The Career Path towards becoming a Product Manager
By Arijit Banerjee
Every great product that is out in the market today sees its production and staging at the hands of a product manager and his team. It falls to this team to develop a product that caters to consumers’ needs, while ensuring the quality and economical value of it. With a platter so filled with obligations, it comes as no surprise that product managers are often quick to rise in ranks within an organization. For an individual who likes to get down to the nitty-gritty of the production world, a career in product management is ideal. But how does one find a foothold in this field?
A large number of career options would require you to go through a predefined course of study. Product management is one field which provides you with the luxury of multi-faceted learning. Any knowledge is relevant knowledge for a production team.
Ideally, an education in a technical field, finance, marketing, or product design serves as a solid foundation in one’s pursuit in this field. Several reputed universities such as MIT, Harvard and Stanford offer a Science, Technology and Society (STS) major which is one of the most coveted product management certifications alongside the certification offered by Association of International Product management and marketing (AIPPM). Of course, Manipal Global Academy of Information Technology provides a world class study option in India, if you would like to pursue a post graduate certification in Product Management.
Internships and intensive market study
When it comes to product management it cannot be stressed enough that any knowledge is relevant knowledge. The best way to broaden the spectrum of knowledge that you possess is to undertake internships/trainings. Grab at any opportunity to study products, the market, and the general customer requirements. It is imperative that you keep yourself updated on all pertinent products, innovations and requirements in order to remain steps ahead. All these can help you bring about finesse to the product at hand which in turn determines its shelf life.
There are two viable options to get started in this industry. One, develop a product that is your brainchild. There are various government subsidies eager to hone and promote in-state production and development. Two, seek employment in a startup or reputed organization. A startup is often chided for its infancy, but these are often hubs for paramount learning. Pick an organization which challenges you with various learning roles. You may not necessarily find an entry level product management position, but do not be unnerved. A role in any technical or managerial field provides you with similar expertise. A good product manager is a fine integration of an engineer, HR personnel, accountant and leader with a plethora of skills under his hat.
Upgrade your skill-set
Product managers come from an eclectic mix of backgrounds ranging from technical to marketing fields. It is necessary to advance your skill set to keep up with a competitive market. While experience was the measure of competence back in the days, it is not the case now. The number of certifications that you possess and your proficiency on paper serves as the foremost manifestation of your abilities. By acquiring an assortment of relevant skills you are conditioned to look at production issues and aspects from more perspectives and this bolsters the quality of your management.
When one undertakes the role of product manager he undertakes the responsibility to roll-out a top-notch product. Being open to learning is an indispensible skill. While these steps are rudimentary they most certainly will elevate your performance and make a fine product manager of you.