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Which carrier path in your opinion, normally leads to the IT Product Manager (Product Owner) role?

Hey there,

Please advise, which carrier path in your opinion, normally leads to the IT Product Manager role? And what is the further carrier path options available for IT Product Manager?
What are the key competence required for Product Manager role?

Thank you. IT ProductManager Management carrier carrierpath ITproductManager

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14 answers


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Jackie’s Answer

I studied business and expressed interest in product management and landed a job that way. You could major in IT or business. Next identify what product you want to manage and apply on those positions.

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Ralf’s Answer

I see these as the most important competencies for a product manager:
- product: deep understanding of features, vision, and usability
- business: identify and follows KPIs (Key Performance Indicator)s, some data analytics skills
- management: excellent communicator, manage projects across many stakeholders
Given that a business or software design education is helpful. Best is to just launch some small software products, alone or with a coder.
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sri’s Answer

Hi Idris,

For this entry-level product role, hiring managers are looking for you to demonstrate both that you have an understanding of what product management is and that you have a clear interest in and passion for the customer. This first stop on the product manager career path is not like school. It’s not about knowing the most, working the hardest, or beating the competition. It’s more of an art. It’s about demonstrating your empathy for the user, highlighting your ability to identify issues and opportunities, and collaborating with others. It’s important to show you can hear all sides of a story, synthesize and assess the different perspectives, and arrive at a clear decision.
Good Luck!
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Becky’s Answer

For a career in product management, a good place to start is in the field of business analysis (business analysis / product owner). This role teaches you to break down a vision into meaningful work items, to satisfy business requirements and customer needs. You partner closely with product management and with development teams to build and release features. You grow confidence in decision making because you understand the inter-workings of your product domain. I did not study info systems or comp sci but grew the knowledge and skills I needed while in the role of BA. Some competencies and skills that are applied in this role include being business oriented, customer focused, organized, and basic technical knowledge in computer science starting out is a plus. Also, empathy and great collaboration.
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Cindy’s Answer

As someone who is trying to break into product management, my mentor has told me that there are 5 areas in which you need background/some sort of experience in: business, tech, design, data, and leadership. Having these skills will allow you to become a more successful product manager.
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Indira’s Answer

A degree is Business will surely help with the skills required to be a good product manager, but even a background in Engineering or Math is very valuable, especially if you want a career in IT. As a veteran Product Manager, I found that the most important thing is to be passionate about learning as the technology and business are constantly evolving!

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Vijayalakshmi’s Answer

For me as a Product Owner, I would say in short that a Product Owner is the one who focuses on delivering/producing outcome for customers and impact for your company/business rather than just delivering/producing output.
So I would say develop you skills to understand the big picture and understand your customers and end users and if the software that you are creating will really make the customer's life easier.
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Donal’s Answer

Many UX or product designers end up in product management, as do folks who have run or started their own business or start up and who wore many hats or did many roles.

UX or customer centricity is important and a background in start-up and/or UX design or research gives you that. Product managers or product owners that major in these areas do very well, compared to those who see product management as purely business decisions and tracking project timelines without understanding the customer outcomes, associated opportunities and risk or prioritisation of all these factors.
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Andrew’s Answer

Hi Idris,
Great question. Always my thoughts on such question is find your passion, talent and expertise and usefulness that you bring to the table. For this you need to keep asking the WHAT, what makes you feel engrossed and fulfilled on doing an activity. This is not easy but if you ponder and ruminate in solitude, you will figure.
Once you know that, you could then explore industries and verticals whether Transportation, Finance, Technology that aligns with your talent and passion. This could then help you to map those disciplines that you major in your school or college to take that progressive proclivity towards placement of yourself in a space where you could thrive and flourish and blossom into a wholesome person able to invigorate inner-self and outer-self.
Every such vertical industry has products that those organization pitch to the world to enable the company to serve the community. Be curious to know the Product in-and-out like yourself, soon you will gain the knowledge of how the product works either by being hands-on addressing issues or suggesting solutions and eventually implementing them. This would provide the wisdom how the Product functions and dysfunctions at the same time, do and don'ts. This will help you gain confidence and go from Strength to Power in becoming the go to person. Once you achieve this level of expertise and the usefulness you bring in for your own firm or for another you are leader and owner that no can question.
Always eventually ask the question WHY you are doing and What this product can do for others.
Real desire to master, duty of deliver and love to improve is an essential characteristic of a Product Owner or for that matter OWNER of anything that the Universe has to offer.
Best wishes.
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Adam’s Answer

Hi Idris,

There are many short-term school paths (as in, classes not at a university) designed at Product Management - that's probably the best way. However, many companies will want some "experience" in the field as well. As a product owner, you are responsible for ensuring your product is well made and useable. In my experience, that means the easiest way to get into Product Management is by supporting the product.

