Getting Started in Product Management


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Original survey research presented by Kyle Warneck at Silicon Valley Product Camp 2013 highlighting the most common career paths for those looking to break into product management.

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  • Poll of the roomCurrent/Former PM’sAspiring PM’sFunctional Work Area?EngineersMarketingFulltime StudentsSomething else?
  • In the spirit of share what you knowI’m new at this, but I can tell you how I got hereWhat do once you become a pm . . Should probably ask some one elseHoping for lots of room for conversation
  • A bad PM can do a lot of damage.
  • End of Lateral Career Path
  • End of Lateral Career Path
  • 1 product manager for every 7 devs and 1:1 with Dev MgrsRise of product Managers in senior rolesHow did you get the job
  • Surveyed 63 current and former PMsSmall Sample SizesSkewed by my friends and coworkers (lots of Monkeys & SurveyMonkeys)Not so much who gets the job or why get this job?Skewed by the Monkey (and my friends)YMMVAlso surveyed prospective pm’s, but not enough to report onA few good ideas from other places
  • Crazy paths into 3 Company foundersStraight from MBAsCame up through the organizationIfthis is not you, it’s ok to leave
  • Tough question and worthy of a session on it’s ownRefers more to where you sit in the organization more than your day to day jobBy nature cross functional and the job changes by day and by roleMarketing copy and a db diagram (don’t necessarily need to write either one)SurveyMonkey 13 folks – marketing focussedvs feature focussedYelp has 15 – two groups (advertisers and reviewers)Exec’s provide the why, You provide the what, the engineers provide the how
  • 13th annual1,500 people
  • Some general observations from the survey
  • Why Does the organization need a product manager
  • Lots and lots of “Other”
  • Vs 50% in general populationAttending product camp.Or speaking at a conference . . .Not generally
  • I wasn’t hired for my mediocre CSS skills
  • Idiosyncratic
  • Nearly twice as likely to have MBA as internal transfers (27% vs 15%)Less likely to have some other degree (7% vs 35%) Similar mix of previous functional work areas
  • Slightly Fewer EngineersMore MBA Analyst Types
  • More Senior?More Analysis
  • This works, but usually combined with internships and a good previous work experience
  • Small Numbers
  • Rich Mironov doesn’t use themAne neither do IBut I liked the reading list
  • Two reasons to do a start upMoney and opportunity1/3 of the PM’s on the Product Manager Team at the Monkey
  • Manage your career like a businessDifferentiateBe Entrepeneurial
  • Think about what’s your differentiatorSacrifice earnings for learnings- like a startup in pre-profit mode
  • Glad to share the full data set
  • Getting Started in Product Management

