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Are you a Product Manager or a mini CEO?

31/07/17 Natalie Tyler Associate Director

The role of Product Manager is ever expanding and is gradually becoming all-encompassing. It is primarily due to the increasing use of data in decision making and evolution of software development methodologies such as Lean Architecture and Agile thinking.

The Product Manager position is akin to CEO of a specific product or focus area. The Product Manager must have the knowledge and skills to be strategic and operational, to commit and deliver on business objectives whilst overseeing technical development.

A company, before being anything else, is a product and this approach is what is increasing the importance of product managers. Unlike the PMs of the past who were primarily responsible for creating weekly or daily release charts and ensuring on time delivery of the engineered product. Present day CEOs are more dynamic and are performing a 360 degree role of engineering, design, sales, marketing and customer experience. They have high end MBA degrees with keen interest in technology or past engineering experience and are reaching out to the global audience for a feedback on their product.

Natalie Tyler, Manager for Sales and Marketing discussed further: “These all-encompassing and limitless job description are making product managers the virtual CEOs. The new Product Manager wears multiple hats , works with cross functional teams and has a say in every movement of the company, be it global expansion, the Go-To-Market strategy or acquisition. Examples of the transition of past PMs to CEOs include Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer and Microsoft’s Satya Nadella who both previously worked as a Product Manager before climbing the ladder to become the CEO. This is not a pattern or an industry need – it is the demand of the profile which eventually forges the Product Manager into the CEO.”

Natalie continues: “Product Managers are the glue that bind the many functions that touch a product—engineering, design, customer success, sales, marketing, operations, finance, legal, and more. They not only own the decisions about what gets built but also influence every aspect of how it gets built and launched.”

As more companies outside of the technology sector set out to build software capabilities for success in the digital era, it’s critical that they get the product management role right. Here are six critical characteristics of today’s Product Manager:

1) Understanding of business requirements and customer need

The Product Manager must have a solid understanding of the business requirements and customer need to ensure that the technology delivers and functions as it should. She/he should actually spend time talking to real customers to understand why they use the product and what goals they have.

They should then be able to marry those goals to an innovative and measurable solution that will achieve key business objectives.

2) Technical experience and knowledge

Ability to work rapidly with engineers and the design team to bring the product to market. This means making requirements and priorities crystal clear and then forging a path for the team to get work done. It also means being able to quickly understand customer requirements and identify problems in development process before they arise, adapting frequently to stay on track.

Ultimately it’s the product manager’s responsibility to ensure work is completed on time and to the right standard, so as well as having the resilience to make sure this happens even when the odds are against, he or she must inspire the team to adopt the same attitude.

3) Capability for working with customers and balancing different requirements

The Product Manager needs to be able to build relationships with customers to gather live feedback and act on it as appropriate. If the product fails, they need to understand where the fault lies. Product Managers can and should be metrics driven. But they also need to be able to balance that with understanding what the user is saying.

4) Aptitude for holding diverse and complex conversations with different groups of people

The role demands technical literacy and an ability to translate information to make the best, informed decisions. It also requires an ability to think politically and build relationships across the whole business and all levels.

5) Passion for continually exciting consumers

The work of the Product Manager is never complete. With the increasing pace and demand for innovation, there is a constant cycle of product iterations and development in line with customer requirements. No single release or moment is the great accomplishment. Instead, the key is that the product is continually loved by customers and that you are able to offer a delightful product experience.

6) Adaptability

Lastly, it’s essential that a Product Manager is able to adapt quickly to situations and changes in the business as they arise. It’s absolutely necessary that a Product Manager can rapidly look at the marketplace, customer, or internal changes and adapt their roadmap or team setup for success. This may take the form of changing how the team is organized, what the priorities are, or how a feature is built.

For more information on Redline’s current Marketing and Product Management jobs, please contact Natalie Tyler on 01582 450054 or email