Product Manager Skills You Need To Know – Built In

Successful product managers need more than technical expertise and impressive communication skills (though both help). They require a “jack-of-all-trades” mentality, a collaborative nature and a passion for the company’s product and mission.

We talked to 19 product leaders who took the time to define what they look for in a successful PMs.  From character traits like empathy and curiosity to technical skills like front-end coding and data mining, the competencies required to level-up this role are as diverse as they are interconnected.

REX Real Estate

REX Real Estate

What are the top three traits a person needs to be a good PM?

A prerequisite to being a good product manager is being a good project manager. You must be organized, attentive to detail, a good communicator and able to tie outcomes back to general business objectives. All of that falls under project management prowess. The ability to navigate project management is necessary but ultimately insufficient for product management success. 

“A prerequisite to being a good product manager is being a good project manager.’’ 

In addition, a great consumer PM is empathetic and creative. They need to truly understand what motivates a customer. And more challengingly, they need to be able to layer on business needs and constraints to generate a vision for the product from that consumer insight.   

From a technical perspective, what skills have you found to be most important in your role, and what steps do you take to continue developing those skills?

Product managers without engineering experience can shy away from asking questions about technical details. Getting over that hesitancy was the best thing I’ve done for my technical knowledge. Asking questions is the fastest way to start understanding things. It also ends up being a good sanity check for engineering. 

“Asking questions is the fastest way to start understanding things.’’ 

Beyond that, an understanding of how data is structured and collected has been essential to accurately interpreting tests and metrics. I took some Codecademy SQL courses to get an elementary skillset. I ask analysts to walk me through the company-specific elements of any new dataset I’m using. 

MineraTtree

MineralTree

MineralTree builds accounts payable and invoice automation software for mid-market businesses. Product Manager Jose Garcia said empathy and grit are necessary for anticipating the needs of users. 

 

What are the top three traits a person needs to be a good PM?

The most important trait, and often the most challenging one for PMs, is empathy.

Empathy is a critical trait because it helps uncover the root problem your users face and becomes an effective tool in determining a solution. Empathy shouldn’t stop with your users. It’s important to be mindful of your stakeholders too.

At its core, product management is a job of grit. This means being able to deal with pressure well. Product managers are commonly at the center of the organization, so when problems arise, you have to roll up your sleeves, persevere through the unknown and act to find solutions to sometimes difficult problems.

In order for organizations to grow past infancy, you must be more critical about what you will and won’t do. You should consider your strategic direction and what data you have to support new features.

 

“At its core, product management is a job of grit.

 

From a technical perspective, what skills have you found to be most important in your role, and what steps do you take to continue developing those skills?

Critical thinking and detailed business analysis coupled with broad technical understanding are vital skills contributing to the success of any PM.  Product managers not only need to fully understand the market they serve and anticipate the needs of their end users, but must also be able to partner with engineering to ensure that collectively they are delivering true business value.  

Zaius

Zaius

Zaius engages with customers across email, web and social to collect and connect data. With that information, Zaius creates a personalized roadmap to drive growth for marketers. Vice President of Product Greg Cypes explained how people skills like listening and patience are essential when working across different teams.

What are the top three traits a person needs to be a good PM?

A good PM inspires through a shared vision of product.  Most product managers do not manage people, but they do manage a product. Many of the traits of a great leader are needed by product managers as well.

Another important trait is to be a great listener. Product managers interact with customers, engineering, sales, customer service and marketing on a daily basis. They share ideas, problems and opportunities. Having an empathetic ear helps reinforce your leadership skills.

Lastly, be cool under pressure. When times get rough, deadlines are approaching and user adoption isn’t hitting projections, product managers need to keep calm, develop plans and instill confidence in the team.

“Many of the traits of a great leader are needed by product managers as well.

From a technical perspective, what skills have you found to be most important in your role, and what steps do you take to continue developing those skills?

