informed recruitment for people in product

product management - my how you've grown

24 June 2016

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Over the next few months I’ll be writing a series of blogs on product management. It’s an area that we specialise in at Newton Blue and are really excited about. After working in recruitment for more years than I care to mention, it’s important to me and to the business to recognise our areas of expertise and concentrate on niche markets, as this obviously benefits all of the people that we work with. We have worked on many product management roles within the IT sector, from strategic to development, from Product Owners to non-technical and Technical Product Managers to Heads of Product. There are marked differences between many varied roles and things are further complicated by the unique requirements of each client - more on this later.

I have watched with interest as the sector has grown in the UK, especially over the last few years. The evolution of the tech industry has obviously been largely responsible for this, but recently other industries such as media and retail have been following suit, with more and more product management departments springing up. If you ask, most Product Managers will tell you we are still way behind the US, but it is now recognised as a vitally important ingredient from the smallest tech startups to the larger industry leaders.

Around 2010 it was extremely hard to find good candidates. A couple of years later it was interesting how much had changed. Companies were identifying the need to formalise structure of product management within their business. One of the big changes I’ve found in technology, and specifically software companies, is the way that their product was developed. In the old days the Sales team would sell to the customer. The customer would ask for changes to the product which would be relayed to the development team who, so long as it was technically possible, would shoehorn it in. In some cases this resulted in products that, whilst not unfit for purpose, were clunky and inhibitive to innovation and progress. Over the last few years there has been a rapid revolution and it is now widely recognised that having good management of a product is integral to growth, ensuring at the outset where the target market is, what that market demands and the consequential success of the business.

Product Managers play a key role that is pivotal to that success. They usually work closely with the CTO and COO of the company, in some cases also playing a crucial part in recruitment for those roles. If your Product Manager calls it wrong, you end up with a non-viable product and an unsuccessful business. Personally, I find the complexity and challenges associated with recruiting for product management roles a constantly fascinating and satisfying process. However, when talking to hiring managers and candidates the demand for specialist recruiters is high. It appears that if you are a Product Manager looking for your next role, you tend to be lumped under marketing/digital/ecommerce sectors rather than dealing with a consultant specialising in the sector. Equally if you are a hiring manager, you should be dealing with a recruiter who knows the sector inside out and has knowledge of your industry and the best people working in it.

I’m lucky enough to have built some great working relationships and friendships with experts in the field who know a lot more than me. So watch this space for a collation of observations, news, tools and top tips from the current world of product management.

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