What are the best skills or background for a PM to have? Are there specific experiences in data, design, or engineering that set a PM up for success?

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I’ve hired over 30 Product Managers in my career and I can tell you that there is no specific background that consistently leads to better PMs. I’ve had amazing PMs who came from Engineering, Design, Account Management, History majors (best PM I ever had), Finance.... the list goes on.

Great PMs are: Curious, detail-oriented, Team builders, persuasive, self-motivated and not afraid to fail.


I agree with Dustin. Way to go Dustin.


Story telling.


True words from a seasoned PM.

Great answers below! I will add that if you're interested in being a PM for a tech company, it's important to be comfortable with all the areas you mentioned.

Being curious, persuasive, self-motivated, and good at story-telling are great must-haves, but it makes a huge difference to have a PM with (1) true data competence, (2) a strong design sense, (3) an accurate sense of what is easy or hard to build, and (4) the business acumen to understand where the true strategic growth levers are for a product. The amount of additional impact that a PM with those skills can drive is exponential because they will be much more efficient.

Smart, curious, self-motivated PMs will develop all those skills eventually, but not everyone is strong in all of them to begin with.

If you want to develop skills in those areas, you have to get your hands dirty. Take classes if you need to. Pull data and understand how to analyze it, spend time creating or critically evaluating designs for your projects and other companies, write code and talk to experienced engineers about what makes projects easy or hard, zoom out and examine growth/revenue levers for your company and others. Take on projects which involve expertise in all these areas combined.


I think there are great answers here, and I'll add people management where you understand the limitations and capabilities of the people involved, the resources they need and what level of pressure produces the best results. The people are everything.


People management becomes more of a necessity as you move up the ranks, but I’ll say from L3 to L5/6 execution skills would still be strong drivers of success

Great answers here. I find Udemy and General Assembly courses (or coursera) super helpful in getting some of the basics down!

- Sorytelling (Because you’re responsible for building the vision for your product)
- Persuasive ( Because you must convince certain non believers within your company on why its worth putting resources behind your vision)
- Detail oriented (Because executing on a product requires multiple rules and sequences across multiple teams, depending on scope)
- Engineering sense (Based on anproduct concept you can estimate with 30% margin how long it’ll take to build a product)
- Product Sense ( You have an excellent intuition of your customer to the point where you can preempt their product reactions with some certainty)

These skills aren’t easy to build, but from my time being a PM I’d say these are the most solid skills you’ll need

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