A Day in the Life: Product Manager - Balance The Grind (2023)

For our Day in the Life series, we look at the daily work habits, schedules and routines from people in a variety of roles and careers around the world.

Yana Yushkina, Product Manager at Google

A Day in the Life: Product Manager - Balance The Grind (1)

Yana Yushkina is a San Francisco-based Product Manager at Google working on Chrome.

Some of her launches include: Chrome’s 10th birthday: New Tab Page redesign, background customization and custom short cuts, Neural Machine Translations for Chrome Browser, Chrome on Android Language Settings and plenty more.

No two days are alike. My job makes me responsible for the overall user experience. This means that I work with software engineers and UX designers to build the right solutions for user pain points and needs.

But that also means that I evangelize the product across the company to make sure that leadership is aware of any bottlenecks or staffing needs, and that other stakeholders are in the loop.

That also means that I partner with other product teams, work with legal, marketing, privacy, security and accessibility stakeholders. All of this amounts to a lot of meetings.

In meeting-free time, I do strategy and feature work: build and amend product roadmaps that match our product mission and the vision for how to accomplish it; write PRDs (product requirements documents) that detail solutions for specific user problems; shepherd features through launch experiments; and eventually lead them to launch.

Alex Reeve, Product Manager at LinkedIn

A Day in the Life: Product Manager - Balance The Grind (2)

Alex Reeve is a San Francisco-based Product Manager at LinkedIn, where he is currently leading enterprise identity, authentication, and integrations for LinkedIn Learning.

(Video) What do product managers do? - Agile Coach

I’m up at around 6am most mornings. The first two priorities are usually exercise and commute, the order of which depends on whether I’m spending the day in San Francisco, or commuting to South Bay.

Every day is a little different. I’m usually at my desk by ~8:30am, with a typical day involving 4-5 hours of meetings, a lot of communication (verbal, Slack, email), and a couple of hours of focused work and/or thinking time. Where possible, I try and pre-schedule my day and batch certain activities (e.g. email).

Some context on the product management (PM) function is probably helpful: while it differs across companies, product management within modern tech companies is often characterized as a “quarterback” role that sits at the intersection of engineering, design, marketing, data science, and any number of other functions. PMs help their team figure out what to build, why, and act as the “connector” that helps them ship successful products.

This materializes as a combination of strategy, prioritization, and execution. In day-to-day practice, this actually involves hundreds of things, but there are some consistent themes: collaborating with other functions, helping create the vision for the product, prioritizing the roadmap, defining product requirements, project management, analysis, meeting with customers, giving presentations, greasing the wheels for your team, and the list goes on.

Owen Wallis, Senior Product Manager at Atlassian

A Day in the Life: Product Manager - Balance The Grind (3)

Owen Wallis is a Senior Product Manager at enterprise collaboration software company, Atlassian, where he works in the Platform group on the Media team.

Every day is different. Roughly it starts like this. Woken up by son sitting on my head. Play LEGO together. Leave home just before 8am. Jump on the train and check Slack and Emails. We have many offices around the world at Atlassian.

I haven’t found there is an expectation to stay online 24/7 (unless you want to). So asynchronous communication is a big thing here. I get into the office and eat. Then try and clear out email and Slack before the ‘normal’ day starts at 9am. Usually I’ll start with team meetings to align on priorities.

Then I’ll carry out similar meetings with teams in the US. I’ll try and do some interviews with internal staff members. There is so much to learn from people here. Then I’ll do interviews with external customers. To build empathy and learn pain points. I have a standup with my tech leads and dev team to run over any blockers or issues we’re facing.

(Video) Day in the Life of an Entrepreneur – Realistic WFH Grind

If I’m feeling a bit ‘peopled out’ I’ll grab lunch then defragment in a quiet room. In the afternoon I try and block time out to work on strategy and vision for my Product. I’ll usually finish the day with 1-1s with peers. I try and head out the office at 5pm. I aim for making sure all Slack messages and emails are dealt with before I go home.

