A Product Manager should have basic competency in a range of skills, and expertise in at least a few areas. This will ensure his credibility within the organization.
If you are a junior PM starting your career, analysis, documentation and presentation are the first few vital skills. Next comes domain expertise, which you will gain over time.
A mid-level PM, with 3-4 years of experience under his belt, must have domain expertise, strong analytical skills, people skills and persuasiveness. In addition, should know about pricing, marketing, sales and other ancillary functions. He will likely have frequent interactions with clients and partners, so he must promote the firm at all times. These skills are required in addition to the skills of a junior PM.
A senior PM must to have strong leadership skills, project management skills and the capability to hire and mentor junior PMs. He is likely to get authority for contract negotiations, product launches, vendor management and legal approvals. He might also have complete responsibility for one or more products. Again, this is in addition to the skills acquired over the course of his career so far.
Finally, a Director or VP of Product Management is expected to lead product management for a portfolio of products and provide vision and strategy to the organization or the business unit. It involves budgeting , planning, P&L management, inter-department coordination, analyst relations and visibility in the industry as an expert. He has a very strong network of contacts outside the firm which is often used to identify potential M&A targets. He also works with the bankers and the corporate strategy team for due diligence when a “hot” startup is identified.
It is possible to grow in the product management path without having expertise in a few product management dimensions. However, unless you are very, very good at the others, your career will either stagnate or you will become redundant to the firm after a while.
So, looking at your career graph, what expertise have you gained so far. And how did you gain that expertise?