Know how to learn and teach yourself new things. It makes a huge difference in being open to new ideas. Very few people start their careers in product management; they typically gravitate to it after working in marketing, engineering or customer success. Being able to learn on your own becomes very handy for someone making that transition.

edX

By offering online courses from over 140 colleges and universities, edX aims to provide high-quality educational courses to everyone, everywhere. But sometimes the best learning happens outside the classroom. Senior Product Manager Shelby Quinn told us how a PM with a diverse background and lived experience is more open to solving business goals in new ways.

What are the top three traits a person needs to be a good PM?

Stellar product managers have all sorts of different backgrounds, abilities and lived experiences. The best PMs are customer-centric, awesome at building relationships and most importantly, decisive. You’re responsible for ensuring that real problems are being solved in a way that aligns with the business’ goals and values without being married to a specific solution or a narrow framework. 

You need to both collaborate with and represent key stakeholders within the company, ensuring that all perspectives are taken into account. Once you’ve gathered the ideas and data from your stakeholders you have to quickly synthesize it in order to decide on the best path forward. 

“The best PMs are customer-centric, awesome at building relationships and most importantly, decisive.

From a technical perspective, what skills have you found to be most important in your role, and what steps do you take to continue developing those skills?

Though a technical or engineering background is not a requirement, it is crucial to understand the technical implications, challenges and opportunities of the underlying platforms you are working with. While I definitely recommend taking foundational classes to build up your knowledge of software engineering and data analysis, what’s more important is building strong relationships with your engineering teammates.

Ask someone to sketch out the platform architecture and ask their opinion of what the strengths and weaknesses are. Be willing to learn about the challenges, opportunities and tradeoffs of different technical approaches when you are collaborating on a new initiative.

Profitwell

Profitwell

Profitwell offers subscription companies business solutions that optimize monetization and customer retention. To bring these business solutions to market, Product Manager Neel Desai said that empathy is essential when serving as a liaison across departments.

What are the top three traits a person needs to be a good PM?

At ProfitWell, Product Managers are responsible for successfully defining the problems that need to be solved and ensuring the team has what they need to deliver on the solutions. PMs have ownership over the ProfitWell Metrics, Retain and Recognized products, which help subscription companies with the hardest part of growth. This translates into improving existing products, as well as building entirely new ones. 

PMs need to have a high degree of empathy to deeply understand customer pain points. They need to be able to work cross-functionality and communicate at a high level, especially when serving as a liaison between the customer, design and engineering. Lastly, PMs need to be analytical in order to track and measure the results of their work.

“PMs need to have a high degree of empathy to deeply understand customer pain points.

From a technical perspective, what skills have you found to be most important in your role, and what steps do you take to continue developing those skills?

Depending on the product they’re working on,  PMs don’t need to have technical backgrounds or have studied computer science to join the team. We are much more interested in learning how you think and work. Having said that, to succeed and thrive in a PM role, a solid understanding of the product development process and a foundation in data analysis (Excel, SQL, etc.) is critical. Learning from engineers and designers first hand, combined with a drive for self development and learning, will accelerate this learning curve.

 

Vibes

Vibes

We’re on our phones so much that we literally walk into poles and second-screen (a term used to describe how people scan Twitter and Instagram or text while simultaneously watching a film or show). It’s advantageous to many businesses to be within the confines of those handheld devices, which Vibes provides. They help clients keep their customers “in the know” with mobile-first campaigns, enrollment and outreach. 

Senior Product Manager Laura Puckett told us how she relies on her previous technical experience to make their products as beneficial as possible. 

What are the top three traits a person needs to be a good PM?

Product managers should always be curious about what’s going on in the market, what’s impacting their customers and where the product could be going next. PMs live simultaneously in the present and the future. 

PMs need to collaborate with their teams, stakeholders and customers. They need to understand their problems and bring everyone to the table to work together to figure out a solution. PMs collaborate to identify the best ideas, develop them into even better ideas and then turn them into products. 

Great PMs are closers. If you can’t get it built, launched or sold, a brilliant idea doesn’t matter. Identify what the product needs to be successful, whether that’s a sales deck, demonstration video or technical documentation. 

