What a Product Manager Actually Does by WeWork Senior PM

A Product Manager is the driver of a team, involved in both the technical and non-technical aspects of product development. There can be various PMs depending on the company’s needs and goals. In this talk Charles Huang, Senior Product Manager at WeWork, educates us on the role of a PM and the various kinds of PMs in the organization.

Meet Charles Huang

Charles Huang is a graduate from MIT, who is passionately involved in helping companies become data-driven. He is a Product Leader and teacher with years of experience in GDPR, ITGC, data infrastructure, big data, and machine learning.

Charles Huang WeWork

What Type of Product Manager Can You Be?

Charles begins the talk by taking us through his experience of Product Management in his own words;

“I started my career as a Google Administrative Business Partner after graduating in Management Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. My key role in Google was to assist in planning the roadmap and OKR planning while managing the external client events to gain appropriate customer reviews. Once out of Google, I joined Orchard Platform as a Product Manager, who helped the team align with the key specs and created successful KPIs.

“I later joined Mighty TV (which was acquired by Spotify) as a Product Manager and worked in the domains of data analytics, Machine Learning, Android and Legal & Social Media Marketing. I currently work as a Senior PM with WeWork, managing a team of two Product Managers.”

Through each of the experiences, he has developed his take on The Art of Product Management, which involves a lot of empathy, learning and people management, all while staying focused and responsible for the product and its features.

What does a typical Product Manager do?

The tasks of a regular Product Manager are generally thought to be:

  1. Managing stakeholders
  2. Prioritizing tasks
  3. Creating roadmaps
  4. Client Management
  5. Defining & aligning Objectives, etc.

The tasks of a PM can either be all of these things or none. Because each company prioritizes different things, there is no hard and fast rule for the role of a PM.

Is it necessary to be technical to be a PM?

While everything said and done, it is not necessary for a PM to be technically qualifiedHowever, it is very helpful if you are one. While the tech teams will do the actually building of the product, it’ll be more convenient for development if a PM is able to empathize and understand the challenges the engineers face. This is especially true when it comes to setting deadlines for the project, which the PM will usually be involved in.

Addressing the elephant in the room, once again, what does a typical product manager do?

  1. Identify customers and stakeholders
  2. Define product roadmap
  3. Determine KPIs and metrics for success
  4. Guarantee the success of the product

Different Types of Product Managers

The above picture defines the possibility of a type of PM, used by Charles in his talk.

It represents various characteristics like sensibility, patience, aggression, etc. Project Managers tend to use each of these traits to draw their responsibilities like decisiveness, prioritization, roadmapping, etc. Many companies run on different objectives and the core diagram that plots these traits in the above picture remains different for different companies.

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