How to Become a Product Manager in 2023
As companies increasingly focus on digital products and services, the role of the Digital Product Manager has become proportionally important and in demand. Product management is a hugely diverse role that comes with a lot of responsibility and exciting career growth opportunities. As more and more companies shift their focus to digitally-enabled products, Digital Product Managers are becoming crucial to their success, offering PMs exciting opportunities for growth and specialisation.
Job seekers with a passion for working with people, technology, and business may find product management an ideal career choice, with ample job opportunities in the current market. Let’s dive deep into exactly what the role of a (Digital) Product Manager is, how it fits into a business’s structure, and how you can upskill yourself for this role.
The rise and rise of Digital Product Managers
Product Managers have been around for many years – albeit often as a function without a clear definition. But with technological transformation rapidly changing businesses’ processes, people, and systems, the job title has evolved and the associated responsibilities have become more solidified. This essential role now sees its incumbents as responsible for the end-to-end life cycle of digital products – from concept to launch, the customer journey, and beyond.
Today’s Product Managers drive innovation and are responsible for the larger business objectives that a product or feature will fulfil. They map out how to turn visions into reality and articulate what success looks like for that product.
Product Managers have become one of the most sought-after new hires across every business around the world and are listed as one of the top most in-demand tech jobs for 2023.
US-based management consulting firm, McKinsey & Company, says, “The role of the Product Manager is expanding due to the growing importance of data in decision-making, increased customer and design focus, and the evolution of software-development methodologies”.
Product management jobs are quickly becoming a way for people with non-technical backgrounds to earn the high salaries that come with working in the tech industry. With high job satisfaction and a median base salary of £69,888, Technojobs rates product managers as one of the top 10 IT and tech jobs in 2023.
Where do Product Managers fit in a company’s structure?
Product Managers act as the central point of communication and work closely with company management and clients, as well as designers and sales, marketing and engineering teams – just about everyone involved in a product’s lifecycle.
McKinsey estimates that around 80% of Product Managers are involved in design activities and go-to-market decisions, while 50% are involved in decisions around pricing. Interestingly, the report shows 60% of Product Managers have the basic data analytics skills needed to draw insights from metrics without relying on analysts.
What background do you need to become a Product Manager?
Product management really is a diverse role. Generally speaking, a Product Manager will have knowledge of business, marketing, data analysis and technology, plus excellent communication and organisational skills. Essentially, the ideal PM will have a solid mix of technical, business and human skills.
Delving a little deeper, product management requires being able to think strategically, having a good dose of business acumen, and being able to manage complex projects and processes. This means anyone who has worked in business analytics, marketing, or engineering, for instance, or has people and project management skills, will have honed some of the essential skills needed for the role. Similarly, those who have worked in customer-facing roles, such as in retail, sales, and customer service, and design-related disciplines such as UX, will already have the user-centric mindset of a Product Manager.
Product School, a Silicon Valley company specialising in product management, recently published their third annual Future of Product Management report. They surveyed 5,000 Product Managers to get to the heart of what it means to work in this field and found that while Product Managers were once largely drawn from tech backgrounds, this is no longer the case. In fact, it’s reported that the most successful Product Managers don’t come from any one specific background. Instead, their success in the role comes from their ability to draw on their transferrable skills and approach problems with varying perspectives.
Typical Product Manager responsibilities
The responsibilities of a Product Manager vary greatly, depending on the company you’re at or the product you’d be working on. In general, a digital Product Manager’s daily tasks involve both inbound and outbound tasks:
Inbound tasks – or a focus on product development
- Planning and strategising
- Product roadmap development
- Product testing and launch
- Project and people management
- Monitoring the performance of the product
Outbound tasks – or a focus on marketing and sales
- Product branding
- Promotion and marketing
- Sales and distribution
- Customer communication and feedback analysis
- Monitoring the business success of the product
To get a more comprehensive overview of the responsibilities a PM would have, scour job boards and take a look at job postings to see what the requirements are. This will help you identify trends across industries and seniority levels.
How to develop the skills needed to become a Product Manager
The most successful Product Managers are equipped with the technical, business and human skills required by the role. The King’s Product Management Career Accelerator offers a project-based learning programme that allows you to apply what you learn to real-world examples, giving you a holistic idea of what working in the role entails. Developed in partnership with leading industry partners and digital humanities experts from King’s, you’ll get to connect with people who have years of experience in product management. You’ll also have access to a dedicated Career Coach and Success Manager, who will help you identify where your current skills are, which ones can be easily transferred to the PM role, and which growth areas you need to focus on.
Whether you’re wanting to start your career as a Digital Product Manager, pivot into the role or advance in your current position, the King’s Product Management Career Accelerator can help you:
- Gain strong foundational product management knowledge and skills in product design, prototyping and testing. You’ll also learn agile methodologies, launch strategies, product growth and analytics, all in the context of product and organisational strategy.
- Develop the human skills you need to thrive, such as communication and influencing, stakeholder management, prioritisation, decision-making and problem-solving.
- Acquire the relevant, practical abilities that get you hired through an Employer Project that has been co-designed by tech and employer partners. This not only gives you a sense of what a real-world business case might look like but also gives you exposure to an industry network.
- Develop key employability traits and personal skills by attending 1:1 sessions with a Career Coach.
- Learn from leading industry experts and academics throughout the course.
Ready, set, go
If you think the Career Accelerator might be the right choice for you, reach out to one of our friendly Enrolment Advisors to discuss where you’re at and where you’d like to go. They’ll give you more information about how our Career Coaches and Success Managers can enable you to harness your transferable skills and keep you on track to meet your present and future career goals.
- Book a call to discuss the King’s Product Management Career Accelerator. The next intake starts 24 April 2023.