Get home, play with child, glass of wine with wife and chat about the day. Then relax with a computer game or brainless TV. I’m ashamed to say I became addicted to a show calledThe Bachelor.

Raffaela Bethke, Product Manager at Hyper Anna

A Day in the Life: Product Manager - Balance The Grind (4)

Raffaela Bethke is a Product Manager atHyper Anna, an Australian startup that taps into business intelligence and delivers real-time insights from natural language requests.

There is a famous quote from Mike Tyson that I find describes most of my days as a Product Manager so well: “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.”

I’m a morning person, which means I usually get to the office before 8 am (pre-Corona lockdown). This helps me get stuff done before it gets busy and all the distractions of being in an office kick in (my home office distractions? my dog?). I normally start by going through and getting an overview of my day ahead and then come up with a plan and a to-do list.

From then on it becomes a mixture of sticking to the plan and the to-do list and adjusting according to what needs my attention, i.e. the getting punched in the face part.

As dramatic as that sounds, this part is actually one of my favourite parts of being a Product Manager as it keeps me on my toes, forces me to make quick decisions, collaborate with my team and think fast.

Once one of the hectic periods is over, having the to-do list to come back is useful – it helps me refocus.

(Video) THE 9-5 GRIND/work advice&tips, digital agency life, account management, staying organized at work

Luke Hefson, Product Manager at GitHub

A Day in the Life: Product Manager - Balance The Grind (5)

Luke Hefson is a Product Manager at GitHub, the world’s leading software development platform, working on product discovery and direction for GitHub’s flagship code review & project management tools.

I work from home and have young children. This means I haven’t had to regularly use an alarm clock for a long time now! They wake my wife and me up at 6.30ish, and then we all slowly get ready for the day. If I’m not taking the kids to school, then I’m usually sat at the desk in my office-room by 8.30.

At one point I had kicked caffeine – but unfortunately, I fell off the wagon a couple of years back – so I’ll need a cup before I can properly function (I feel sorry for my West Coast USA-based colleagues who do lots of video calls at 9am with Europeans as I rarely have to look fresh that early!)

By 10am, I’ve hit my groove and will be working through my day’s goals/tasks.

As I start early and finish late often – I try to use lunch to take a decent chunk of time off. It’s a great opportunity to go for a run, do some gardening or even go for a surf if there are waves.

I have a hard stop at 6.30pm, but oftentimes I finish up at about 5.30pm. For the most part, I try to avoid looking at work notifications on my phone during the evening.

Daniella Corricelli, Senior Product Manager at VMware

A Day in the Life: Product Manager - Balance The Grind (6)

Daniella Corricelli is a Brooklyn-based Senior Product Manager at VMware, leading projects to improve developer experience for enterprise customers migrating to the cloud.

Every day is different, but usually meeting heavy. I kick-off every day with 9:30 am ‘stand-up’ to sync with my team’s engineers.

(Video) How Did He Become A Product Manager At Microsoft In 40 Days Transitioning From The Service Industry

Then for example today, I had two user interviews, wrote a go-to-market strategy for a product we’re planning to release in a few months, met with a customer to help unblock them through an issue, and shared great feedback to one of my reports.

Around 12:30 pm is when I break for lunch. This usually means grabbing something quick to take up on my building’s roof. I’m based in Brooklyn, New York so outdoor space isn’t particularly common, but rooftops with skyline views are coveted.

Taking my eyes off the screen for that hour has become more necessary now, so I’m lucky I get to enjoy a beautiful view when I do. By 6:00 pm I try to shut things down and start cooking. On most days I’ve stepped away from work and am eating dinner with Jeopardy at 7pm.

Oleh Zaychenko, Senior Product Manager at Splice

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Oleh Zaychenko is a Senior Product Manager atSplice, a New York-based platform for music production offering access to millions of the best royalty-free samples, loops, and presets

Product management is a lovable but weird job! You need to ensure the success of your product without having direct control over it. They say we lead by influence, which is kind of like being Princess Diana – you have no real power, but if you do a good job, people will listen to you. RIP.

