How to become a Product Manager?

I am Business Analyst and would like to move into Product management!

I am a Project Manager (PM) and would like to transition into Product Management.

Is an MBA mandatory to transition into Product Management?

Do any of these questions sound familiar? I get to hear these questions from lot of aspiring PMs. So I decided to pen down my pointers based on my journey, and the lessons I learnt from my mentors.

Shadow or work with a PM

If you have an internal opportunity, spend time shadowing a Product Manager to understand their functions, tasks, approach to solve customer pain points. Participate in the meetings and observe the communication between various roles of PM, developer, designer, quality, marketing, sales, support etc. This will help you to discover the key skill sets needed for this function and identify day to day tasks involved. It will also get you acquainted with the challenges that a PM faces managing different stakeholders.

More helpful would be if you can grab a small module to develop for the product or do a project (market research/competitive research/usability study/analyzing support calls) while shadowing an experienced PM.

Re-create your favorite product

All of us use a variety of applications on the desktop, online or mobile for our work or personal use. There are many applications that have greatly influenced our daily lives with the convenience and efficiency they bring on. Pick an application that you like and would love to build such a product. Firstly, tear down the product to understand all the features the product offers to understand the problem it solves. Now re-create this product as if you are the PM

  • What will you do differently?
  • How would you define the UX?
  • What features will you prioritize and why?

Go through the product life cycle to build your version of the product

Case studies

One of the key skillsets a PM is assessed on during an interview,  is given a problem statement what is the solution approach he/she takes to solve the problem?  Choose some case studies that are posted in the interview job sites and attempt to solve them in a holistic way. Get these solutions/approaches reviewed from an experienced PM. Iterate on the solution approach by incorporating relevant feedback. Have a strong point of view while building the approach to the solution. Focus on opportunities that present decision-making and have relevant supporting points.

Build a product/something

Identify a problem statement for which you would like to build a product.

  • Find the market segment, customer persona, pain point

  • Customer behavior, how do they solve the problem today, what products and tools are available

  • Spend time to build customer empathy through various techniques

Once you have narrowed down on the problem, find out ways to solve it – could technology be an answer or a new operating model? Be as disruptive as you can be.

  • Build quick mock-ups, show it to users, gather feedback, iterate and improve

  • If you can or have resources, then build a light weight product (MVP) and ship it even if it is just handful of users. Nothing can beat the satisfaction of building something, launching and watch users use it.

In this entire exercise wherever you need to prioritize, pivot or make decision – always base it on data centric approach

Attend meet-ups

There is no one way of building a product, so just soak the knowledge and techniques you can learn from experts, peers and fellow PM in community meet-ups, conferences. It is a great way to build network and get inspired.

Read: online resources

Spend a good amount of time on reading varied topics of technology, domain, competition, best practices, PM blogs and articles. Some of the blogs that I refer to:

  • Mindtheproduct
  • Cohortplus
  • Silicon Valley Product Group
  • Ken Norton’s blog

Learning from books

Books are a great source of learning and constantly pushing ourselves to hone our skillsets. Here are some of the books to start with:

  • Inspired: How to create Products Customers love -Marty Cagan
  • Lean Start up by Eric Reis
  • Design of Everyday Things – Don Norman



Authored by Malathi SS, Societe Generale Global Solution Centre



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