Earlier, the majority of companies were primarily driven by focusing on processes and achieving sales metrics.
But now times have changed. Companies are evolving to be more customer-oriented and shifted their focus to their product rather than being just sales driven. With the increase in product-led companies, the product management field has seen tremendous growth and has become one of the most sought-after careers.
If you’re thinking to become a product manager in India, you’ve come to the right place. This step by step guide will cover all essentials about building a career in product management even if you have ZERO experience.
Here's how we have structured this guide:
- Who is a Product Manager?
- Why you should become a product manager?
- Qualifications required to become a product manager
- How to become a product manager?
- How to Land Your First Product Manager Job
- What is the career path of a product manager?
- What Is the Salary of a Product Manager?
- Top-paying companies for product managers
Without further ado, let's dive in!
1. Who is a Product Manager?
The primary role of the product manager is to identify and solve the most important customer problems that would positively impact the business.
It is the responsibility of the product manager to communicate the product vision to the team members and drive them towards a common goal.
The product manager needs to ensure the product being built solves the right customer problems aligned with the company mission.
While the customer might be having a lot of problems, your business might not be benefitted from solving all of them. Thus the key role of the product manager is to identify the right set of customer problems and collect data to validate the problem statements.
The data can be both qualitative such as customer interviews, feedback, and surveys and quantitative such as metrics, and data reports. The problem needs to be prioritized based on the business impact and constraints including a budget, and team efforts.
It is also the responsibility of the product manager to build consensus about the problem statements among all the stakeholders and work with design, engineering, and QA teams to launch the product within the timelines.
The product manager roles and responsibilities does not end at this point, once the product is launched the relevant metrics needs to be monitored. Based on the metrics, it is important to evaluate if the problem has been solved and has the estimated impact.
2. Why you should become a product manager?
Product management is one of the most sought-after careers in recent times with interest from early-stage professionals to late-stage professionals transitioning from different roles.
Though the role looks attractive it is often consuming, you must evaluate your profile and the role to figure out if this role is a right fit.
Product management might be a right fit for you if you like to impact the business through products, can communicate the shared vision and align team, solve customer problems and remove roadblocks for teams and like indulging in making decisions with insufficient data and uncertainty.
3. Qualifications required to become a product manager
There are certain core competencies that every PM must have but it is no longer a mandate to have an engineering degree or business education to become a product manager.
With an increase in digital products and product-led growth culture, there is an increase in product management professionals from diverse backgrounds.
As a product manager, it is very important to have a good understanding of the business, the product and the customers.
There are certain Product manager qualification that every aspiring product manager must possess irrespective of their education and professional background that might help them to excel in their role.
The product manager role involves interacting with multiple stakeholders and listening to their requirements. Amidst all the chaos the product manager is expected to bring in order and connect smaller things to the big picture through structured thinking.
Any product exists to solve a business problem, thus the product manager needs to understand their line of business and the company's mission. The product manager needs to understand how each aspect of the product feature ties back to the overall business goal and the company mission. This helps the product manager to prioritize the customer problems which have a higher business impact.
As a product manager, it is important to develop your product sense as you might be the one taking the final call on how your product works. Developing a good product sense helps you to make better decisions on which product changes/features might have the most impact.
Apart from understanding the business and product, the product manager needs to have a good understanding of their customer's needs, motivations and pain points. The product manager should talk with their customers regularly to gain insights and to ensure the product is being built for the right audience.
This is one of the common traits required for all product managers across industries and levels. As a product manager, it is their responsibility to communicate the product vision to all stakeholders, ensure everyone has a clear understanding of the goal and drive them towards a common mission.
Although the product manager need not be from a technical background, it is important to have a good understanding of how things work in the technical world. Having an understanding of SQL, APIs, basics of web development, and prototyping helps the product manager to communicate efficiently with engineers and designers.
4. How to become a product manager?
Product managers come from a diverse set of backgrounds including marketing, business, design, engineering and so on. Thus there is no standard path to becoming a product manager.
Though professionals from diverse backgrounds switch to product management, many of them might be having a common set of skills we had discussed in the earlier section.
Understand the PM role
The product manager role is diverse by nature and each company might have its responsibilities defined for the role. As an aspiring product manager, it is necessary to understand this diverse nature and get comfortable wearing multiple hats as needed for the role.
Read books, and blogs, attend meetups and listen to podcasts to develop a deeper understanding of the product manager role.
The roles and responsibilities of a PM vary widely based on different factors like the stage of the company(early stage, growth stage), domain(Fintech, Edtech, Consumer), size(startup, enterprise), and business model(B2B vs B2C).
It is important to understand the difference between the different PM roles to figure out the most suitable one based on your background and skill set.
Develop Product Management Skills
Product managers operate at the intersection of different fields includinng the likes of engineering, marketing, sales, finance and design.
The hard skills (SQL, API or prototyping with a design tool) required for a product manager might vary based on the role whereas the soft skills required are almost similar across different roles.
Irrespective of the role, the product manager needs to learn the product management process including devising product strategy, developing a roadmap, managing product backlog, execution as per timelines and post-launch product analytics. Apart from your research and self-learning, a product management course will help you with structured learning to acquire the required skillset with support from experts in the field.
You can explore more about the product management courses here:
There are also product management boot camps like Upraised, pm school, and next leap that offers intense training sessions designed to prepare professionals with more hands-on training and live doubt-clearing sessions with industry experts.