This means every day is very different. Typically though, my days consist of getting a download from my team on what they’re working on that day, meeting with my stakeholders to ensure they’re aware of upcoming changes, and meeting with company leadership to ensure they’re aware of the same thing. I have to be able to switch between micro and macro focus on a dime.

If there is ever a production issue, I need to be able to help the team quickly decide how to handle it and ensure we communicate with everyone impacted. Communication can mean the difference between a hiccup and an outage.

And then, of course, I’m constantly planning an iteration, a quarter, and a year ahead. I do this slowly, and it doesn’t happen every day, but without thinking ahead, my team will hit a dead end.

(Video) David Gibson, Product Manager at New Balance

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What is a day in the life of a product manager? ›

Product managers must follow updates in the industry, from new trends in technology to popular marketing strategies. So, they read news/blogs related to their work area and talk to other PMs. Also, they talk to users/customers to sustain their relationships healthily and get feedback about their products.

What is a product manager's responsibility? ›

A product manager is the person who identifies the customer need and the larger business objectives that a product or feature will fulfill, articulates what success looks like for a product, and rallies a team to turn that vision into a reality.

What are top 3 skills for a product manager? ›

Soft Skills
  1. Critical Thinking And Analytical Skills. This is a must-have for any PM. ...
  2. Leadership And The Ability To Take Initiative. As with any management position, leadership skills are important for supporting and motivating your team. ...
  3. Flexibility. ...
  4. Problem-Solving. ...
  5. Time Management. ...
  6. Communication Skills.

Is product manager high paying? ›

Product management is a well-paid job and has a high level of job satisfaction. The product manager's salary is primarily based on years of experience, job location and skills. The average annual salary for product managers can range from $61,000 to $200,000 per year.

Is being a product manager stressful? ›

Every day is different for a product manager. If you like structure and planned sprints for your tasks, product management may be an unpleasant and stressful job for you!

What is the biggest challenge you faced as a product manager? ›

Our research shows that the hardest parts of the job for many product managers are organizational comms, managing deadlines, team alignment, and balancing different responsibilities.

What are the four 4 critical skills of a product managers? ›

So let's discuss them.
  • Great Listening Skills. ...
  • Great Communication Skills. ...
  • Great Organization Skills. ...
  • The Ability to Evangelize Your Product — Especially When You're the Only One Doing So. ...
  • Conclusion: Some of the most important product management skills are soft skills.

What is a good 30 60 90 day plan for managers? ›

The 30 60 90 day plan is designed to help new managers focus on the 3 elements: people, process, and product and helps them prioritize areas of emphasis in the first 30 60 90 days. A 30-60-90 day plan details the targets you plan to accomplish in the first 30, 60, and 90 days of your role.

When should you quit being a product manager? ›

In summary, if you're wondering whether you should quit your job as a Product Manager, take a moment to remember that you have better options and resources available. If the environment is toxic and doesn't serve to challenge you or help you grow, it might be time to leave.

What are the 3 major areas of product management? ›

It identifies the three primary areas of focus for product management, namely: Product discovery. Product Planning. Product Development.

Is product manager a high level role? ›

Product managers are mid-level roles. While you don't necessarily have to have a direct product management background, you should have professional experience and demonstrable skills in communication, leadership, and strategy. Product managers are responsible for the strategy, roadmap, and features of a product.

What is your superpower as a product manager? ›

Superpower 1: Intellectual curiosity

Great product managers are incredibly curious. If something isn't working, they are relentless in trying to understand why. They continually ask questions and zero in on the problem like a heat-seeking missile, but they are rarely satisfied with face-value answers.

What is your greatest strength as a product manager? ›

There are three strengths that employers find particularly attractive in Product Manager candidates: The ability to make the company money. The ability to save the company money. The ability to save the company time.

