The Biggest Challenges on the Path to Becoming a Product Manager

Ricardo Guia
Feb 5, 2019 · 5 min read

I started my career studying Electrical Engineering having no idea what product Management was. What I discovered during my studies is that I didn’t enjoy the technical part of my job to be doing it for my whole life.

What I enjoyed was the business part where I could apply my analytical skills to solve problems.

For my first internship I looked for something where I could apply my analytical skills. In SC Johnson I had the opportunity to improve my analytical skills through market analysis such as: market share, stocks, average price, product distribution, sales, etc.

Skills needed to be a Product Manager

There are so many different skills that a Product Manager needs. There is no specific university course you can take to develop all the skills.

Luckily for me, I developed these skills throughout my career. If someone wants to become a PM, I recommend reading a lot about the different skills set required/recruiters are looking for.

  1. Problem Analysis
  2. Management Foundations
  3. Planning and Prioritization
  4. Create a Collaboration Environment
  5. Cut to the chase
  6. Work Hard
  7. Failure is part of Learning
  8. Use your product more than anyone else

A product manager should be a problem-solver. It is really hard to answer open questions if you don’t a have a framework to analyze the problem.
For example, the company CEO asks you why we are selling 50% less? You could answer with a lot of unlinked hypothesis and never get to the main cause.

Ecommerce example

As a PM you spend a large part of your time managing people. I believe it is really important to have some foundations that will give you the framework of how to manage.

In my case I defined “My Management Credo” is based on 4 main topics (you can check more details here):

My 4 Management Pillars

My first experience with prioritization was during my first internship. I was taking notes in a small notebook of more than 20 tasks I had to do. That was overwhelming!

I could never finish everything so I had to start prioritizing what would be more impactful for the company.

Nowadays, I use Trello to prioritize myself, as well as for the company I evaluate what is more important based on ROI:

After I have everything prioritized I start developing a Roadmap:

This is a summary of the whole process. There are some other tasks that happen during the process such as: brainstorming, team alignment meetings, feedback collection, etc.

Collaboration Environment brings better ideas

It is really important to create a collaboration environment if you want to get the best ideas to bring better results. Being a PM does not mean you need to be the sole owner of ideas but bring the best ideas. In the book Criativity, Inc by Ed Catmull (from Pixar) he mentions that the great movies did not start with an amazing idea. They actually started with weird ideas, and with the contribution of several people it became something great.

Silicon Valley Learnings

During my time in Silicon Valley, I noticed three learnings that I think are really important for a PM.

Some people call this the elevator pitch or cut the cr**. At the end you should be direct and concise; time is money.

There are no easy comings. By working hard you can increase your chances of getting better results.

When your project does not work out, you shouldn’t take it as a complete loss. Actually, you should stop and think what were the mistakes to try and to avoid these the next a time around.

It is in your title: PRODUCT manager. This title only makes sense if you really know your product. Using it frequently is the best way to understand, identify problems and opportunities. It is really important to create the habit of going through the product flow at least every week.

You can see the presentation that I made at the Hacktudo Event below:

If you want to know more, please feel free to contact me.

Agile Insider

Exclusive & practical insights about rapidly delivering value.

By Agile Insider

The best of Agile Insider delivered to your inbox Take a look.

By signing up, you will create a Medium account if you don’t already have one. Review our Privacy Policy for more information about our privacy practices.

Check your inbox
Medium sent you an email at to complete your subscription.

Agile Insider

Exclusive and practical insights that enable the agile community to succeed.

Ricardo Guia

Written by

Head of Product at Passei Direto and Founder of ArtishUp

Agile Insider

Exclusive and practical insights that enable the agile community to succeed.

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox. Explore

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic. Write on Medium

Get the Medium app