I have a great guest, Rebecca Kalogeris, to help us understand the pulse of product management. We discussed a number of factors, such as what department product management reports to in companies and what product managers say the future holds for the profession of product management, but I was most interested to learn the 4 skills that are correlated with product managers getting paid 25% more.
Rebecca is the Vice President of Marketing for Pragmatic Marketing. Prior to joining Pragmatic Marketing, Rebecca managed product management and marketing teams at a variety of software companies. I invited Rebecca to discuss the findings from Pragmatic Marketing’s 16th Annual Product Management and Marketing Survey.
Practices and Ideas for Product Managers and Innovators
Summary of questions discussed:
- What is the purpose of the Product Management and Marketing Survey? We run the survey every year to learn what’s changing, what’s staying the same, and where the problems are. The survey data gives us insights to the people we serve.
- What’s the story behind this year’s theme – comic book super heroes? When you’re creating products, really great products that delight and sell, it’s a herculean effort. Behind that effort in most companies are the product teams, but they’re often the unsung heroes. A lot of our own family and friends don’t really understand what we do. That hero image and their secret identity, that combination of things match up with what product management and product marketing people do and who they are – superheroes.
- What do you know about the people who participated in the survey? We had 2549 people respond to the survey. They were from 57 countries and 45 states. Most have 10+ years of experience. 35% had been product owners before becoming a product manager while 21% joined product management from a sales role. 42% have a graduate degree and 71% hold at least one professional certification.
- Where are they spending most of their time – on what tasks? About 75% of their time is on tactical tasks, which includes putting out fires. 20% of their time is supporting Sales – answering questions and conducting product demonstrations. Only 5 hours/month is spent interviewing customers. We also learned that less than 20% of respondents are doing win/loss analysis. With 75% of their time on tactical activities, 25% is spent on strategic activities – creating business plans, conducting market research identifying potential future partners, and the like. We asked how they would like to spend their time and they want a 50/50 split between strategic and tactical activities.
- I saw a number of so-called soft skills in the findings, such as consensus building, empathy, and inspiring others. Which are most valued? We identified 7 skills that together we call the it factor. That’s when you know a person is going to go somewhere because they’ve got it. Four skills stand out in an important way – they were correlated with a 25% increase in earnings and those who had them were twice as likely to be an executive. The four skills are:
- Pitch artist – the ability to present and sell your ideas and conclusions.
- Exec debater — being the president of the product and standing up for what is needed and challenging executive teams.
- Inspire others — great products are built by great teams but these aren’t necessarily teams that product managers personally manage. Instead, product managers need to inspire them and share the vision of the product.
- Truth to power – being good at raising inconvenient truths and not running away from an unpopular message.
- What did the participants say the future of product management looks like? Businesses need to be agile and the use of Agile methodologies is not just for development. More specialization of the role is expected just like project management has seen specialization. Also, the growing use of Big Data will have a significant impact.
- Where there any findings that standout compared to previous surveys – any shifts in thinking? An important one is the ratio of product managers to developers. We have seen that number drop from 13:1 to 5:1. Also, there are new roles every year, with the addition of product owners and UX. Another change is in the number of products a product manager is responsible for at any given time increasing from 2 to 10.
- 2016 Annual Product Management and Marketing Survey
- Pragmatic Marketing. where Rebecca is VP Marketing
- Rebecca’s LinkedIn profile
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t—you’re right.” -Henry Ford
Listen Now to the Interview
Thank you for being an Everyday Innovator and learning with me from the successes and failures of product innovators, managers, and developers. If you enjoyed the discussion, help out a fellow product manager by sharing it using the social media buttons you see below.