Product management is such a vast topic that it can be hard for new and aspiring PMs to know what they should aim for. What skills and experience will help you to do the job?
There are various ways of categorising the different types of product managers. One popular way of defining the different roles is as builders, tuners and innovators. Most product management jobs will have elements of all three categories, but various projects will need you to take on different roles.
As we look more closely at the different product management roles, we’ll also look at examples of people working on each type of project right now and think about their product management portfolios.
The ‘classic’ product manager. They focus on taking an existing product and moving it on. They are great at listening to users and planning what needs to be done (and the best way to do it) to improve the user experience as much as possible.
Builders never really think that a product is finished and are always looking for fresh ways to refine and polish it.
Now in charge of driver engagement for Uber (where he has been since August 2014), Janakiram has listened to Uber’s drivers and used this information to improve their experience.
His portfolio includes Google’s Associate Product Management Internship and work at Honeywell, Google and YouTube.
Currently working for Amazon, since 2014, she has been developing and managing the product search plans in several countries.
Past experience includes work for Vtech, Lockheed Martin and Gilt. Her resume gives more specific details of the different roles she has fulfilled.
Tuners focus on fine-tuning their products as much as possible. They are great at testing products and analysing the results to identify and solve problems. They are always on the lookout for new ideas and ways to apply these to their products.
These types of product managers enjoy testing their hypotheses to see if they are correct and love to see how their work makes a project more successful.
Works for Google. Since March, he has been leading a project to improve the Search tool for users.
His portfolio includes several other PM roles for Google, as well as a range of software engineering jobs for different companies over the last 18 years.
Product manager at Facebook since 2012 where he works on improving the user experience
Internships for Google, Zeemote Inc., and Microsoft form the foundation of his portfolio which also includes many of his projects, past and present.
These PMs work with brand-new products to find their market fit. They enjoy starting from scratch and following a project right through to its final stages.
They can assess each iteration of a product and decide how to improve it in the next version. They are also able to identify when an entirely new approach is needed, instead of further iteration
Innovators are aware of the possibility of failure, since producing a new product can be risky.
As Senior Product Manager on Google’s Project Fi (2013-2016), she saw the product through from the early stages to its release.
Several internships – for ClickStream Technologies, Google and Foxmarks – form the basis of her portfolio, which also includes work for the Global Health Corps and Cooliris, as well as other product manager roles for Google.
Building your portfolio
As these product management portfolios show, you don’t have to decide to be a builder and stay that way forever. In fact, getting an experience of each of these roles is a great way to build a strong portfolio of your own.
While you’re developing your product management portfolio, consider the following:
- Aim to show experience of several different product management roles.
- Your resume should highlight your core skills.
- Include your website, presentations, videos, etc. that show your innovative capabilities.
- Have a good networking circle that knows the way you work and your achievements.
While your background and skills are likely to lead you in a particular direction, it is useful to demonstrate that you have experience of several different product management roles. This will make your portfolio seem more rounded than if it only shows a more narrow skill set.
Another advantage of having a range of experience in your product management portfolio is that
it will make you more aware of your skills and strengths.
Primary Keyword: product management portfolio
Variants: product manager, product management jobs, product management roles, senior product manager
Synonyms/ Antonyms: builders, tuners, innovators, resume, experience, internship