How do I get into Product Management?

Last month, our Head of Product Practice, Heidi Ram, addressed a question that our team hears almost daily… how can I break into the product management space?

While the journey can differ for everyone, many leaders jumped in to comment on this post and shared their guidance and practical tips. One of these leaders was Gerard Doyle, VP of Product at Pelmorex (The Weather Network). 

As a VP of Product with over 23 years of career experience and 12 years in the PM space, he has seen Canada’s product community grow from the ground up, and has mentored many along the way. Here are his top six tips for those looking to break into the product space.  

These are all tangible things candidates can do to help them land their first PM job. These tips assume these hopefuls already work in an organization that has a dedicated Product Management function. So without further ado, here are Gerard’s top tips: 


1. Know your space

Understand your product's market, competitive set, business model, unique value, KPIs, and trends affecting that industry.

2. Learn about basic product mechanics

Roadmapping, user stories, different software development methods (scrum, kanban, etc.) Build the basic knowledge and jargon those in product use day-in-day-out.

3. Learn your strengths and weaknesses

As an inspiring future product leader, continuous growth and self-understanding are essential. Actively understand which skills you are good at, and which you need to develop and invest time in.

4. Be curious and think

How would you prioritize features? What would you build? Why those things? Be curious within your company - if you don't understand, ask. If you have ideas, share them.

5. Communicate

Those in product communicate with a wide range of people (engineers, sales folks, executives), so hone those skills now. Learn how to:

  • say no without alienating people

  • how to present an idea

  • effectively facilitate a discussion

  • mine ideas from an organization's inside (and outside)

  • and most importantly, how to translate complex ideas to different audiences

6. Raise your hand

Make it known within your organization that you are interested in product and take initiative to learn more. Make an action plan (courses, shadowing someone in the organization, etc.) and share this with your organization. The easiest way to move into product management for the first time is to do it within the same organization you’re currently working in.

The jump to a product management role will always be a leap, but taking the time to learn these fundamentals and following these 6 tips should provide a solid path forward. 

Landed a PM interview? Here is what the top leaders ask and how to best prepare to nail that interview.