Product Managers: to code or not to code?

There are loads of articles on the web regarding the various opinions on if Product Managers need to know how to code and the answer is simple — no.

Increasingly, technical skills and a strong tech background are not the top priorities for employers. Instead, employers are drawing on diverse backgrounds to find the credible product managers they need for their business.

“Although a technical education or professional background lends well towards building credibility with engineering teams, start-ups are prioritizing demonstrated leadership, excellent communication, user empathy and creative design aesthetics in diversifying their product management teams,” said Eric Soni, Senior Consultant at Robert Walters California.

The PM archetype

The latest trend among hiring managers in start-ups seeking credible Product Managers is to look beyond the technical.

Many successful PMs, while possessing a passion for technology, do not have the tech-heavy professional background that some would expect. The newest wave of PM talent is generated from backgrounds like robotics, marketing and business.

Increasingly, a diversified background is holding more importance in landing a career-changing PM role. Whether your background is in computer science or marketing, the demonstration of entrepreneurial skills, creativity and a passion for the user experience are the true fundamentals when trying to break into this career field.

“With the rising importance of user experience and design, hiring managers are now looking for PMs that come from the design and user experience background,” said Anna Meyer, Senior Consultant at Robert Walters California.

What’s great about this changing nature of of the PM archetype (or lack thereof) is the ability for a more creative and non-engineering types to break into this field. Who else better to sympathize with user experience than the users themselves? Often engineers, who know the extensive hours of work built into a product, are not always the most keen at listening to users issues. That is not to say that engineers don’t make good product managers, but that they aren’t the only ones. Sometimes it is the fresh outsider’s perspective that can really push a product to the next level.

So whether you have extensive knowledge of CMS or barely any, if you have a passion for user experience and a knack for creativity, you could be the perfect fit for a PM role.

Interested in becoming a product manager? Find out what it takes to be a successful PM.