How to become a Product Manager

Continuation of the interview with Paul Young
What advice would you give some one who wants to move into product management?
Product Management
is unique in that there isn't a well defined career path for a product manager, unlike operations or marketing. I don't know a lot of people who have intentionally sought out Product Management as a career, most people I know have "fallen into it." My best advice is to find a smaller company that is thinking about starting a Product Management group - it may be easier to break into than a large company. I also feel that being well rounded and having good business fundamentals are key.

If you're a developer, find some way to demonstrate your business savvy - you could even do this in your current job. Surprisingly few developers are "in tune" enough to understand the business and provide good trade offs; I'm dying for programmers who can tell me "I understand you want X, but how does Y work for you, it gets you feature a, b, c (but not d), at half the cost and time, and sets us up architecturally for the future." Instead of: "That feature will take 24 months."

If you're currently in a marketing or operations position, demonstrate that you can "speak geek." Since Product Managers are required to regularly interact with and negotiate with development, you need to be able to show that you have the street cred with the developers and that they're not rolling their eyes as you walk out and muttering "marketing idiot."


  1. I am currently in college, and i am doing an internship with a big company. My internship has nothing to do with product management, but through my interactions with Product managers, i believe that is what career i would like to get into. I am going to be a sophomore this fall, and i need to pick my major by the end of sophomore year. I was wondering what business degree i should attain, in order to be a product manager. I am not very into programming, etc.. are there any specific disciplines or class subjects that you suggest that i take, to be the most prepared for enetering the workforce in 2011? Also, what area do you suggest i start my career, to in the future move into product management, besides IT? Any advice or reccomendations?Thank yoU!

  2. I'm also in the same situation! I'd love to get into pm. Any suggestions?