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My $0.02, having been a PM for many years:

Read Cracking the PM Interview [1] (for an overview of the job, not the actual interview tips) and The Lean Startup [2] (for general philosophy).

35 is a great age for a PM, especially since PM's often start elsewhere -- maturity is a plus here. I'd say there are 3 main ways into it -- as an engineer, who starts to do PM-type stuff on a team where there's no PM. As a designer, who starts to do PM-type stuff on a team where there's no PM. Or as an MBA who has a good sense for engineering and design. Certifications generally don't mean anything -- communication and leadership skills, good judgment, experience and a proven track record are what matter. But all those things can be demonstrated in previous non-PM roles, in order to make the initial switch.

Also, if you want to be a PM then you'd better enjoy meetings, slides, people, and communicating & convincing all day long, day-in day-out. If those make you say an enthusiastic "yes that's me!" then jump right in. If not... you're gonna have a bad time...

[1] https://www.amazon.com/Cracking-PM-Interview-Product-Technol...

[2] https://www.amazon.com/Lean-Startup-Entrepreneurs-Continuous...




> Also, if you want to be a PM then you'd better enjoy meetings, slides, people, and communicating & convincing all day long, day-in day-out

I transitioned from dev to architect. This statement is so true, even more so for PMs.


I’ve always understood that one of the most important pieces of the PM role is to act as a sort of negotiator between design/development and all other stakeholders. Customers and everybody else in the business all want their own things, and all have their own priorities. The good PMs that I’ve known have kept those people happy, managed their expectations well, and mostly shielded design/development from their demands and politics.


35 is a good age as it increases the likelihood that the PM will have parenting experience which provides the benefit of improving expectation mgmt, negotiation, and communication skills to a non-technical audience.


Now that I think about it, a lot of the people I most enjoy working with in the office are parents, and the kind of parents who are obviously really good parents.


I've read how being responsible for family make employees plan their work better because they want to get home for the dinner, how it makes them more responsible or loyal – but that's the first time I hear about parenting experience directly affecting management skills. Some similarities are obvious now that I think about it – you want to help them grow and flourish. You set expectations and put boundaries while avoiding micromanagement and try not to spoil internal gratification with bribes. Well, except firing – you don't fire kids early due to lack of culture fit.


Or the likelihood of developing these skills as a member of successful teams.


Any tips for a dev aspiring to transition to architect?


This is all great info. One additional note. The best way to become a PM is to just start doing the job.

Even if you're on a team with a PM already, offer to write a few of the specs. Or if there's no room to do that, then create a side project where you go through the product development process and show your work. Create sort of a portfolio that demonstrates your abilities.


Pm is really about being customer facing (communication skills, understanding business needs), and being able to make insightful trade offs. Developers can write specs. Spec writing is a plus for pm, but not core.

My suggestion that the best way to crack pm other than comm skills is doing competitive surveys.


Also served as a pm for 5+ years.

I recommend you build and release your own product start to finish. This helps you get exposure to parts you got to avoid in your engineering role.

I see product management as a producer role which includes the successful release and iteration. This is best learned by doing and if you don’t have a team, you be the team.


> Also, if you want to be a PM then you'd better enjoy meetings, slides, people, and communicating & convincing all day long, day-in day-out.

Leave me in my room with my beloved keyboard! I can sense other likely-minded beings over the wire. No slides, no meetings, no politics. Only the austerity of code, measurements, technical merit.


No meetings, no politics? Lots a dev jobs have both don’t they, especially as you become more senior and/or want to drive change in how things are done.


It depends on what you want. If you want some sort of "purity of code", that's great.

If you want more (especially control), you'll never have it. Except for your side projects.


Technical co-founder with controlling equity is the role you meant, not side projects. Like most co-founders of big tech companies nowadays.


Founders of big tech companies deal with politics on a level you can’t imagine.


Asin actual, literal politics. As in, appearing before Congress to convince them why what's good for your company is good for America. And/or sending campaign contributions their way to help with the convincing.

