4 Career Ladders In Product Management

Aatir Abdul Rauf


Aatir Abdul Rauf


Sep 26, 2022

4 Career Ladders In Product Management

Q: "How do responsibilities evolve in a product management career?"

There really is no standard Product Management career ladder. Every company defines the role differently and that's why "career progression" can take many shapes and forms.

What I can do is share how product management duties evolved in my career journey to the Director role:

As an Entry-Level Product Manager at Pakwheels & Yallamotor, I was mostly focused mostly on crafting solutions for localized problems:

  • Understand pain points from a customer & devise a technical solution
  • Develop specs & prototypes
  • Work with engineers & designers to deliver it and iron out kinks

Note that the strategic portion was mainly driven by supervisors & business development.

When I moved into a Mid-level Product Manager role at Bayt, the changes I saw were:

  • Ownership of a larger product area, especially high-traffic modules
  • More autonomy on backlog specifics & prioritization (didn't need approvals for everything)
  • I had more customer exposure and discovery opportunities + attended lots of sales demos
  • Deeper insights on data & dashboards
  • Better grip on the industry & domain
A man presents to his team

The next step into a Group-level/Lead Product Manager at vFairs & Bayt shifted things around a bit:

  • I was no longer writing detailed specs or prototypes (Product owners and junior PMs handled that)
  • I got involved in hiring for my team (PMs, devs etc.) and was found to be in a lot more interviews
  • There was a lot more "managing up" - I had to produce reports, get into investor meetings, present status on key initiatives etc. Data, data everywhere
  • I had more of a say on our project management methodology & was able to affect process changes to tailor it for the product needs

Finally, when I moved into a Director role, it was more of a paradigm shift rather than a linear progression.

  • The role became very strategic in nature e.g. I had to care about the ecosystem of products we were building like how we could get our recruitment products (namely Talentera, AfterHire and Evalufy) to talk with each other
  • I was attending product reviews and sprint demos where I had to share detailed feedback on the user experience
  • I was in talks with a lot more tech stack providers & partners e.g. choosing the analytics tech stack, live chat integrations etc.
  • Lots of cross-functional collaboration e.g. organizing go-to-market campaigns with marketing
  • Owning the PnL and other OKRs through and through

Remember: If you're just getting into more meetings and delivering more documents over time, then that's not really growth in the discipline.

The litmus test is the balance shift between tactical and strategic initiatives. As you accumulate experience, you're able to guide teams on what mistakes to avoid & how to outplay competition.

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