The Different Types of Product Managers

The Different Types of Product Managers

The Technical Product Manager (TPM)

The Technical Product Manager almost always was a developer before they moved to product.  They also weren’t just a developer, they were one of your best developers. Even more, as a developer, they understood what could be shipped quick and dirty and what was worth investing significantly more development time on.  They had the Product Manager’s instinct even before moving to product.

The Technical Product Manager is an incredible asset for every product team.  What they may lack in strategic insights or marketing aptitude, they make up for with their ability to build strong relationships with developers and maximize team output.

Most Often Found at Companies Like: Google, Microsoft, Amazon (AWS), PagerDuty, Cybersecurity, DevOps Companies

The Analytic/Data Science Product Manager (APM)

The Analytic Product Manager is a close cousin of the Technical Product Manager.  Additionally, there is a large amount of overlap between the two archetypes. While the TPM was almost always a developer prior to entering product, the APM was almost always an analyst before moving to product.  Again, not just a simple analyst, but the strongest analyst your company has. They not only were experts at SQL, Python, or Multivariate Testing, but they understood the power of their recommendations to influence business decisions.

Being an APM/GSD-PM myself, I can share that most APMs find themselves frustrated in only being able to recommend product decisions.  They move to product in order to move beyond the simple recommendation to the actual execution of business changing decisions.

The APM is typically the most informed Product Manager about the performance of their products and the other products of the company.  They love data and can never get enough.

 Most Often Found at Companies Like: Palantir, Looker, Plaid, ML-Heavy Companies

The Marketing Product Manager (MPM)

The Marketing Product Manager has an innate understanding of the end customer.  They know their customers goals, their personas, and their purchase motivations.  Often, MPMs have a background in advertising, PR, or other marketing fields. It’s incredibly clear to the MPM which features will sell the product and which ones are irrelevant.  They’re also cognizant of the power of marketing and how it can make product strengths appear larger and product weaknesses seem non-existent.

The MPM is an essential member of the product team throughout the launch cycle as a new product is brought to market.  They’ll help with positioning, pricing, and targeting in a way that no other Product Manager can.

Most Often Found at Companies Like: Intercom, Hubspot, Toast, Allbirds

The “Get Shit Done” Product Manager (GSD-PM)

The Get Shit Done Product Manager is an interesting variation on the Product Manager that is much more rare than the TPM, APM, or MPM.  The GSD-PM is a hard charger, they don’t take no for an answer, and are intensely focused on delivery at all costs. This Product Manager may burn bridges, make enemies, and work their development team to the brink, but they’ll achieve their goals.

There isn’t room for a GSD Product Manager at every company.  For the above reasons, this type of Product Manager is often only found at high growth/high intensity startups and still hard-charging, late-stage, private companies.

Most Often Found at Companies Like: Lime, Bird, Uber (Kalanick era), Facebook (Early Years)

The Visionary Product Manager (VPM)

The Visionary Product Manager is the rarest variety of Product Manager.  The VPM positions themselves above the day to day tactical execution that most other Product Managers are consumed by.  They have an innate understanding of their company, of the market, of their customers, and potential customers.

Many VPMs were founders of startups or work at venture capital companies.  They think in three year timelines instead of three months. They aren’t focused on just this product release, but how it impacts the vision their have for the company in five years.

Most Often Found As: Founders of Seed Stage Startups

What type of Product Manager will you be? 

Even if you don’t fit into one of these major Product Manager archetypes, that’s completely fine.  I’m confident you will find value in the ideas, insights, and motivation shared in this course.

Thank you again for selecting this course and let’s get to work turning you into a Product Manager!

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