16/30: Product Management Is a Tough Job

Time for some real talk: product management is not a job everyone would enjoy. It’s a tough job. But it’s not necessarily tough in the way you might think it is.

It’s not only about being technical.

Some of Big Tech used to only hire former software engineers as product managers. Because, historically in software development, those were simply the first product managers in tech. This bore the idea that to do product, you need to be technical or a coder.

We’ve dispelled that myth, and product managers now thrive in a variety of different companies regardless of their backgrounds. I myself studied linguistics and worked as a poetry translator before making the switch into tech.

It’s not just about managing relationships.

Product is a comprehensive role that requires regular collaboration with designers, engineers, data scientists, analysts, product marketers, customer success folks, salespeople, occasionally finance and legal — and that’s just listing the internal stakeholders.

We’re also interviewing users, working with agencies, communicating with vendors, third-party service providers, and sometimes even negotiating supply contracts.

And it’s not merely about having product sense.

The as yet formally undefined ability to understand how to build and ship product that succeeds, a product sixth sense that helps identify opportunity through sheer intuition and a keen business sense.

The gaze into the product crystal ball that lets a person see into the future and take educated risks. You’ve either got it or you don’t. But it can certainly be developed.

All of the above makes product tough.

But like with any job, and perhaps with every job as broad-reaching as this one, one thing is constant — you’ve got to upskill, learn, and grow to stay in the game.

From keeping up with new tech out there to staying on top of developments in the community, frameworks, methodologies, over new business models, ways of selling, and having an opinion on everything from “product owners” to “scaled agile” — product management is a living, bustling field that's constantly evolving.

And that means you have to, too. But that’s what makes it all so fun in the first place!


17/30: Product Leaders to Follow