I had been in a few discussions with my mastermind groups. Occasionally, people had shared their passion to move to Product Management.

And usually after that, the first question they ask is: “What does product manager really do?”

But before I answer that question, let’s look at the definition of a product.

Wikipedia defines it as:

a deliverable or set of deliverables that contribute to a business solution

It can be a service or a physical thing, but for every product there is a goal behind it.

Sometimes the people responsible for building that product are more focused on the product itself. They could build the most innovative solution which takes a few years to be developed and finally once it reach maturity and it is ready to be placed in the market placed, there is no one to buy it.

Could you think of few examples where great product never reached the marker?

One of the famous examples was about Ford Edsel, which turned out to be a huge flop!

It was supposed to be the go to car for the middle class market and Ford motors, market it in 1958. Taken into account the 400 million dollars invested to develop and market the product, it didn’t resonate with the customers.

The price and the niche were not well defined and the customers at that price range were looking for different quality in the product – car.

The reason for sharing this example is to demonstrate that it’s not the most important thing for a product manager to design and develop great products.

The first step in becoming a product manager is to know your market.

Indeed, only when you know the marker you are in and what the customers expect from that market you will be able to design good products for that segment. It is hard to create a new segment. That is why if you would like to start and transition to a Product Management career, you must do the research upfront. What the company’s current customers want and need. What are they buying at the moment and why?

It is easy to take a good market and design a product for it, then to start from scratch. That is why sometimes it is better to join a big company to gain this experience compare to starting in a startup environment. Because in a big company one bad decision is seldom the end of the company and for startups, this could be the difference between make it or break it.

A step forward

Join an event that could help you in learning how to design a product, there are many opportunities you could explore. One of them is joining event called Startup Weekend where you will not only learn but also practice valuable skills that are needed for every Product Manager. After you master those skills, then the next step would be to build a portfolio with ideas you could show to the potential company you would like to join and this is how will be on the right path to become a Product Manager.

Aleks Vladimriov is a Senior Software Developer, recognized Project Manager and Soft-skilled trainer and a coach.

Aleks Vladimirov

Solution Engineering Manager at Thales | Senior IT Professional | Startup Mentor and Product Manager

Aleks is experienced Product Manager with an engineer background and over 10 years of experience as a software developer. He works with different governments and is responsible for negotiation features and requirements, understanding the customers’ needs and supporting the senior management with regular reports and analysis. He held various positions starting as a software developer, moving to a team leader and software architect.

He strives in waterfall and agile environment alike. He is certified Scrum Master and Prince2 Practitioner and he knows how to design business processes and help teams optimize their work.
During his tenure, he had to wear many hats, prioritizing business requirements, delegating work and mentoring team members, creating mockups with Balsamiq, providing MS Project plan to the senior management.

He had worked in many international teams, located in the same city or distributed in different countries and continents. He had been a team leader of cross functional international team of 8 people.

In his current position, he is very much client focused. He has excellent presentation skills.
He delivers training sessions on presentation skills and leadership and he had helped hundred of people to improve their presentation skills.

He is also interested in creating more positive changes in the workplace by using entrepreneurship skills.
He had won startup competition where his team had validated and develop a business idea from scratch.

In his free time, he writes in his blog about effective product development.

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