All you need to know about being a product manager

Product Manager is a person who is responsible for identifying and building a solution for an unmet customer need. This person doesn’t write the code themselves but writes the requirements for engineers to build.
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If you work in the tech industry or follow it closely, you would know that Product Manager (PM) is the ‘It job’ in the industry right now. The position is often referred to as “mini CEO” of the company. Though the role is indeed glamorous, but it also comes with a lot of responsibilities.

Let's take a step back and unpack who is a “Product Manager”. Product Manager is a person who is responsible for identifying and building a solution for an unmet customer need. No, this person doesn’t write the code themselves but writes the requirements for engineers to build.

The best part is how much you get rewarded for it, both monetarily and when it comes to job satisfaction. Imagine lakhs of people using your brainchild to solve their daily needs – that itself is an amazing motivation to get up in the morning for me.

Earning potential

Now, let’s talk about money!

PM is one of the highly paid jobs in the market today, which makes it very lucrative and highly competitive.

Currently, a senior PM can expect around Rs 57 lakh in compensation annually. If you are a fresher, you can expect around Rs 13 lakh in annual compensation, whereas the industry veterans make above Rs 1 crore, which is what a grade C Indian cricketer currently makes. However, do note that not all companies offer such compensations, but only brands like Amazon, Flipkart, Uber, or well-funded startups.

That said, the earning potential is reflected best if you can build your own product and sell it on your own. The PM role best prepares you for just that.

Current prospects

Let’s talk about the current job openings for the role.

There has been a steady increase in the number of PM job openings since 2018, according to data from Naukri.com. The average number of PM job openings has grown by 21 percent (from Rs 6,000 per month to Rs 7,800 per month) between 2018 and 2021.

Future prospects

There is no denying that number of startups in India is growing rapidly. In 2021, there were over 60,000 government recognised startups in India. This number was merely 16,000 in 2020. Further, in 2021, around 44 startups reached a $1 billion in valuation. In a nutshell, it means the number of high valuation startups is tripling every year.

This harbours good news for PM aspirants because every technology startup will need PMs. Therefore, it makes sense to assume the demand will go up for the next decade or so following the Silicon Valley’s footsteps.

Another key indicator of rising demand is the Google search for the term “Product

Manager or Product Management”. We are seeing market has just starting to pick up some steam in this field. So, before the competition gets tougher, it is wise to get a head start.

What is the career path of PM?

Let’s talk about career growth as a PM.

The most common path for a PM is to go from an IC (individual contributor) to a manager, and then grow into an executive.

The CPO or Chief Product Officer role is quite new in the industry, and might not be present in many companies that are not technology-first, such as retail, but the head of product often steps into the VP role.

That said, the PM career can have a “dual” path — either the management or the Individual Contributor (IC) path.

While “People Manager” path can eventually make you the CEO of the company —

few such examples are Sundar Pichai, Marissa Meyer, and Satya Nadella — the IC role is for individuals who don’t want the hassle of managing lots of people.

The senior ICs directly report to the company executives and is equivalent to the well respected “Principle Architect” role in the software engineering domain. However, the IC career path is not very common in the industry currently, but more and more companies are embracing it.

How to break in?

Educational background

PMs come from various backgrounds. You don’t need a software engineering degree or an MBA to become a PM. However, you must have a good understanding of how software works.

Except Google, it is expected that no company will ask you to code in the interview. So even if you have a non-engineering background such as design, art or commerce, you can become a PM. The biggest validation on your resume is the things you have built.

The role expects a “hustler”, meaning someone who can get stuff done by whatever means within the realm of law. That is the drive you will need to break-in if you are coming from a non-traditional path.

So, in a nutshell, there are other ways to get your foot in the door like networking, boot- camps, and building stuff if you don’t have a traditional degree.

Getting your first PM gig

The first and critical step is writing a good resume that can get traction. It should highlight the skills and qualities of a product leader. Even if you have not launched anything in the past there are certain transferable skills that you can sell. So, it is critically important to write your resume tailored to the job.

There are several ways to break into Product Management. The most traditional path is from software engineering to PM’ing within the same company. But if you are not a software engineer or currently not working, there are a few strategies you can apply.

How do you know if you are a good fit?

Well, time for some real talk. Not everyone is cut out to be a PM. Different people have different abilities. So before following the herd try to assess your own skills, passions, and strengths.

I have curated a few fun questions that might test your appetite for being a future PM.

Try answering these questions and see if you enjoy the process:

How can you make money [honestly] on the internet within 48 hours?

A friend is coming to visit me this weekend, can you give me some suggestions for places to show around?

Tell me a product that you love and why? (digital or physical)

Edited by Kanishk Singh

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)

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