“To deliver the best possible product, you need to understand the risk and scope from a technical perspective.’’ 

From a technical perspective, what skills have you found to be most important in your role, and what steps do you take to continue developing those skills?

I started out as a developer for six years, so I came from a technical role. I have used that experience and those skills extensively in my time as a PM. To deliver the best possible product, you need to understand the risk and scope from a technical perspective. So I make sure to pay attention to my engineering counterparts because the technical world changes every five minutes. My best products have been a result of brainstorming and effort from both the engineering and product teams. 

Topstep Trader

Topstep Trader

Preya Patel utilizes the resources at her disposal to consistently improve as a product manager. Those resources include her teammates, reliable online content and events in her community. 

She works at TopstepTrader, a platform where aspiring traders can learn to manage risk and ultimately successfully trade capital. Below, she told us how she’s evolved based on those efforts and what she recommends to others in the field. 

What are the top three traits a person needs to be a good PM?

A good PM needs to be a strong problem solver and be able to balance business and user needs, while maintaining a healthy dose of empathy. Most often, people fall in love with ideas. But I like to take a step back and diagnose the problem. I do this by listening to our customers and trying to understand their core needs. And because PMs travel across the organization, it’s important to exude the same empathy internally. You need to actively listen past the surface to all perspectives in the process, so that you can use your problem solving and resource-juggling skills to arrive at a mutually beneficial solution. 

“Most often, people fall in love with ideas. But I like to take a step back and diagnose the problem.’’

From a technical perspective, what skills have you found to be most important in your role, and what steps do you take to continue developing those skills?

I stay up on various testing methods and data analysis to help me make more informed product decisions. I spend at least 30 minutes of each day on Harvard Business Review, Medium and the Women in Product Facebook group, consuming case studies and learning from others. I am also active in the community and try to attend one or two events each month. In terms of “hard” technical skills, I read and listen to enough content to converse with developers and translate to stakeholders. But I rely on our strong technology team for their expertise and guidance.

CCC

CCC

Following a car accident, thinking straight is not on the shortlist of things most people are doing. Planning ahead is pretty much out of the question. That’s where Senior Director of Program Management Cynthia Pryor comes in. She works at CCC to ensure that the company provides their users with the most useful and helpful insurance products possible during a time when support is key. 

What are the top three traits a person needs to be a good PM?

Open and direct communication with clear insights into objectives, commitments and risks is key to instilling confidence, managing expectations and maintaining alignment among the team and executives. A good PM should define technical and business problems and deliver difficult messages as well as timely fact-based data. This allows sponsors and stakeholders to make better business decisions.

Collaboration is necessary in an environment where teams are expected to deliver more, faster. PMs should be able to facilitate collaboration among teams and individuals with diverse personalities, competing priorities and pressures. It’s important to get past points of contention to ensure continual progression toward strategic goals. 

The foundation of a successful program and project manager is the ability to understand the company’s vision and objectives. PMs must define a plan to deliver on business outcomes despite unknowns and uncertainties. They should also be able to anticipate potential risks, conflicts and business impacts and quickly adapt and adjust.  

“PMs must define a plan to deliver on business outcomes despite unknowns and uncertainties.’’

From a technical perspective, what skills have you found to be most important in your role, and what steps do you take to continue developing those skills?

In addition to the above, understanding the business and technical strategies of the company is important in my role. I need the ability to influence internal and external stakeholders and build consensus. I continually develop by reading books and articles, taking classes and webinars and attending events and conferences. In addition, I learn and develop professionally by applying these skills to new and existing initiatives.

 

GoSpotCheck

GoSpotCheck

Just as GoSpotCheck‘s technology helps coordinate a mobile workforce, its Executive VP of Product and Engineering Laura Sellers coordinates among a myriad of stakeholders. According to Sellers, the day-in, day-out work of a product manager means listening to the (occasionally competing) needs of engineers, customer success, sales and users. 

What are the top three traits a person needs to be a good PM?

