A Director of Product is responsible for overseeing, leading, and managing product teams throughout the product development process. The role has visibility of all levels of product development, from design to UX to Agile product delivery to marketing and beyond.
Their role is to guide other product leaders (and the teams they lead) in the delivery of a final product — one that meets or exceeds specifications and is delivered on time. It is essential for the Director of Product to have a clear product vision that they can share with the people they lead, in turn steering the entire organization to a successful product launch.
Just as with any other leadership role, it’s unlikely that anyone would simply step into the role of Director of Product right away. Instead, the most common trajectory for a Director of Product aligns well with the overall product career path.
In most cases, the Director of Product is a role that evolves over time, with the individual generally starting their career as a Junior Product Manager or other forms of junior role. From there, with time and experience, an individual can progress through the hierarchy until they are promoted to Director of Product. Depending on the company, the Director of Product will report to the Vice President of Product, Chief Product Officer, SVP, EVP, or CEO.
As the name suggests, a company’s Director of Product sits at the top of the Product organization, though this can be interchangeable with the VP or Head of Product. So, while there is no definite structure to which all companies abide, here’s a broad outline of the hierarchy (and, indeed, the career path) within which the Director of Product role is located:
Junior / Associate Product Manager
Senior Product Manager
Director of Product
VP Product / Head of Product
Chief Product Officer.