Top Companies to Work for as a Product Manager in 2019

n26 team
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.

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 overall they tend to be very competitive wages.

Plus, there are certain things that should be taken into consideration. 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 roadtrip 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 fulfil 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 gut 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:

Amazon

The leading online retailer is actually more and more profiting from its SaaS portfolio through Amazon Web Services. Thus, Technical Product Manager profiles are increasingly in-demand. Learn about how technical you need to be, how much in contact you are with other teams and external partners, which opportunities you get to develop your own product vision and how is it to work remote within Amazon structures.

Google

Well, it is actually Alphabet we are referring to. The company is famous for its emphasis on employee advancement: they are encouraged to pursue their own projects. Of course, most of the parodies about Silicon Valley offices originated at the Google Campus: expect baristas, pool tables and the like to add a special flair to your open plan office. They run a very interesting Associate Product Manager Program which is building the next generation in tech leadership. For more details, check out how Google is letting PMs specialize in Machine Learning, encouraging them to develop global product visions, and teaching technical staff how to approach the problem-solver dilemma with Product Management.

HSBC

How is it to work for an established financial institution? HSBC, like other banks, is moving swiftly to the digital arena. Particularly on mobile, the company will encourage creative solution-providers for today’s financial problems. Product Managers here should expect international exposure, opportunities for increasing their financial acumen and a chance to grow in the profitable FinTech sector. Learn more about the career path to Product Management in banking, how these companies help you build awesome products and how they can make your product vision a reality.

PayPal

PayPal has evolved from being an eBay subsidiary to becoming one of the most important actors in the FinTech sphere. The company is well-known for being one of the launchpads for innovation leaders like Elon Musk. Thus, it offers a suitable playground for brave Product Managers who seek to increase their awareness and pursue further training. Our alumnus Jesus Cagide found his current position as PM there through Product School’s Product Management Certification. Over there, you will gain opportunities to strengthen your ecommerce acumen, employ data to its fullest extent, learn more about monetization strategies and conduct customer research.

Uber

Uber has already revolutionized the way we move around cities. While this B2C side of the business is well-known by everyone, and can be a very powerful incentive to join them; their pivot to B2B is where the real interest lies. The company is likely to reward those Product Managers who think creatively about transport solutions for corporations and public services. Joining this company you will likely become a full-spectrum PM, making you the essential candidate for any future job promotions. Check out how Uber product people are trained to succeed, how company structures are built to facilitate PMs to make an impact and what sort of individuals are rewarded at the company.

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Salesforce

Against what is commonly thought, Salesforce is not looking exclusively for proficiently technical PMs. On the contrary, the company is known for sponsoring careers and promoting people who might lack the necessary skills but show interest in progressing. The company really emphasizes that you make an efficient use of your time. However, this pressure has its own rewards: you will stay ahead of the wave, as the SaaS company has a lot of competitors and always tries to invest in creative product visions. Salesforce is looking to empower non-tech product people, but will also take care of tech-versed PMs who are seeking to reinforce their business skills.

Microsoft

The predecessor for many of the names listed here, Microsoft is still a great company to work for. Its roster of products has expanded enormously and no longer relies on its dominance of the personal computer market. As such, it offers many opportunities through its multiple businesses. It is also well-known for promoting diversity among the ranks. Learn how the company favors those with a culture of experimentation, seeks to nurture diverse backgrounds, provides tools for product people to plan projects effectively, and allows Product Managers to move between B2C and B2B teams to increase their acumen.

Adobe

The “A” company offers tools for every business sector. As such, it is always looking for creative product people who respect their legacy but are willing to take risks. They are particularly adamant in creating collectives through team-building activities and reward people who have an interest in upgrading their skills to the next level. Check out what a former PM had to say about them, and listen about the opportunities that Adobe gives you to become a user-centered Product Manager.

Slack

Whether at the office or with your group of friends you are making a podcast with, Slack is the ever-reliable social media tool for everyone and everything. While now widely recognized in the industry, they still very much behave like a startup. Thus, they have the common perks linked with this type of structure: ownership of your responsibilities, flexibility and the ability of working remote (after all, they provide some of the best remote tools in the industry!). Their first PM was responsible for setting up a lot of their current systems, for example. Something which is very important over there is growth: the company’s, and your own, of course! You will also learn a lot about mobile, something vital for the present of the industry.

Airbnb

The company began the year by acquiring HotelTonight and pivoting towards professional hospitality services. That said, their operations are well-known for encouraging Product Managers who have a special combination of marketing and customer skills. You will be expected to evolve as you progress through tasks and operations: this is a market-creating platform, after all. You cannot simply do what competitors are doing, you must remain two steps ahead! You will for sure make no mistakes if you seek a position at the company: they will cultivate your leadership skills and take your professionalism to the next level.

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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 learn 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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