The first trait is exemplary communication. Many new product managers believe the job is about having a vision and figuring out how to execute it. In reality, it is about the ability to understand requirements from within your organization and from customers. It is critical that a product manager is able to effectively communicate the trade-offs they are making with key stakeholders and keep them informed on the progress of the product roadmap. 

The second trait is empathy. It’s important that product managers are empathetic to both customers and co-workers. A product being built has an impact on everyone in the company. Therefore, the product manager must be empathetic to the hurdles faced by salespeople, customer operations and engineers. They need to help lead the engineering team with empathy for the users so they are building products and features users love.

The final trait is strategic thinking, which is often learned over time. Great product managers make products that are built to last and create long-term value for their customers; they don’t just add the latest feature request. It’s also important that product managers clearly understand the users that the product is serving. 

“It’s critical that product managers are making decisions based on data.”

What technical skills are most important in your role and how do you continue developing those, or other, skills?

It’s critical that product managers are making decisions based on data and not just instincts. Along with that, product managers need to be decisive in their decisions. Sometimes there isn’t enough workable data and the product manager needs to make a call and be willing to fail fast if necessary.

It’s important to have a core understanding of product complexity from a code perspective. Product managers that don’t have a technical background should be willing to learn about the architecture of a product and new trends in technology. There are also great training programs for product management and numerous PM podcasts and blogs available to help refine skills.

AdAction Interactive

AdAction Interactive

When you’re a product manager at a company that builds mobile marketing solutions for Fortune 100 companies, there can be a lot of pressure to address every piece of feedback.

Meghan Quirk said this is the norm in her role as a product manager at AdAction Interactive, so prioritization is key. Quirk said product managers have to be able to hone in on what’s most important for products in development to make it over the finish line.  

What are the top three traits a person needs to be a good PM?

Being empathetic is invaluable to a product manager’s success. Understanding the emotions, motivations and goals of others is useful in many aspects, from deciding what to solve for and build, to selling ideas and features to various people or teams. 

Curiosity is essential because it drives the data collection processes that are necessary for PMs to build successful products. Relentlessly probing for more details and data points enables a PM to understand problems and constraints, then effectively strategize and formulate a solution. 

Being focused is also fundamental to a PM’s success because we are constantly getting new information, requests and feedback that need assessment, filtering and prioritization. Prioritization becomes easier when you can stay focused on the challenges you’re solving. 

“The most important technical skills for my role have been learning SQL and data analysis.”

What technical skills are most important in your role and how do you continue developing those, or other, skills?

The most important technical skills for my role have been learning SQL and data analysis. They have been core to understanding product performance and identifying product optimization and growth opportunities. I continually work on developing these skills by putting them into practice everyday. 

inspire

Inspire

Inspire’s VP of Product Chris Brereton said successful product managers should give their engineering teams direction and autonomy in equal measure. 

What are the top three traits a person needs to be a good PM? 

If I had to boil it down to three traits, they would be customer knowledge, business knowledge and market knowledge. You can’t make strong decisions if you don’t have the foundation of understanding your customers, your business and the market you compete in. 

The gap in the answer above, however, misses the soft skills that strong leaders need to coordinate across talented cross-functional groups. Soft skills help teams move in unison and deliver the highest quality outcomes for both the customer and the business. 

Product people need to be able to lead and have incredible time management skills. They should be able to see the forest for the trees, but also able to zoom into the bark-level detail. They should evangelize their vision and progress, and manage multiple time horizons at the same time. 

“Soft skills help teams move in unison and deliver the highest-quality outcomes.”

What technical skills are most important in your role and how do you continue developing those, or other, skills?

I think the ability to understand the principles of how software or hardware development work are important. And not just front-end versus back-end or specific languages. It’s about understanding the whole stack and how it works together to enable the outcomes you seek to produce in an efficient way. 

The best way to learn those things is to be close with your engineering counterparts and understand that how they build something is their decision. It’s your job to decide what your engineering partners build and why they’re building it, but when you get into the how, be endlessly curious, listen and learn from them. 