Understand the business and domain
Product management is about creating products to solve a specific customer/business problem in a domain. Apart from understanding the product use case, read about the underlying business and product domain.
Read about how the products contribute to business growth and move levers to increase revenue/profits or reduce costs.
The product manager role leans heavily on transferable skills that you can pick up from your prior experiences, thus you need to understand the business/domain to figure out how you can leverage your existing experiences.
Build side project to hone product skills
Product management is a heavy hands-on role, apart from learning theoretical concepts building a side project will help you to get familiarised with the entire product life cycle.
It is not necessary to complete an entire product, building side projects help you gain hands-on experiences in various individual aspects of product management like writing PRD, wireframing prototypes, and figuring out tracking metrics.
This will help you to brainstorm ideas, think in a structured manner and also to develop hard skills like prototyping.
Create a product portfolio
Building a product portfolio will help you to hone your product management skills and also showcase your work to the potential employer.
Since product managers are from diverse backgrounds your product portfolio need not be a standard template. The portfolio can include anything that highlights your product management skills like UX Design mockups, PRD, product case studies or product teardowns.
It is not mandated to include everything in the portfolio but make sure you highlight your strengths and present them in a legible way such that it communicates what problem you are solving, how you come up with the solution and your contributions if it's a group effort.
Irrespective of whether you are an early-stage professional or experienced, it is required to do a lot of preparations for the product manager interview. Most the product manager interviews test for your structured thinking process and product sense.
Product sense can only be developed over time with continuous practice doing product case studies, teardowns and keen observations on how products are designed.
The structured thinking processes can be improved through constant problem solving and rigour mock interviews. Try to network with like-minded folks who are on the same journey are yours and practice doing a lot of product case studies and mock interviews.
You can explore some of the common product interview questions here:
5. How to Land Your First Product Manager Job
For Fresh Graduates
APM/Internships : If you are a fresh graduate or early-stage professional look out for Associate Product Manager (APM)/Product intern roles in startups or mid-size companies. Starting as APM under a product leader will speed up your learning in a structured way and help you to eventually become a product manager.
Most of the APM role involves doing varierty of activities across technology, marketing, and operations and help the professional to gain an overall perspective of the field.
For Experienced Professionals
Internal job opportunities: The easiest way for experienced professionals to get their first product manager role is to look out for opportunities within the organization.
Take lead and volunteer to solve problems in your team/adjacent teams using your product skills. Apply for internal product manager role openings, highlight your experience in identifying and solving problems, communicating with cross-functional teams and taking ownership of the project.
This will help you transit smoothly into product management as you’ve already proven yourself in the company and are familiar with the product.
Apply for PM roles with a portfolio: It might be difficult for experienced professionals to transit into a PM role outside their organization as they might be caught in the catch-22 scenarios, most of the product manager roles in the market might need prior experience but you will not gain experience unless you get into the role.
For experienced professionals looking to transit into a PM role outside their organization, the best option is to apply for PM roles in startups with your product portfolio or side project. Make sure your portfolio describes how you can leverage the existing experience for the product role and your problem-solving capabilities.
Networking is important as it can open the door to new opportunities and mentorships. Attend product meetups, and join communities. network with founders/product folks in startups and reach out to them with your portfolio for product role opportunities.
6. What is the career path of a product manager?
The product management job roles and titles differ based on the company size, compensation structure and various other factors. However, there are also a lot of similarities in the product titles across the organization, below is a list of the common product management titles:
- Associate Product Manager
- Product Manager
- Senior Product Manager
- Group Product Manager
- Director, Product Management
- Sr. Director, Product Management
- VP, Product Management
- Chief Product Officer
At the entry level, APMs will be involved in research, and requirements gathering with guidance and support from Product managers.
As you grow into the role, the professionals operate more independently and the scope of the product work increases. As a Product Manager, the professional might be responsible to oversee a section of the product whereas more senior roles might involve an entire product life cycle, maintaining overall product suites and so on.
7. What Is the Salary of a Product Manager?
The compensation for the product manager role varies based on the experience level and the organization. Apart from this, there are other factors such as relevant prior experience, educational qualification and skillsets.
The Associate Product Manager salary ranges from Rs.4L - Rs.25L with an average pay of Rs. 12.5L and the Product Manager's salary ranges from Rs.8L - Rs.51L.
The average Product Manager salary also varies based on cities.
- The average salary for a Product Manager in Mumbai is around Rs.14L
- The average salary for a Product Manager in Bangalore is around Rs.20L
- The average salary for a Product Manager in Chennai is around Rs.14L
- The average salary for a Product Manager in Hyderabad is around Rs.17L
Sources: Naukri, Glassdoor, Payscale
8. Top-paying companies for Product Managers
There are certain organizations which are product driven, provide good compensation and are best companies for product managers to thrive in their career.
Below are some of the highest paying product companies with product centric culture.
Source: The Product Folks Salary Report.
The product manager is a multi-disciplinary role and it is no longer mandated to have a technical background or business education to have a product management career. Before making the transit make sure you have a clear understanding of why you want to get into the product role.
Research and read about the product management space, understand how you can leverage your existing skillset to become product manager in India. Building a side project and creating a product portfolio will help you to land a product opportunity.
Product Management is an ever-evolving field, joining an active Product community like The Product Folks, and Hellomeets Product group will help you to continue learning and stay updated about the happenings in the field.