    2. 2. Who are you?
    3. 3. Who Am I? 
    4. 4. The goals of the session In the spirit of teach what you know . . . Share the results of a survey Share some good ideas from others Provide a forum for others to ask good questions
    5. 5. The Problem: Need ExperienceFirst, remember that hiring managers strongly prefer candidateswho are already product managers. Unfair? Sure. What youwant to hear? Probably not. But that’s the cold, hardreality. Would you want to hire a newbie ?“Getting Your First Product Management Job”Rich Mironov, Mironov Consulting
    6. 6. The Problem: No Entry Level Job
    7. 7. The Problem: Showing Expertise as a Generalist
    8. 8. But somebody gets the job, right?
    9. 9. Survey Research to the Rescue Survey of 63 Current and Former PM’s And a few good ideas from other places Your mileage may vary!
    10. 10. In scope: How do I get a job?
    11. 11. Out of scopeWHAT IS PRODUCT MANAGEMENT?
    12. 12. Out of Scope: Required SkillsThe Product Manager Getting Started Guide Mike Goos, VP of Products, Alohar Mobile, Inc
    13. 13. Out of Scope: Who should be a product manager? 2012-2013 Annual Product Management and Marketing Survey Pragmatic Marketing
    14. 14. Making the Jump to Product Management THE CONTEXT
    15. 15. The Importance of Context: Timing25%20%15%10%5%0%
    16. 16. Organizational Change11.7% of respondents made the jump as part of an acquisition
    17. 17. Making the Jump to Product Management HOW
    18. 18. A Few Popular Paths50% 46.7%45%40%35%30% 25.0%25%20%15% 11.7% 10.0%10% 6.7% 6.7%5%0% Internal Transfer External Hire Company AcquiredGrad School Undergrad Company From From Started
    19. 19. Path 1: Internal Transfer50% 46.7%45%40%35%30% 25.0%25%20%15% 11.7% 10.0%10% 6.7% 6.7%5%0% Internal Transfer External Hire Company AcquiredGrad School Undergrad Company From From Started
    20. 20. Where Orgs Look for TalentFrom What Color is YourParachuteQuoted in “How Employers Prefer to Find Job Candidates”
    21. 21. Internal Hires by Previous Role UX/Design 4% Marketing 17% Engineering 48% Other 31%
    22. 22. Job Titles of Internal HiresAccount Technologist Product Marketing ManagerAssociate Panel Manager Project ManagerDirector of Analytics Project Manager / DeveloperDirector of Engineering QA EngineerDevelopment Senior Business AnalystEditorial manager Senior Customer OperationsEditorial Services Manager ManagerFirmware Design Engineer Software ArchitectIncident manager Support AnalystManager of Customer Relations Technical ProducerManager, Software Engineering Technical Product MarketingOnline Marketing Manager ManagerProduct Analyst Technical WriterProduct Engineering manager Usability Engineer
    23. 23. Subject Matter Experts “I was in Software project management beforegetting into product management. Essentially what happened was that I became a product subjectmatter expert after wrapping up a project and therewas no one to take management over the product so I did.”
    24. 24. Internal Hires are Learners! 15%27% MBAs Other Adv. Degree Certification (no adv. Degree) 35% No additional training19%
    25. 25. Stepping Stone Jobs – Specialist First“Anyone trying to get started as a product manager in a software company should first understand thedifference between Technical Product Manager and Product Marketing Manager roles . . . entry-levelones are typically cast in one direction or the other.”
    26. 26. You Never Know . . . “Journalism degree and 10 years of newspaper experience were an excellentfoundation for becoming a product manager.”
    27. 27. Path 2: External Hire50% 46.7%45%40%35%30% 25.0%25%20%15% 11.7% 10.0%10% 6.7% 6.7%5%0% Internal Transfer External Hire Company AcquiredGrad School Undergrad Company From From Started
    28. 28. Educational Background40%35% 34%30% 27%25%20% Internal Hire 16%15% External Hire10% 7%5%0% MBA Other Adv Degree
    29. 29. Functional Work Area are Similar60%50% 48%40% 38% 31% 30%30% 23%20% 17% External Hire Internal Hire10% 8% 4% 0% 0%0%
    30. 30. Job Titles of External HiresAnalyst IT Systems AnalystDirector, Product Ecommerce ManagerMarketing community managerPrinciple Engineer CTO Co-founderBusiness Analyst Business OperationsSr. Associate AnalystHead of Production Associate ConsultantEngineering Manager Program ManagerProgrammer
    31. 31. Path 3: Go to School50% 46.7%45%40%35%30% 25.0%25%20%15% 11.7% 10.0%10% 6.7% 6.7%5%0% Internal Transfer External Hire Company AcquiredGrad School Undergrad Company From From Started
    32. 32. Straight out of Grad School90.00% 83.33%80.00%70.00%60.00%50.00%40.00% 33.33%30.00%20.00%10.00% 0.00% MBA Other Adv Degree
    33. 33. What They Did Before60% 50%50%40% 33%30%20% 17%10%0% Engineering Finance HR
    34. 34. What They Say . . .“I have product manager intern experiences in a Techfirm”“I got my MBA after I started in prod mgmt, but it wastotally worth it because it opened doors to companiesthat wouldnt have looked twice at my resume (evenwith Sr Prd Mgr on it).”
    35. 35. Certificate Programs
    36. 36. Certificate Programs? Certification/Training RespondentsAIPMM Certified Product manager 3Certified Scrum Product Owner 3UC Berkeley Executive Education Product 2Management programProduct Owner Agile developmentCertificate in Marketing from Berkeley 1extensionPragmatic Marketing 1New Product Development ProfessionalValue Innovation BlackBlot Product 1Management
    37. 37. Path 4: Start Your Own Company50%45%40%35%30%25%20%15%10%5%0% Internal Transfer External Hire Company AcquiredGrad School Undergrad Company From From Started
    38. 38. A Few Final Thoughts
    39. 39. The Start-Up of YouThe Start-Up of YouBy Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha
    40. 40. The Start-Up of You “Bein motion and court selective randomness”. Look for Breakout opportunities
    41. 41. My Two Cents Learn Constantly Advertise your interests Look for senior sponsors Go find a great company and do awesome work!
    42. 42. Wrapping UpQUESTIONS? CONVERSATION?
    43. 43. Please take my survey!HTTPS://WWW.SURVEYMONKEY.COM/S/SVPCAMP
    44. 44. If you’d like tocontact me Kyle Warneck Product Manager, SurveyMonkey @KyleWarneck