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Product Manager

Whether a company is a tech behemoth creating cutting-edge software applications or a small manufacturing firm developing widgets for wholesale, a product manager likely oversees the process of bringing any new product into the market.

What is a Product Manager?

Product managers are decision-makers. From ideation to production, decisions made by a company’s product manager will affect a company’s bottom line. Whether they work in software or hardware, product managers juggle many roles.

“The role sits at the intersection of business, technology, and design, combining strategy, marketing, leadership, and other skills with the end goal of launching an amazing product,” Tech writer Laurence Bradford writes in Forbes.

The position may also include marketing, forecasting, and profit and loss analysis.

A product marketer may sit behind a desk, developing and coding. They also might be working in the production plant where the product is made.

What Does a Product Manager Do?

Product managers determine demand for a product or service offered by their company, oversee product development, and monitor trends. They may also develop pricing strategies for the product.

Customer validation plays a major role in determining the demand for the product. Product managers may conduct interviews with current and potential customers for the product.

Ken Norton, a Google Ventures partner and former project manager for Google, said in a blog post that the role involves making lots of small decisions, lots of thinking big and strategizing.

“But it’s the little decisions where a great PM distances him or herself from a decent one,” wrote Norton. “You know they’ve got the ‘spidey-sense’ product instinct when they suggest approaches that nobody on the team has thought of, but immediately strike everyone as obvious when they hear them.”

Product managers oversee product line budgets and train product-facing staff.

Leadership and communication skills are critical in this profession. Product managers lead cross-functional teams from a product’s conception and customer validation all the way through to its launch and marketing.

Experience Requirements

People don’t start their careers in product management. Typically, the job requires about five years of related experience, with about two or three years in a supervisory role.

Executive Coach Julia Austin in the Harvard Business Review says that many of the skills that are critical to success as a product manager can begin to be developed in the classroom, but will be further developed on the job with experience, good mentoring and role models. She lists core competencies of a product manager as:

  • Conducting customer interviews and user testing
  • Running design sprints
  • Feature prioritization and road map planning
  • The art of resource allocation (it is not a science!)
  • Performing market assessments
  • Translating business-to-technical requirements, and vice versa
  • Pricing and revenue modeling
  • Defining and tracking success metrics

According to Payscale.com, applicants with a background in marketing often have a better chance of being hired and of demanding a higher salary, especially applicants with strategic marketing experience.

The Bureau of Labor and Statistics predicts that management careers are expected to grow by 8 percent by 2026. Payscale.com puts the median salary for product managers at $80,866.

Pursuing a career as a product manager

If you’re looking to pursue a career as a product manager, look no further than Campbellsville University. At Campbellsville, we offer numerous fully online business programs, including our online Bachelor’s in Business Administration and our online Marketing MBA.

Whether you’d like to complete undergraduate studies or advance your career with a graduate degree, Campbellsville can help you achieve your goals. Our online MBA was ranked among the top 100 similar programs by U.S. News and World Report. OnlineMBA.com ranked Campbellsville’s Online MBA as 24th in top programs among private schools offering an MBA.