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How to become an Indispensable Product Manager

Product managers are infamous for being the busiest professionals in the business world. A product manager is responsible for managing the processes of developing a product, from conceptualization to launch. He oversees the whole process of researching, designing, testing, strategizing, and effectively marketing a company’s products or services.

What is the difference between a Product Manager and a Project Manager?

Because of the similarity in roles and job descriptions, the job titles; Product Manager and Project Manager, are often used interchangeably. However, they do not mean the same thing. Professionals functioning in both positions often work together in the company, but one person cannot perform efficiently the duties of both roles.

The key difference is in what they manage. The product manager is in charge of products, while the project manager oversees projects to successful execution.

Products in this context refer to software, app, company’s services or policies, or an actual animate object like a gadget. A project on the flip side is a set of tasks assigned to a team of experts, to be completed within a stipulated timeframe.

If the end goal of a project is to launch a new product, then every team member (including the product manager) will be assigned different tasks to aid the development of the project. The team lead (who in this case will be the product manager), will then report directly to the project manager.

Other things that can count as projects to be supervised by the project manager include securing a contract deal, boosting the brand’s online presence, and so on.

What does a Product Manager do?

The job description for a product manager can vary from company to company, but general duties to be expected include:

  • Conducting market analysis to predict the response of the target audience to a new product idea.
  • Developing strategies to improve on already existing products.
  • Collaborating with the UI/UX designer and other tech experts to develop new products and create new features.
  • Monitoring the product’s progress, and overseeing test runs.
  • Reviewing marketing strategies for the product with the marketing team, to boost sales after the launch.
  • Sending reports to company management to keep them up-to-date on the product’s progress.

Job Requirements Include:

1. An Undergraduate Degree

A product manager job position requires an undergraduate degree in business, computer science, or engineering. You can also apply for the job role with a degree in statistics, marketing, or management.

2. A Background in Technology

Although this is not a major requirement, prior knowledge of UI/UX Design and coding will give you an added advantage in the application process. Most companies organize special training to familiarize the new employee with these skills after hiring.

3. Experience

While some companies are open to hiring product managers at the entry-level, most companies request some level of experience in their job requirements.

4. Good Time Management and Multitasking skills

A product manager may need to handle the development of several products with close deadlines for launching, this is where multitasking skills and good time management skills come in handy.

5. Brilliant Written and Spoken Communication Skills.

Communication skills are an important requirement for any job position, the role of a product manager also. The product manager should be able to interact with other members of the team and communicate the product’s features and marketing strategies.

6. Strong Interpersonal Skills and Teamwork Ability

There will always be collaborations between the product manager and other tech experts, in the course of building the new product. Healthy interpersonal relation skills and the ability to work in a team will come in very handy to ensure that these collaborations run smoothly.

7. Problem-solving skills.

Problem-solving skills help the product manager identify issues with the product and find solutions to them quickly. They also come in handy in resolving any conflicts that may arise between members of the team while working together.

How to Become a Product Manager

1. Reach out to a Product Manager already working in the Role

Do your research and get insight into what being a product manager entails, by talking to current project managers. If you do not know any product managers in person, you can find one on LinkedIn or YouTube. By doing this, you also gain access to mentorship which is a great way of getting recommendations.

2. Obtain Certifications

Run a course on product management on an approved learning platform like Udemy or Alison Courses and obtain a certificate. The presence of certifications in your resume gives more credibility to the knowledge you have gained.

3. Execute side projects and Document them.

Start a side project for practice work, and document them on completion. You can also collaborate with other students of tech-related courses to get the especially difficult ones executed successfully. Side projects you can take on include building a website, developing an app or software, or directing an e-campaign for awareness for a new brand. It could be anything, as a matter of fact, provided it showcases that you have a good command of product management skills.

4. Equip yourself with some knowledge of technology

Most product manager roles exist in the technology industry. This is why you must equip yourself with some fundamental knowledge of technology, so you can blend in. Knowledge of basic programming languages like CSS, HTML, or JavaScript, will do just fine.

5. Polish your Project Presentation Skills

Product Managers are required to give a detailed presentation on their product; the features and problems it is solving, to stakeholders and external teams. Your goal is to enhance your presentation skills and to communicate your ideas clearly and convincingly.

6. Apply for Associate Product Manager 

The job requirements for a product manager’s role are different in various companies, so you may want to first apply to be an associate PM at your dream company, to gain training and first-hand experience.

The APM programs run for a short while, just like internships. However, if you are committed and dedicated to the role, it could land you the job of a PM in the same firm.

7. Apply to job listings via a Job Search Site like HubForJobs

If you didn’t get the role of an APM, you can move a step further and apply for the role of a Product Manager on job boards. It is advisable to apply to small businesses first when you are starting on this career path. You are more likely to get accepted into the role of a product manager without experience, in a smaller company, than at a large tech firm like Google.

Job Positions you can apply for to start a Career Path in Product Management Include:

1. Customer Support

Customer support is one of the skills a good product manager should have. Starting as a customer support representative, all you need to do is run a course on product management and acquire tech skills to be eligible for the post of Product Manager in the same company.

2. Marketing Specialist

A marketing specialist is already well acquainted with developing marketing strategies, which is another skill a professional needs to be efficient in this role. Of course, you will still need certification in product management, however, it will be easier for you to transition into the post of a product manager at your current company than it will be for a newbie to get the position.

How to Transition into the Role of a Product Manager

It is easier to transition into the product manager role from a job position in the same company. Here’s what you should do:

  • Practice taking on side projects that give you an experience in product management.
  • Volunteer to proffer solutions to a challenge your team may have at work. Research solutions to the challenge and offer to execute them to help the project team.
  • Keep track of the projects you have helped with and what you have learned from them. Use these experiences to start conversations with the product management team and build your network.
  • Apply for the position of product manager when there is an opening.

How to Become an Indispensable Product Manager

  • Be a problem solver.
  • Develop a technical skillset.
  • Network with other product management experts and learn from them.
  • Build a good relationship with other team members and maintain it.

What is the Average Salary of a Product Manager in Nigeria?

The average salary of a product manager in Nigeria is NGN200,000 per month.


The job of a product manager can be tasking but may be fulfilling. A huge perk is that you don’t need a lot of qualifications to get the job. All you need to do is acquire relevant skillsets and certifications and leverage your network. If you are someone who likes to provide solutions to challenges, you would find the position of a product manager very rewarding.

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