Friday, April 05, 2019

The career path of a product manager

Building a career as a PM is like building a product - you must actively manage and direct the process. It won't happen magically by itself.

Product Management entry points

There are no hard and fast rule, but there are three common entry points:
  1. New graduate hire . (APM/PM role)
  2. Switch from near PM roles (Project Manager, MBA, Product Marketing)
  3. Former entrepreneurs

The PM Career ladder (directional guidance)

Warning! This is a straw man career ladder to provide directional guidance. Below, we've enumerated the key drivers of variance (e.g., company size, equity compensation).
TitleTenure (yrs)Salary ($)Responsibilities
Associate Product Manager2 - 3$80K - $100K
  • Launching small features
  • Collecting user feedback
  • Analyzing usage data
Product Manager2 - 3$100K - $160K
  • Launching features
  • Managing product roadmaps
  • Driving inter-team collaboration
Senior Product Manager2 - 4$160K - $200K
  • Leading a sizable product line(s)
  • Acting authority on his/her product
  • Interfacing with company execs
Group Product Manager2 - 6$200K - $250K
  • Managing a few PMs
  • Managing a few products (via team)
  • Owning large parts of company roadmap
Director / VP of Product Managementn/a$250K+
  • Managing multiple PM teams
  • Managing multiple product lines
  • Helping define company strategy
  • Representing company externally

Drivers of variance in the PM career ladder

  1. Equity (Equity percentage)
  2. Responsibility set (startup vs big companies.. usually one level is adjusted)
  3. Promotion Cycle (hard and longer cycle of promotion in big companies.

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