Within

Within

Within’s Senior Product Manager Eric Silverman said interviewing users of the company’s augmented reality technology is beneficial for gaining deep insight into how the product is working. And the user discoveries he uncovers are made even more impactful when their combined with data born from his use of SQL.

What are the top three traits a person needs to be a good PM?

PMs need to be user-centric. A great product person ensures that their features focus on the most important problems and opportunities for their customer base. 

Secondly, the ability to collaborate across multiple departments allows PMs to refine, surface and advocate for the best ideas. 

Finally, product managers need to be able to clearly articulate the business outcomes driven by their roadmaps and overall product strategy. Also, a good sense of humor doesn’t hurt.

“Good interviewers are able to uncover insights that mountains of Excel sheets can’t.”

What technical skills are most important in your role and how do you continue developing those, or other, skills?

There are two functional areas that I’m continuously investing in as a product manager, and the first is conducting effective user interviews. Good interviewers are able to uncover insights that mountains of Excel sheets can’t. Any time I can participate in a usability study or sit down with a customer, I will. 

The second is on the other end of the spectrum: SQL. The ability to query data often surfaces fruitful areas for exploration and clear benchmarks for product features. Ultimately, when product managers can marry insights from big data with the deeper learning that comes from user interviews, they can create incredibly impactful roadmaps. 

ChowNow

ChowNow

Senior Director of Product Management Cliff Barrett doesn’t think product managers need to know how engineers are coding a product line-for-line. 

However, he did say they should have the desire to “understand every aspect of the technology” engineers are using. The product leader at food ordering platform ChowNow shared the importance of communication between developers and PMs. 

What are the top three traits a person needs to be a good PM?

Good product managers are great leaders. They have leadership skills that inspire their teams. Successful PMs lead through partnership and collaboration. The best product managers I know also have an ability to articulate a clear vision and direction for the product. 

“A successful PM should be able to have an informed conversation about the feasibility of a solution.”

What technical skills are most important in your role and how do you continue developing those, or other, skills?

Product managers should be able to understand how things are getting done; they do not necessarily need to understand every aspect of the technology. However, a successful PM should be able to have an informed conversation about the feasibility of a solution. 

Product managers that partner with their engineering team to learn more about the technologies being utilized in their product are able to stay current. 
 

Cockroach Labs

Cockroach Labs

A quality that Lakshmi Kannan sees in the best product managers again and again? Resourcefulness. 

With the internet making information-sourcing so simple, current and aspiring PMs have no excuse not to hone their skills, she said. Kannan, who manages CockroachCloud, a cloud-native database and one of Cockroach Lab’s business-friendly applications, looks to social sites like YouTube for the latest technical development intel. 

What are the top three traits a person needs to be a good PM?

As a PM, one of your primary responsibilities is ensuring that your stakeholders, department leaders and senior management are aligned on the problems you’re solving and the strategy and implementation path to get there. A good PM can tailor their communication to the audience and is willing to do so as often as required.

We talk a lot about empathy to customer problems. I like to think of it as being able to understand the true problem a user is facing and being able to solve for that problem. Often, users complain about one thing but the underlying cause is something else. A great PM is able to get to the root cause of the customer problem and use a first-principles approach to address it.

As a PM, many people demand your time and attention. You can easily spend a week just in meetings and working through email backlog. A great PM is ruthless about prioritizing their time and calendar and then actually follows up on what they said they would do. 

“Identify good documentation for your favorite technical product and start using it.’’

From a technical perspective, what skills have you found to be most important in your role, and what steps do you take to continue developing those skills?

I read a lot for work, whether it’s academic papers, books, or essays on my Twitter feed. Find your people on the internet. YouTube, Twitter and Medium are all good places to start. Follow their work and engage with them. I have learned the most this way.

Nothing is better than getting your hands dirty. Identify good documentation for your favorite technical product and start using it. Many people write about their experience using specific software. Consider them resources.

