Many companies require Product Managers to have a technical background – whether it be a formal Computer Science degree or experience with writing code. Is this really necessary to succeed as a Product Manager?
Jori Bell from Spotify shared her own experiences about starting out as a young Product Manager without a technical background. She was self-conscious of her lack of tech knowledge until she realized that she could bring another kind of value to the team without knowing how to code.
Here are the main points from her recent event:
Product Manager at Spotify
Jori Bell is a Product Owner at Spotify. Before Spotify, Jori was a Product Manager all over New York City. She has worked at SoundCloud, Rolling Stone and AOL, Inc. Jori hails from Chicago and has a soft spot for deep dish pizza. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism.
Do Product Managers Need to Be Techy?
Many Product Managers are self-conscious about their lack of technical background, but technical skills aren’t everything when it comes to Product Management. Jori Bell broke down the myth of needing technical skills to be a successful Product Manager.
She talked about how you need to understand the types of skills that will make you a successful Product Manager. She gave value to the fact that you need to figure out how you can bring non-technical value to a team, and build trust with a technical team. Jori also mentioned some challenges that non-tech Product Managers might face.
- There are as many definitions of product management as there are product managers. The main reason for this is because product is emerging and transient, and it lacks a craft. It’s also different depending on where you go.
- Product Management is at the intersection of business, technology, and user experience. However, to become a product manager you don’t need to be an expert in all of them.
- Product is growing all the time. Nowadays, there are places, such as Product School where you can go and learn about product management. There are more and more Product Managers that come from untraditional backgrounds.
- “Own what you don’t know.” For example, in job interviews, you shouldn’t be afraid of saying straight what you don’t know. Afterwards, you can tell what other skills you can bring to the team.
- More important than knowing how to code are excellent communication skills, and understanding UX and business strategies.
- You can build up your tech knowledge in internships before breaking into product, and by reading blogs related to product Management.
- Product Managers need to know “enough” tech to work with engineers which means that they need to know:
- The concepts of coding, not coding itself.
- How to ask the right questions.
- How to inform decision making.
- How to map out different concepts.
- The engineers, on the other hand, need that the Product Manager
- Is the voice of the consumer.
- Is the business owner (business goals.)
- Has context (sees the bigger picture.)
- Engineers don’t need Product Managers to tell them how to do something but instead why they need to do it.
- Technical Product Managers can be limiting for engineers.
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