Defining Product Management in 2019 with Product School’s CEO

This week Product School’s CEO, Carlos González de Villaumbrosia, hosted a Question & Answer session with our Slack Community to talk about the latest happenings in the world of Product Management. Check it out!


Where do I start to become a Product Manager in 2019?

Here are three things you can do to help you become a Product Manager in 2019

  • Build Something. Create something that demonstrates your ability to conceptualize and ship projects. You don’t need a team or a budget for this. It could be as simple as a website, or a mock-up on InvisionApp or Balsamiq.
  • Network. Online and in person. Get out there and start meeting Product Managers in your neighborhood. Attend some free events, make friends, and offer value. Your network will be an invaluable source of support and ideas and will be able to help you get a foot in the door when new hiring opportunities open up in your community.
  • Apply Strategically. If you’re brand new, you’re unlikely to get a PM job at Google right off the bat! Use your new network to guide you towards opportunities that fit your talents. Try and narrow it down to a specific industry – perhaps related to your interests or previous work – where you can add unique value.

Best of luck!

What are the differences between an average Product Manager and a great one?


It starts with perspective:

  • Average Product Managers focus on the product.
  • Great Product Managers focus on the customer.
  • They focus on the mission of the company – why are you all there, and what purpose are you collectively striving to achieve?
  • A good Product Manager will think about features.
  • A great Product Manager will think about the purpose those features serve in the life of the customer.

It continues with education:

  • Great Product Managers read vociferously.
  • They know that even if you have 10, 20 years of experience under your belt, there is always more to learn.

Finally, it’s about relationships:

  • Great Product Managers invest in the relationships they have with their colleagues, stakeholders, clients, and customers.
  • This means taking the time to listen. It means being willing to lose the argument. It means being willing not to claim credit for something for the sake of the bigger picture.
  • Great Product managers know that they won’t stay great unless they are always growing.

What are the skills required to be a successful entrepreneur?

The customer.

Fundamentally, the most talented, diligent and well equipped entrepreneur in the world will still fail if he / she is not creating something that people want.

When I started my education business five years ago, I knew I was creating something that there was a demand for.

We filled a niche.

At first, it was just me working in a small co-working space.

Now we have close to 50 employees around the world.

Sometime ago, I wrote down our company values on a piece of paper.

I stumbled upon that piece of paper today.

At the top, it said “students first.”

Our company has changed a lot, but that remains true.

Develop the skills you need to in order to understand who will be buying your product.

After all, without them, you may have a dream, but you won’t have a business.

How do you get into a Product Management role with no prior experience as a PM?

This is the classic catch 22 of the Product Management role: You need experience in order to get a good PM job, but in order to have the experience, you need a PM job…

The way to break out of this bind is simple: Side Projects. Side Projects allow you to demonstrate your potential as a Product Manager without the need for you to already be employed in a PM role.

The main goal of the side project is to show you can:

  • Take action
  • Put together a plan
  • Finish what you start

As I always say, if you want to prove you can build products, you have to start by building products. Of course, you may not have the budget to actually create a Minimum Viable Product that you could actually ship to market. But you can take the first steps, for example:

  • Create a blog and write about the market you’re trying to get in, making specific suggestions on how well-known products can improve
  • Use a tool like Balsamiq or InvisionApp to show a detailed concept/wire-frame of your product
  • Use an app like Proto.io to create a prototype of your idea

By taking action like this, you’re acting as if you were already a Product Manager. In doing so, you’re proving that you’re a person who could be hired to do a PM job – after all, you’re already doing it!

What do product managers do at tech companies such as Google, Facebook, and Quora?

As has been said, no two days are the same, but there are a lot of commonalities.

  • Why are we here? In the daily stress and hustle, a Product Manager has to fight to keep the focus on the vision for the Product, and how this relates to the mission of the company.
  • What are they really saying? You’ll need to juggle the needs of various teams and stakeholders, each of which will be concerned about different metrics, will speak in different jargon, and will have their own – often conflicting – demands. How do you go to the core of the issue?
  • Who are we here for? In addition to the vision/mission as described above, the PM is an advocate for the customer. Think of the end user, their needs/frustrations/pain points, and relate every decision you mak back through this lens.

Here’s a short video from David Breger, Product Manager at Facebook Messenger, on 9 lessons he learned as a PM at a top tech company.

As you can see, being a PM at a top tech company involves a lot of high level thinking, and a range of soft as well as hard skills. You can learn more about this at Product School.

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