As a PM building a cloud product, I also took certification programs that the cloud providers offer. While the precise certificate doesn’t really matter, I found those courses to be the best broad exposure to topics such as networking, computing, storage challenges and security.

Stash

Stash

While Stash‘s Catherine Cornell helps clients see a clear path to success using their product, she wants her team to feel comfortable with ambiguity. We discovered why the director of product said good PMs need to be bold enough to work in environments “where there is no clear path to success.”

What are the top three traits a person needs to be a good PM?

While hard skills like organization and technical understanding are important, I place greater emphasis on soft skills. We all know a good product manager needs to be empathetic. A good PM is also curious. Instead of blindly fulfilling customer requests, they question users until they find the “why” behind it. Lastly, a good PM needs to be bold enough to work in an environment where there is no clear path to success. At Stash, we see each failure as a learning opportunity. A PM’s boldness helps them embrace risk. 

“The most valuable technical skill a PM can have is the ability to use resources like Stack Overflow…’’ 

From a technical perspective, what skills have you found to be most important in your role, and what steps do you take to continue developing those skills?

Familiarity with SQL or analytics tools are table-stakes for product managers. Feeling comfortable writing regular expressions helps track down bugs or create monitors from logs. The most valuable technical skill a PM can have is the ability to use resources like Stack Overflow or YouTube to self-learn new skills. Languages and tools are constantly evolving. Being empowered to teach yourself is invaluable. 

Disclaimer: BuiltinNYC is a paid partner of Stash. Investment advisory services offered by Stash Investments LLC, an SEC registered investment advisor. This information is for educational purpose only, and is not intended as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

Candid

Candid

While there might be no such thing as a stupid question, some are more beneficial to the management process than others –– an important distinction when time restrictions and client expectations are involved. 

Candid CIO Lilla Cosgrove told us that thoughtful investigation is a top priority when it comes to getting product work done at the orthodontic aligner company.  

What are the top three traits a person needs to be a good PM?

Great product managers are one-part business thinker, one-part technical thinker and one-part customer thinker. 

To me, the top three traits for success include the ability to zoom in or out at a moment’s notice: One of the more difficult aspects of a product manager’s job is that in one moment they may have to give the CEO a high-level rundown of their team’s quarterly roadmap and in the next, they may have to help an engineer understand a specific feature requirement. They need to be able to zoom out, inspire vision and tell a narrative story while diving into the details to ensure flawless execution.

They also need to be able to prioritize systematically: Feature ideas are always being thrown their way. PMs need to help the business prioritize them objectively with a back-of-the-envelope impact analysis or by diving deep into customer research. 

PMs also must execute with grace, inspiring excellence across both their team and their stakeholders through stellar communication and no-excuses results. 

“Great product managers are one-part business thinker, one-part technical thinker and one-part customer thinker.’’

From a technical perspective, what skills have you found to be most important in your role, and what steps do you take to continue developing those skills?

Though this might not obviously pop out as a technical skill, I’ve found asking the right questions to be most important trait in a product role. 

Being able to dig into data and understand technical architecture tradeoffs are in many ways table-stakes. But getting a misleading answer from that data or pointing your engineering lead in the wrong direction because you asked the wrong question can really sink a product over time. Developing this is really a matter of practice, so I’m constantly looking for new frameworks for evaluating problems and trying them on for size. 

Expedia Group

Expedia Group

If you’ve ever wanted a lower-priced plane ticket, you’ve probably used Expedia Group, which works with over 10 brands to provide travel discounts. Senior Director of Product and Technology Deepthi Kondapalli said a curious and open mind is essential for product managers helping customers discover the world.

What are the top three traits a person needs to be a good PM?

The first top trait is customer empathy. PMs need to take away the cognitive load from customers. They have to do this by working with cross-functional teams and building cohesive systems. Great customer experiences tend to be the ones that have a long-lasting impact on users. We put our customers and partners at the center of our product and service innovation and decision-making. PMs need to be the spearhead of this principle.

