Where can learn about product management?
October 7, 2009 7:44 PM   Subscribe

Where can learn about product management?

I'm thinking of making a career switch into product management, and I'm looking for websites, classes in the NYC area, etc. that will help me figure out if this is a viable next step.

My background is in technical project management and marketing, so I've been exposed to pieces of the product management process, but developing a product end-to-end appeals to me, and the job descriptions I'm most drawn to are in this area.

Are you a product manager? How did you get started? What do you love/hate/tolerate about your job?
posted by snickerdoodle to Work & Money (2 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
To paint it broadly, and this is not quite what you asked, the main difference between what you're doing now and what you'd do as a product manager is the financials. I hated them, but I got good quickly, because I would have lost my job otherwise. Now I can justify churn rate forecasts with one hand behind my back. Also, I would rather not.

I worked as a Web product manager in NY for a while. I actually came to it from librarianship (to being a product manager for a database sold to medical libraries) and got a great opportunity and did most of my learning on the job. To be honest, I tried a bunch of books and didn't learn much of use from them. I learned the most from working with people who knew more than I did, especially about the financial end of things -- people who had MBAs and who were patient and expected a lot. Find these people now.

"Developing a product end-to-end" is kind of what I did, but it was just as much about being She With Whom the Buck Stops. Copy didn't get written? I did it. Someone needed to edit the terms and conditions live in the staging environment the night before a release? Me. I project-managed as well as product-developed. I managed marketing campaigns. So it sounds like a lot of the non-financial stuff might not be too different from what you've already been doing. If you can find a PM position that covers most of what you already do, go for it and don't get hung up on the title issue.

Feel free to drop me a memail, I'll be happy to chat further.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 7:56 PM on October 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

I came into product management largely by accident, actually. I was working in the IT department of a mid-size software company at the time, and I had pulled our VP of Product Management's bacon out of the fire, pulling three straight all-nighters doing an emergency QA cycle on an antispam appliance to ensure that ten million dollars of revenue could be recognized in the quarter we were in. Once that was said and done, I hit him up for a job, and ended up as a Technical Product Manager.

The problem there was that while my technical chops weren't in question, and I was able to pick up my product line (a desktop firewall/antivirus product) quickly, I really knew nothing about the discipline of product management. Fortunately, I was paired with a team lead who handled a lot of the business-side stuff like financials and marketing, and left me to do what I was good at - dealing with engineering, QA, the technical sales team, and the tech guys at our customers. Over time, working with my team lead, I picked all the other stuff up as well, but it took a year or two before I was really comfortable as a product manager.

Really, what I would recommend to you is to try and involve yourself in as much of the financial side of the product management process as possible. Find a mentor who's willing to let you look over their shoulder, and ask a ton of questions.
posted by deadmessenger at 9:22 PM on October 7, 2009

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