What are 3 characteristics of a high performing product management team? ›

The Traits of Great Product Managers
  • They are customer obsessed.
  • Over communicate strategy and vision.
  • Partner and influence.
  • They are both strategic and tactical.
  • Utilize data and their intuition to make decisions.
7 Aug 2021

How old is the average product manager? ›

The average age of an employed product manager is 38 years old.

Why is product manager salary so high? ›

Some fast growing industries, especially those depending upon technology, have a higher demand for product managers, thus are more likely to pay higher salaries to feed such demand.

Who is higher than product manager? ›

A Chief Product Officer (CPO) is the most senior product person in an organisation. They usually manage more than one team of product managers and represent product in the C-suite or management team.

Can a shy person be a product manager? ›

Product management is a unique career path in that it involves a broad set of skills and competencies. We believe that all types of personalities can thrive in product management roles if they elect to invest time into finding their strengths.

Is product management a lonely job? ›

Being a product manager is lonely.

A universal aspect of Product Management that people don't expect is just how lonely it feels to be a PM. You could be working with a team of 100 people, be in 10 meetings a day, and yet often feel super-lonely because no one else shares your struggles or truly understands them.

Was Steve Jobs a product manager? ›

As Apple CEO, Steve Jobs involved himself as a de facto product manager by having a hand in the design, direction, vision, and messaging of its most important products, including the iPod.

How do you create a 30-60-90 day plan for a new role? ›

How to write a 30-60-90 day plan
  1. Clarify short- and long-term priorities. Understanding what the role's greater purpose is for the organization will help you define the short-term goals you should set. ...
  2. Set an objective for each phase. ...
  3. Fill in key details.
18 May 2022

How do you create a 30-60-90 day plan for new hires? ›

9 tips for creating a 30-60-90 day plan
  1. Set SMART goals.
  2. Consider what you want your employee to prioritize.
  3. Encourage professional development.
  4. Encourage reflection time.
  5. Outline goals into months: first month, second month, third month.
  6. Ask for input from your employees and direct reports.
17 Jun 2022

How do you make a 30-60-90 plan? ›

An effective 30-60-90 day plan consists of three larger phases — one for days 1-30, one for days 31-60, and one for days 61-90. Each phase has its own goal. For example, the goal in the first 30 days is to learn as much as possible about your new job.

What are the common mistakes of a Product Manager? ›

Avoid these common product management mistakes
  • Following customer requests to a 'T' There's a big difference between what customers want and what they need. ...
  • Focusing on the solution rather than the problem. ...
  • Misunderstanding customer needs. ...
  • Neglecting business opportunities.

How do you survive the hardest part of product management? ›

Ask questions. One of the hardest challenges in product management is getting people aligned—especially if they have different reporting lines and objectives. Here it helps to remember that our job is not to have all the answers—but to ask the best questions.

What do product managers struggle with? ›

Lack of control in product development affects the effectiveness of a product manager. You as a product manager need to take the consensus of all other people associated with the product team before making any major decisions. This is another pain point that a Product manager goes through.

What are the 5 D's in product development? ›

Discover, Design, Develop, Deploy, Deliver TM

This is what we call the “5D vision of Product Management”. Product managers need to consider, plan, and execute in all 5 Dimensions to create great products.

What is the most important role of a product manager? ›

One of the most important skills of a product manager is communication. This is because they need to convince the stakeholders, design teams, clients, and everyone involved in the product's lifecycle. Good communication skills of a product manager can be a big help in the entire lifecycle of a product.

What are the 4 major elements of a product strategy? ›

4 Key Components of Product Strategy
  • Customers. Who is your target customer? ...
  • Competitors. Now that you know who you're selling to, you need to look at the competitors selling to the same target customers. ...
  • Business. Your company's shareholders expect you to make money and provide a return on investment. ...
  • Macro Environment.

What is the 80/20 rule in One Minute Manager? ›

“The old man believes in the 80-20 goal- setting rule. That is, 80% of your really important results will come from 20% of your goals. So we only do One Minute Goal Setting on that 20%, that is, our key areas of responsibility—maybe three to six goals in all.

