More firms than ever are employing product managers and using product management platforms.
But product management can be a demanding role. While there are great opportunities to do meaningful work, challenges can come as part of the job.
Ahead of airfocus’ upcoming roundtable - Product Management Trends and Challenges in 2022 – we are running guest posts by the event participants.
Next in line is Adam Hecht, Senior Product Manager, eCommerce Platform, at apparel company Bombas - read on to learn more about his product management journey and his take on the current market trends.
Much of my product management career has been spent working for B2B tech firms. I have a background in AdTech, so I am used to working with raw data to structure products. That was interesting, but I wanted a role that gave a little something back to society, which led me to Bombas.
It’s a great company with an empowering mission and story. It was founded on the idea that socks were the #1 requested item at homeless shelters, so for every pair of socks that Bombas sells, a specially-designed pair is donated to those in need.
When Bombas expanded into underwear and t-shirts, (the #2 and #3 most requested items at shelters), we continued donating those items as well. To date, Bombas has donated more than 50 million items to the homeless community.
So, it's a different product management landscape in B2C, without a doubt, but there are some similarities.
One of those similarities is the presence of a major competitor. In the world of enterprise software, the main competition is often Microsoft Excel. In eCommerce, the main competition is mostly Amazon. Both are massive companies that can be hard to unseat. So, working in product management at Bombas, Amazon is a massive elephant in the room, meaning we must be mindful of the brand and the story all the time – how can these be brought to the fore when shaping the product?
We must make it easy for customers to buy from the site and we must deliver to them an enjoyable experience. But our mission is what drives loyalty, and this informs everything I do from a product perspective.
What I’ve found particularly interesting of late is the trend for more diversity in product management. Bombas is an incredibly diverse brand with diverse customers. We sell our products to people from all walks of life and all backgrounds, so it’s essential for the product team to reflect that as much as possible. We’re proud to say that our product teams indeed reflect these trends.
It’s not original to say that product management is the voice of the customer, but it’s no less true because of that. Over the past few years, I’ve interviewed a variety of different people for product management roles. Machine learning engineers and chemistry PhDs interviewing for entry-level product management roles, and much more diversity generally in terms of people's ethnicity, gender, and neurodiversity.
Being more inclusive in this way can only help the industry. Tapping into the experiences and expertise of groups other than white CIS men is essential in all business areas. But, I really notice it in product management.
Seeing even more diversity and inclusion will be a significant trend for product management in 2022 and beyond.
For anyone wanting to get into product management, several skills are important irrespective of someone's background. Empathy is perhaps the main one of those. Product managers must have empathy for customers, of course, and many other stakeholders within the organization and the business itself.
Time management is also crucial. That sounds like a simple skill, but the demands on a product manager are many and varied. We spend such vast amounts of time in meetings, gathering feedback, and assessing priorities, which can diminish the amount of actual work we can do on a given day. Burnout is also a potential issue, so staying on top of your time is more critical than ever.
Finally, a good product manager needs courage and wisdom. Using data to inform decisions is vital, but at some point, there is a chance that a product feature might fail. Sometimes it just happens. So, product managers occasionally need to make a bet. That requires guts and to be able to demonstrate it was an informed bet, in case it fails.
Overall, I see three trends shaping product management right now. Whether B2C or B2B, product management must come up against BigTech, diversity in product management has never been so important, and empathy is the key attribute for product managers to have.
Adam will be sharing further product management insight and discussing other trends during the upcoming airfocus roundtable, which takes place on Tuesday, December 14th, 2021, at 3:00 PM (GMT).
Click here to register.