According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, effective product managers have the opportunity to develop their careers into rewarding occupations. Prospective product managers may also anticipate demand for this occupation to grow at a faster-than-normal rate when compared with other kinds of jobs. All sorts of companies, from media to manufacturing, find this position critical for growth in a competitive business environment. Find out more about this challenging but rewarding multi-disciplinary role and how an MBA for product management can provide the perfect launching pad for high-quality job offers and career growth.
How an MBA Can Open Doors for Future Product Managers
Product management positions started in the 1930s when Procter & Gamble first envisioned the leadership roles that they nicknamed “brand men.” These leaders needed to take ownership of products from conception through development and onto sales and marketing. Since those early days, this position has transformed many businesses towards a product- and customer-centric focus. Because of this, product managers also often serve their organizations as the voice of customers.
Why Businesses Compete to Fill Product Management Jobs
Product management has grown so important that GlassDoor listed it as #5 on their Best Jobs in America report. To create this list, GlassDoor ranked positions by average salaries, job satisfaction, and employment opportunities. Perhaps one reason that corporations covet good prospects for product manager jobs so much these days is because the roles are not so easy to fill with qualified candidates. These positions generally require a combination of several disciplines, including design, business intelligence, strategy, marketing, and of course, excellent communication and leadership skills.
Sometimes, businesses think of a product manager as a product’s CEO because they’re responsible for everything related to their particular product. This can include everything from determining demand and uncovering a market audience to product and packaging design to scheduling releases to ensuring customer-focused results Thus, a product manager needs to know something about almost all aspects of their business and, also, be capable of collaborating with many different departments.
How an MBA Helps with Typical Roles in Product Management
To understand how an MBA can offer a gateway into effective product management, it’s important to look at roles that can make up a typical career path and, also, some examples of the ways product management MBA programs have served current product managers.
First, consider these typical product management roles:
- Associate product manager:This entry-level position gives new people a chance to learn the role and demonstrate their readiness to move up the ladder. Good skills include UI, data analysis, communication, and feature definition.
- Product manager:Good candidates for this mid-level role should demonstrate their ability to lead, strategize, and communicate with a variety of groups. For example, product managers may need to work with technical, marketing, and design departments and interface with and understand customers.
- Senior product manager:Managers in this senior position will help oversee more junior employees and communicate with executives. They will also have more say in setting overall strategies.
- Director, VP, and chief of product management:Large corporations may have a hierarchy that reaches up into the executive levels. At this point, these top-level managers focus more on leadership, coordination, and big-picture goals. Top leadership may also personally run very large initiatives.
Good product managers need to have a variety of skills to succeed at a role that requires coordination and communication with a variety of different departments, other business leaders, and customers. An MBA can help develop these skills because it introduces a student to various business subjects. While work experience or past education may expose employees to specific skills, the MBA helps develop the big-picture and an in-depth view that future leaders need.
Berkeley illustrated one example with Max Wesman. He serves as the vice president of product at GoodHire. He said that he took advanced classes in business that he believed would help him learn both advanced analytical skills and develop his ability to collaborate. Some examples of the topics of these classes included market development, organizational behavior, financial modeling, and negotiating.
He says that not only did this course of study help him gain entry into product management, it also currently helps him do his job better. Even today, he remembers his MBA experiences to help him manage people, make presentations, develop financial reports, and set strategies.
Does Everybody Need an MBA to be a Successful Product Manager?
Some people obtain product management positions after working in other departments for some time. Since managing products usually takes at least a working knowledge of several different business disciplines, they may enter the field from one of the related departments, like marketing, engineering, or even business intelligence. These product managers might gain helpful experience at work, and very often, businesses offer career training.
According to Product Manager HQ, successful product management requires good communication, empathy, prioritization, organization, and insight generation. Thus, they suggest assessing current strengths and weaknesses and working to fill in any gaps. Even though a new product manager might not need to master each one of these qualities, they should possess at least competency in each area and be able to demonstrate exceptional strengths in some of them.
The value of product management MBA programs is that they can help develop the required skills through exposure to case studies and frameworks and reviews of past experiences. Highly trained professors can give students the deeper perspective they have gained through their own education and work experience.
In addition, a high-quality MBA program also gives students a chance to build connections and network with other students, professors, alumni, and other school supporters. And as everybody in business will say, it’s not always what a prospective product manager knows—sometimes, it’s who he or she knows.
Finding Product Management MBA Programs
If you’re already a working professional or have just finished your first degree, a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from UTC can offer you the flexible options that you need to prepare for or advance in a product management career.
Affordable tuition, national accreditation, and a 100-percent online degree program or a flexible mix of online and in-person part-time or full-time graduate classes make UTC a good choice for anyone seeking an advanced business education. Contact us today to answer your questions.