Support is not often viewed as a great job to have, but if you find the right company it is (look at newer tech companies for your best options) - it can be rewarding AND can launch you into the career trajectory you'd like. Think about it this way: who knows a product better than the people troubleshooting and helping with it all day every day? No one!

I've had multiple colleagues over the years move from support to product teams.

The best part is that you don't need formal training for most support roles - and you build up your skillset as you go, as well. You can supplement that support time with a product management program, and increase the likelihood of success of achieving your goal!


Bonus: If you're going to school, you can often supplement school with a support job to earn experience AND income.

Adam recommends the following next steps:

Find a product management program that looks like a good fit
Try to find a support role (when you're able)
It may take a while (be patient) - but work hard, become an expert, and apply your expertise and education!
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Clémence’s Answer

Hello,

To become a product manager, I have studied at college Information systems management, e-marketing, e-business, IT architecture in a business school. I started as a product owner and learnt about Agile methodologies, which I found very useful in my career so far.

To become a product manager, it is possible to come from IT with a good business appetite. I see many product colleagues coming from project management, operations, marketing, business analysis and doing great. It's just coming with different types of skillset, which is fine.
From product manager, we usually look up to product lead, product director, Chief Product Officer. That is the classic path but there are many options available. By learning about product management, you can switch to other parts of the business (maybe more easily to be done internally rather than making a jump from one company to another, but not impossible) or get very interested in Agile methodologies and become an Agile coach. Another option is, after years of experience, to become a product consultant and offer strategic help to companies.

Qualities to have in product management, from my experience, is a lot of curiosity for many parts of the business: for the IT of course, working closely with development teams, but all the other teams, what they do and how. Understanding the company ways of working can lead you to understand the company goal, mindset and growth appetite. This is how, as a product manager, you can define a vision for the product with the help of the business and the IT.
Other qualities: good communication skills (it's a lot of talking, sharing the vision and the ideas), good listening skills (to capture the right requirements) and a capacity to understand a business from a higher level perspective.

Hope it would help!

Clémence recommends the following next steps:

Research about product management and Agility. I recommend Roman Pichler blog: https://www.romanpichler.com/
Sign up for a few online (or face to face) product conferences (on Meet-up for example - in the UK)
Add product managers and product owners on Linkedin in the fields you're interested in (they might answer your more specific questions)
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Lucie’s Answer

Hello Idris,

I am not sure there is a set career path to be a Product Manager whichever industry you are in. Product Managers can come from everywhere and have their own flavors and experience.
A few ways to get to product management:
#1 Studies
I believe the most common studies is engineering + MBA but again many different path to lead you there.

#2 Experience
You can start directly as a product specialist or move to product management from many ways: marketing, engineering, etc.

#3 Skillset
Another angle of Product Management is in terms of skills. There are many product managers but some skills are usually helpful: Communication, Organization, etc.

I think that a good way to answer your question is that there are not set path to anything, you can build your own path and make switches in your career further down the road.

Hope this helps,
Cheers
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Kris’s Answer

The thing about a career in product management that I find to be so incredible and inspiring is that anyone who brings a passion for solving problems and curiosity to the role can be successful. I've worked with successful PMs who used to be lawyers, teachers, developers, consultants, support reps...on and on. I had a business degree and began my career as a management consultant, with an initial focus on digital content management solutions. I worked on projects across many industries until I ended up at client that required me to serve as a product manager. I had never heard of that role before, but came to find it was similar to consulting in that the core focus was on identifying and solving a customer/business problem (just with no coding required). So follow your curiosity and passion and study the requirements of job postings that you are interested in....devise a strategy to develop experience for the required skills and/or domain expertise and grow from there. Here is a good article that generalizes what the role is all about that can serve as a template for what you'll likely need to focus on: https://svpg.com/product-manager-job-description. Good luck!
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Woodson’s Answer

I agree with Adam that support roles are a good place to start if you want a career in technology because it's a great way to develop empathy for the user of a product. But you have to use the support role as a bridge to the world of product. A proven path to do this is to keep a list of product enhancements you learn that customers need, then offer to share those with the product teams periodically to become a trusted advisor to the product managers. Also ask customers who reflect these needs whether they would be open to an introduction to the relevant product manager to offer more feedback? Don't promise those conversations, but keep the names and numbers and offer to put product managers in touch with users who have relevant feedback for their work.
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