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What Does A Product Manager Do At A Big Tech Firm Like Google Or Amazon?

If you want a fast-paced, dynamic career, becoming a product manager in tech might be for you. But what does a product manager do? And what skills do you need at top firms like Google and Amazon?

Thu Sep 21 2023

The fusion of transformative technologies with human creativity has led to many breakthrough tech products in years past. From virtual technology assistants that live in our homes to watches that can monitor our blood pressure. 

Now, with new advancements such as generative AI systems bursting into the mainstream and the lines between the real and the virtual becoming increasingly blurred, the possibilities seem endless.

As a product manager at a top tech firm, you could play a part in these exciting inventions. But exactly what does a product manager do in a tech company? And what skills are top tech firms like Google and Amazon looking for? 

What does a product manager do in tech? 

A product manager in the tech industry is in the driver’s seat of developing innovative new products that can impact user’s daily lives. Responsibilities are wide-ranging, including planning product roadmaps, collaborating with engineers and designers, and analyzing customer data. 

Ishaan Aggarwal is a product manager at Google and MBA graduate from London Business School. He works on Wear OS—the system that powers Google’s smart watches, managing why, where, and how users should be sent different notifications. 

“The idea is: how can we bring value to the user without them employing a lot of cognitive load on themselves, so that they are notified at the right time and place, with the right information,” says Ishaan. 

To create a product that responds to user needs, product managers conduct extensive market research and analysis. Analyzing data and gathering insights can also identify any opportunities and...

n the market. This is especially important in a competitive landscape such as wearable technology. 

As they are responsible for the entire lifecycle of a product, product managers must engage with multiple stakeholders such as designers, engineers, and supply chain managers to ensure the process moves smoothly. They are the central point that brings multiple departments together. 

Vinni Gosain is head of product management for Amazon’s fashion department and also an MBA graduate from London Business School. She works closely with vendors and businesses who sell their products to Amazon. 

“It’s essential we are constantly communicating with our stakeholders in terms of how we are tracking our different products to mitigate any risks or find opportunities to improve the supply chain,” says Vinni. 

READ: Is Technology A Good Career Path?

d044b10670fa4aaf3e3b992958c93413f4e434bb.png ©MIT Sloan / Facebook

Skills to include on a product manager resume 

Given the far-reaching responsibilities of product managers in tech, it’s important to have a dynamic and adaptable skill set to pursue this career path. 

While product managers don’t need to demonstrate a wealth of technical skills, they will frequently liaise with engineers so they should have a grasp of technical language.

“Product managers are like the bridge between the business and the tech teams,” says Vinni. 

Strong communication skills are also essential for presenting product strategies and roadmaps, negotiating budgets, and managing various stakeholder relationships.  

“Be prepared for difficult conversations,” Vinni advises. “Working with multiple stakeholders, sometimes there can be an emotionally charged environment. You will be challenged on why you are making a certain decision, or not making one.” 

In an industry that is constantly rocked by new developments, mindset is just as important as action. 

“As a product manager the most important mindset is one that is user centric and impact driven,” says Ishaan. 

As technology advances, so do the possibilities of what can be created, user’s expectations of the next big product, and the intensity of the industry competition. Product managers therefore need to be one step ahead. 

Regardless of your previous experience, if you can demonstrate these skills on your resume, you can launch a product management career at a top tech firm. 

“Amazon was by far one of the best employers I came across which is agnostic to your background. So, don’t let your past experience stop you from applying to tech companies,” says Vinni.  

Showing your passion and insight into the industry will also help to impress employers. 

David Morris, head of technology and media careers at London Business School, suggests keeping up to date with the latest news and opinions in the sector. 

“Nothing beats getting out to conferences, meet-ups, and other events in the tech eco-system to have in-person meetings, build networks, and gain an understanding of the latest trends,” he says. 

READ: 10 Best MBA Programs For Consulting, Finance & Technology


©Stanford University/ Facebook

Why is product management a top career path for business school grads? 

It’s fair to say that today’s tech industry is completely reshaping our world. Being a product manager in this evolving industry offers a diverse career in which no two days are the same.

“It’s amazing to be a part of building a product which is being used by millions of people to improve their lives for the better,” says Ishaan.  

Product management is a career path that touches all aspects of business—from supply chain, to design, to marketing. With business school students typically graduating with an agile skill set that covers these key areas, grads are well-placed for this career path. This is especially true for those wanting to make a switch into the tech industry. 

“You don’t need to be a techie to work in tech. Companies are interested in transferable skills such as critical thinking and leadership capabilities. These can be built through business school projects with startups and getting involved in the local tech eco-system,” says David. 

It’s also worth mentioning that product managers in tech experience a good degree of work-life balance, says Vinni. 

“As a product manager, you have a lot of control over your day which is contrary to a lot of myths out there,” she adds. 

If you’re starting your job search, it’s important to explore all your options. The tech industry has countless subsectors so do your research to see which roles match your skill set and the companies that align with your values.