Sunday, December 15, 2013

Product Marketing to Product Management

Recently I had a conversation with a student graduating from Kellogg. The tale was pretty familiar - ex-consultant with engineering degree and MBA wants to transition to a Product Management role. Larger companies like Google, Amazon, Microsoft might give him/her opportunities, but smaller companies are very wary. How does one make the transition then?

Why are smaller companies wary?
Very simply put, they need someone to be productive as soon as possible, and be proficient in many aspects to be effective as a Product Manager (design, engineering etc.). And no experience prepares you for Product Management as does Product Management itself. So anyone with even some Product Management experience has a huge advantage. Experiences that help are - Engineering, Design, Marketing, Strategy. You will likely get just a subset of this in Consulting and through an MBA.

So what can one do?

Two routes come to mind
1. If possible, leverage your domain expertise along with other experiences. When I was recruiting for Lattice, I lucked out that I had taken a class in Predictive Modeling in Marketing, and done an independent study on applying the techniques I had learned to solve a similar problem to what Lattice does. I did this out of pure interest - helping @ Lattice was a lucky co-incidence.
2. Move into in adjacent role in the company in which you would like to become a Product Manager. Professional Services, Pre-Sales and Product Marketing are good roles. I especially recommend Product Marketing as you get to know the product, the customers and the market pretty well - if you are doing your job well, that is. You also build political capital and a good reputation through this route, which should help you make the transition.

So what route worked for you? Comment and let me know

No comments:

Post a Comment