Personally, I describe myself as having “20 years experience in moving data around” and I spend lots of time improving my data engineering skills. But while doing so I was an engineer, ops, architect, consultant, product manager and a bit of an evangelist. The toolset I use is ever changing — Oracle, MySQL, Hadoop, Kafka and who knows what’s next. Because I looked at one problem for many years from multiple directions, my expertise is quite valuable to companies that are trying to build their data infrastructure. But, because I didn’t spend 20 years as an engineer, I don’t have the engineering depth that I see when working with really amazing engineers.
People will tell you that being a product manager is a technical role. This is a lie. It is true that you need to be able to hold your end of a semi-technical conversation or the engineers (and sometimes customers) won’t take you seriously. And it is true that product manager is a bit more technical than most marketing or sales positions. But it isn’t technical. The problems you are solving are not technical problems. Engineers do that. They will be unhappy if you try to do their job. If, like me, you derive real joy from solving technical challenges, you are going to miss this a lot.