But there's a lot of fun to be had between now and then.


Don’t get carried away, most startups never rise to that level, even fairly big ones.


Such a vision is a fallacy.


Thank you for this. I appreciate it. I like collaboration and working with people to drive projects and get things done. As an IC who has been a tech lead (without direct reports), I haven't had a chance to demonstrate or learn a lot of leadership nuances, but I've recently moved to a scrum master role, and am learning a lot there. I'll definitely read up on the books you suggested. Thank you so much.


You can say it's none of my business, but may I ask you why would you like to change?


I cannot ask for advice and counter with a "none of your business" when asked questions. That's not how any of this works. Thank you for your question.

I can probably write an essay on this, but here's a TLDR version. I do like coding, and will definitely continue working on my side projects. Although programming pays quite well, I'm not sure of the long term payoffs of continuing as a programmer (unless you are one of the Linus Torvalds, or in a similar league - which I am no where close to).

Longer term: I do want to get to a point in my career where I would like to influence product strategy (focus on the whys) a s a VP of Product Management vs. VP of Engineering.

Having said that I do believe I have the skills to be a good PM. I will explore this, and if it's not the right fit, I can switch back.

If you have a completely different perspective, please let me know.


IME if you are going to product for the "money", I think in the long run you're more likely to be disappointed than hit VP of Product. There's just fewer spots in product vs engineering. I think it's much more driven by chance and other factors.

But from an overall career experience, it will likely open new doors for you. Whether those doors are the ones you want remain to be seen.

I also think the vast majority of PM roles are just implementing some Director/VP of Product's wish lists rather than doing much strategy on your own. And hopefully you encounter good product direction, but IME that's few and far in between. Moving up has been much more about adherence to the company's vision/politics than good products/tech.

Plus there's also the interesting dynamic of overall eng/PM relationship within a company. Those can vary from very good to pretty darn toxic.

I don't mean to discourage you from trying. I learned a lot of doing it... but I think it's a tougher path. Depends on your personality and interests. Often it's much more a people job than a tech job, even for very techy products.

To be fair, the product role is also much more varied from company to company (than eng). You may find a place where it is more about the tech and less about company politics.

My bigger question for you is are you at the stage of your (personal) life where you can afford to take a chance on your career. Switching back may not be as easy as you think... especially if you truly embrace the product side (and also depends on what part of tech you're in).

While it may be okay at your present company, IME it's very easy to end up in a wierdo trap of having your feet on two different ships heading in different directions.

I've also got some funny stories about engineering managers who think I've been infected by some disease due to my time in product.

Source: I started my career as engineering IC for several years, moved to product for several, and have now returned to engineering IC for several.


That's interesting, I find myself in a similar position.

I like coding and I like to improve my coding skills and knowledge, but I feel I am more of generalist than a specialist, I am always lurking around HN, PH, IH, looking at products, trying to always get a little bit more about product strategy, marketing, design and UX.

I have considered a transition into a PM role but I'm still not sure I'm quite ready to step away from the developer role, a part of me would like to have an awesome project that I could build my own company around but I'm just not there yet either.

Either way, I'll be lurking the responses in this thread. Good luck with your move.


This is cool, thanks! I myself am mostly okay with dev but I think communication is very important no matter where you are in the process.

Sometimes I feel that I can't influence the product even though I care for it - but then I grow bitter and start a job seeking cycle.


Other book recommendations for preparing to be a PM:

- Decode & Conquer

- Inspired (Marty Cagan)

- Radical Focus (about OKRs)


Thank you


> Also, if you want to be a PM then you'd better enjoy meetings, slides, people, and communicating & convincing all day long, day-in day-out.

For me that's a huge nope, also it's why I love working with a good PM when you're a developer, they're like your partner in crime so to speak!


Can anyone recommend additional books on being a highly effective PM and managing ALL THE THINGS. Thx




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