM.  Beyond these skills, cultural fit and passion/excitement for the role are also important considerations.  Note that while it’s a bonus to have enterprise PM experience, it’s certainly not a requirement.

  • Intellectual ability - Ability to synthesize information, solve big hairy problems, make the right tradeoffs, and understand how to build a winning product strategy and execute on it.
  • Exceptional communication - Effective communication is essential in every facet of a PM’s job.  They should be able to effectively cater communications/content to any audience (e.g. C-level, engineers, customers, etc) to bring transparency and clarity to stakeholders.
  • Ability to lead, influence and collaborate - In order to rally a team to build and launch a product, PMs need to collaborate effectively with a myriad of teams (e.g. engineering, design, business development, marketing, sales, legal, security, etc), lead teams towards a common vision, and influence and inspire teams to reach a common goal.
  • Customer centricity - PMs need to deeply understand and empathize with customers in order to figure out their pain points and how best to solve them.  In the enterprise space, PMs should also understand the different user personas we need to serve, e.g. the buyers who purchase the products, the administrators who administer the products on behalf of their users, and the end users who use the products to get their job done.
  • Technical chops - While PMs don’t require a CS degree, they should understand the technical aspects well enough to credibly speak with engineers, understand and weigh in on technology tradeoffs, and be able to communicate technical details to customers and stakeholders.
  • Ability to be strategic and tactical - They should be able to define the big picture and execute to it and know when to zoom in and zoom out.
  • Product intuition - They should understand the ingredients needed to build a winning product.
  • Hunger, curiosity, and grit - These attributes will fuel someone to learn quickly, grow, think outside the box, and overcome when things get challenging.
1007 Views
Pavan Kumar
Pavan Kumar
Gainsight Director, Product ManagementMarch 3

One of the core functions of an enterprise PM (on top of being a specialist and a subject matter expert) is their knack for 'abstracting' and 'generalising' requirements. 

As such few (not an exhaustive list) pointers from a candidate's past experience where they have demonstrated some of these traits in their past work would help them stand out:

  • Identifying macro patterns that can be generalised, and productised. E.g. building a flexible user permission schema vs building standardized user roles
  • Data-driven decision-making capabilities - Proactively measure usage adoption, derive actionable insights that feedback into the product roadmap
  • Obsession to simplify 
  • Ability to identify monetizable assets and build product walls accordingly that provide incremental value

463 Views
Mike Flouton
Mike Flouton
GitLab VP, ProductMay 4

First and foremost - smarts. The basketball cliche is that you can't coach height. You can't coach a PM intelligence. 

Next up, is a deep relentless customer focus. In B2C, you can get away being a mediocre PM using yourself as a proxy for the customer. You probably have a decent perspective on what you'd like out of a smartphone, though you're still shortchaning a large part of your customer base who doesn't think or work like you. As an enterprise PM, it's totally different. If I didn't do the research, I would have absolutely no idea what an email security administrator does all day, the pain they have and the problems I need to solve. So the world class ones have a super strong bias for customer research. 

262 Views
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