Top Companies to Work for as a Product Manager in 2019

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N26 team pictured in 2017. Credit: EU Startups

What are the top companies to work for as a Product Manager in 2019? The truth is, Product Managers are really sought after. Their full-spectrum awareness of technical, commercial and design skills can catalyze change across many industries and types of company. The real challenge is to know which one to work for!

If you are a Product Manager, pay attention to the following criteria to help you make decisions between different vacancies. After that, check out our curated list of best companies to work for. Don’t worry, we have not just focused on the usual names: we saved a spot for interesting startups and smaller companies where your abilities as a PM would be greatly appreciated.

Do you agree with our selection?

How Should You Choose the Company to Work for as a PM?

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KA-CHING! Is money the first thing that comes to mind?

That is certainly a mistake. You should not limit yourself to monetary concerns when choosing your workplace. Once you surpass a certain threshold, the fact is that money is not enough anymore. Of course, you should never undervalue your skills: that would be stupid! Demand what you are worth, do not be shy. Product Manager salaries vary across locations (which is also related to living costs), but above all, they tend to be very competitive wages.

Plus, there are certain things that should be taken into consideration as if they were money. How long will your commute be, for example? The time you spend going to and coming back from work is very valuable: make sure that you consider it before you sign for a 4-hour road trip every weekday!

Once you have gauged the economic factors, these are the 7 concerns you should be looking at:

  • Responsibilities: Make sure that the job matches your current level of skills and management experience. In the tech business, many young profiles are actually more robust than older ones. This is because things move fast in Silicon Valley, so less than a year at a leading digital company can make the difference. Make sure that you are not pigeonholed in an entry-level position when you have actually spent two years dealing with high-level tasks. Equally, it would be a mistake to accept an offer in Product Management that includes functions you are not acquainted with yet. Coding or people management are some skills that PMs with certain backgrounds need time to develop.
  • Professionalism: On the outside, most companies today have shiny websites and smooth communication strategies. However, this seriousness might not be reflected in day-to-day operations. Overwork, late payments, lack of appropriate equipment… These are some of the unexpected surprises awaiting you if you miss the details. Once you have your in-person interview, look around the office. Notice the seating arrangements, ask about the facilities, check out the equipment people are using… Does it look appealing? Or outdated? This type of research can also be conducted online, on message boards where current and former employees discuss company conditions. The point is to ensure that you are joining a fully professional operation.
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  • Equipment: This is related to the previous one. In principle, you should expect everything to be in order. To survive in the tech world, you need to have appropriate equipment: this is not just hardware, but also software. Whatever you are doing, it is likely you will rely on a dozen of tools to get your tasks done. It might be difficult to find out about this during an interview. There are some clues that can help you out. Review the job ad and identify the key names which refer to desired skills and experiences. Then, during the interview, refer back to these names and inquire more about how they are employed in your daily work.
  • Growth: Yes, as a Product Manager you are the one supposed to be bringing growth to overall operations. However, think of your own “operations”! Your career is important and any company worth its salt should be able to offer opportunities to advance for employees who fulfill their duties. Do they have a clear pathway for new hires to progress through the ranks? Or is their command tree slightly chaotic, like an improvised puzzle? You want to spend time in companies which are as open as possible about their promotion mechanisms. Plus, look for instruments like networking dinners, mentors and other mechanisms that could facilitate your professional development.
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  • Goodies: As satirized as it might have been on films and TV, the fact that you have a video-game console or a pool table in your office does make a difference. The more coherent these goodies are, the better. For example, it makes sense that if you work for a delivery company, you should get free deliveries or at least bonuses of some sort. There are minimum bonuses that almost everyone is ready to look for: early evenings on Fridays, the possibility of working remote once in a while, company-sponsored activities… These are simply expected traditions in most companies. However, sometimes tech firms have to go the extra mile to attract personnel in such a competitive environment. Think private performances, tickets for sports events and other special gifts to reward good performances. Keep an eye on these goodies!
  • Personality: Hey, some things you cannot help! Often, it is how we feel what defines what we pick professionally. Whether it is the company’s stance on certain issues, the way they market their products or even the colors in its logo; the fact is, sometimes your guts will tell you to stay away. Or the opposite. Working for a company you have cherished for a long time could be so good in itself that you could be willing to overlook other aspects; including money. This can also apply to your relationship with recruiters or interviewers. If they make you feel at home, you will, of course, be more willing to accept whatever offer is on the table.
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  • Innovation: This whole business is based on disruption; whether you like it, or not. In Silicon Valley and beyond, it is difficult to maintain supremacy for long. It is just a fact that systems, tools, processes, consumer taste… will evolve over time. At the same time, you are likely to experience these transformations several times throughout your career. Your professional life could be at risk if you pick a company where the old ways of doing things are never challenged. Your team and tools should parallel the industry’s advancement. As a PM, you are supposed to have some sense of where business is going. It should be simple to know when something looks like a sure bet. In any case, keep in mind that the position should offer an opportunity to reinvent yourself.
  • Training: In connection to this, the company must offer some way to bring your skills to the next level. There are two main ways they can do this. First, internally, with rotational programs and other methods aiming to spread knowledge among and between teams. This can happen informally (by you or your colleagues’ initiatives) or be formally encouraged by the firm. Next, the other way is to fund training on particular subjects and bringing in external professionals. This is often the best way to quickly and efficiently upgrade team skills, as there are plenty of educational institutions ready to design tailor-made courses for any situation.

Established Tech Companies

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Our list is based on feedback from our wide network of alumni and partners. Explore the external links to find out more about what is best about each company:

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Startups and Smaller Companies

While specifics are a little bit harder to find, these very interesting and growing companies will set you on the right track as an aspiring and established Product Manager. Follow the links to know more:

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Where You Should NOT Work as a Product Manager

As you can see, by following and reflecting on our criteria it can be a little bit easier to pick the perfect product job. What about the obvious red flags? It is not so easy to know where you should not work as a Product Manager. Teams, companies, and even sectors can change all of a sudden. This can be due to corporate scandals, obsolescence and other factors. Your future could slip through your fingers without noticing.

What is clear is that you are responsible for your own well-being. Product Managers are solid enough to merit reasonable working conditions. You should be treated as you deserve. One good way to work towards this goal is to remain attached to your own development. Becoming proficient in coding, for example, or taking an interest in design, could help signal your interest for being a better professional. If you are in a positive environment, your company should reward you. If you are not, then you will have more skills to seek greener pastures elsewhere.

All in all, you cannot go wrong if you keep moving!

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