The second trait is to think big and small. A core expectation from any PM is to be the visionary in the room. PMs should invest time to comprehend the business landscape, do a thorough competitive analysis and have a point of view. Their judgment should drive product roadmap prioritization and ultimately guide teams iteratively toward their North star vision.

The third trait it being able to inspire. I am fortunate to be working with very talented PMs. Every day, I am inspired by the experiences they are dreaming up. They are making things magical for the traveler in me. PMs have to work with cross-functional stakeholders. It is imperative to be able to tailor their communications and be a common thread that brings them together. A PM has to understand today’s technology not just from a high level but also at the code- and system-design level. 

“PMs need to take away the cognitive load from customers.

From a technical perspective, what skills have you found to be most important in your role, and what steps do you take to continue developing those (or other) skills?

From a technical perspective, my background is in computer science and engineering. Over the years, I have carefully made my way by learning what it takes to build a durable business with technical solutions at its core. Along the way, great mentors at Expedia have helped me uncover gaps and provided opportunities to build these new muscles.

I humbly believe that there is always more to learn and strive to keep an open mind. It is exciting to see the rapid progress in technology even just in the last decade. Not long ago, there was a time when AJAX was the new thing. Now, we have full-duplex connections that most modern browsers support. This changes what we imagine as possible product experiences. It allows us to make our offerings just a little bit more magical.

Yapta

Yapta

Frequent business travelers shouldn’t have to wait for racked-up miles to get discounts. Yapta provides discounted airfare options for corporate travel so flights don’t take a big bite out of budgets. Chief Product Officer Valerie Layman said that successful product managers must work with all departments to understand and solve for business needs.

What are the top three traits a person needs to be a good PM?

The traits I look for are curiosity, inquisitiveness and inclusivity. They must also be passionate about their domain and the long-term success of their products. They should focus on the big picture and break down walls.  

A good product manager is always looking at how they can work with all departments in the organization to ensure the success of the products.

“Data-driven decisions are key to focusing on the right priorities…  

From a technical perspective, what skills have you found to be most important in your role, and what steps do you take to continue developing those (or other) skills?

PMs must use business intelligence tools, such as Tableau, to mine the data for product performance. Data-driven decisions are key to focusing on the right priorities and understanding where strengths and deficiencies exist.   

A good PM is also proficient at monitoring and communicating in Slack channels. This allows them to listen to conversations about their products across the organization to ensure success: from engineering and sales to marketing and customer success. Addressing issues, answering questions or solving a need upfront helps us drive better products. This can be super complex in an organization with prolific Slack usage.

With corporate travel, it’s extremely important for product managers to understand the back-end airline and hotel global distribution systems. This allows them to have an upfront understanding of the complexity of the features they are asking to be delivered, as well as ensure the technical decisions align with the business goals. 

Mythical Games

Mythical Games

Mythical Games, a next-generation technology studio run on blockchain, is hoping to make futuristic gaming products a reality. Director of Product Liwen Kao told us that their product managers need to be self-sufficient in order to bring Mythical Games’ latest releases to market.

What are the top three traits a person needs to be a good PM?

Product managers need to have a variety of traits to succeed. In my experience, three of the most important are problem-solving, collaboration and willingness to learn. At their core, PMs are problem-solvers. Whether it’s tackling a user pain point or improving a process that’s hindering a team’s effectiveness, good PMs strive to make things better for their product and its user base. 

As PMs need to work with a variety of disciplines inside their company and externally, they also need to collaborate to get the most out of their team and other stakeholders. 

“At their core, PMs are problem-solvers.

From a technical perspective, what skills have you found to be most important in your role, and what steps do you take to continue developing those (or other) skills?

As I’ve worked in smaller startups in recent years, I’ve learned to be self-sufficient when it comes to keeping myself informed about my product and creating internal work products. For example, I do my own big data queries and analyses, draft low-fidelity UI and UX mock-ups, test API calls and sometimes do some light front-end coding for prototypes. 

From my perspective, doing is the best way to keep these skills sharp, and so I try to incorporate these activities into my normal routine whenever I can.