What should a manager do in the first 3 months? ›

Start building relationships with stakeholders, customers, teams, and direct reports. As you get started, set up recurring meetings with your most important partners to start building relationships and gathering information towards creating a vision and strategy.

Why do product managers fail? ›

Losing Business Focus

Despite all of its advantages, many product managers fail to be effective in such an environment. This often happens when managers are plunged into this unfamiliar environment when they've yet to fully understand this new approach, as well as the changes it brings.

Why is it so hard to be a product manager? ›

Perhaps the hardest part of being a Product Manager is the community-building aspect. A person can have all the qualifications and hard skills needed to be the best Product Manager to date, but without the ability to effectively build relationships across teams and with colleagues, they may never succeed.

Is a product manager job tough? ›

Because product management blends so many skills and responsibilities, it can be a difficult role to achieve. Product managers often work in other jobs before demonstrating the ability to develop a new product and lead a team. It requires persistence, which makes landing the position worthwhile.

What does a product manager do day to day? ›

Work with product leadership and company leadership to set product objectives aligned with high-level strategy. Prioritize the most strategically valuable feature ideas. Meet with sales, marketing, legal, and leadership to evaluate the viability of feature ideas.

What are the 4 product layers? ›

Four Levels of the Product. There are four levels of a product (shown in the figure below): core, tangible, augmented, and promised. Each is important to understand in order to address the customer needs and offer the customer a complete experience.

What makes a product manager successful? ›

The easy answer to this question — “What makes a great product manager?” — would be a list of skills. A long list that would include: subject matter expertise, outstanding communication skills, market knowledge, leadership ability, innovativeness, strong researching skills, the ability to think strategically, etc.

Who is paid higher project VS product manager? ›

Generally, product managers make more than project managers in the US. The average product manager's salary in the US is $111,755 a year, while a project manager in the US makes an average salary of $87,637, according to August 2021 data from Glassdoor.

What's next after product manager? ›

Once a product manager has around 3-5 years of experience under their belt, they can move up to the role of a senior product manager. At this level, you'll be taking on more responsibilities in your role, which include the following: Managing product managers. Managing collaboration across cross functional teams.

How many hours do product managers work daily? ›

It's not uncommon for product managers to work 50, 60, or even 70 hours per week. To-dos pile up and speed is of the essence, so work often spills over into nights and even weekends. The extra hours can help finish an urgent project, but often leave people feeling burnt out and unfulfilled.

Is it stressful being a product manager? ›

With great responsibility, comes great stress. Due to its versatility, the role of a product manager is extremely challenging. Although this career is also very rewarding and fulfilling, it can often be frustrating for many reasons.

Why do product managers quit? ›

Lack of opportunity—There aren't too many product managers content to do their existing job forever; they're looking for chances to advance, take on more responsibility, and expand their skill set.

Who pays the most for product manager? ›

Top companies for Product Managers in United States
  • Meta. 4.1 $171,127per year. 706 reviews18 salaries reported.
  • VMware. 4.1 $165,633per year. 982 reviews21 salaries reported.
  • Boeing. 3.9 $163,697per year. 8,872 reviews26 salaries reported.
  • Google. 4.3 $160,912per year. ...
  • Accenture. 4.0 $158,812per year. ...
  • Show more companies.
6 Nov 2022

How old are most product managers? ›

The average age of an employed product manager is 38 years old.

What is the hardest part of product management? ›

What's the hardest part of product management? Our research shows that the hardest parts of the job for many product managers are organizational comms, managing deadlines, team alignment, and balancing different responsibilities.

Why do product managers earn so much? ›

The demand for these professionals is high in the market and many companies pay handsome amounts for this role. That's the primary reason product manager salary in India is quite high. The ever increasing demand.

What are the disadvantages of being a product manager? ›

Monotony. While product managers do have multiple responsibilities to handle, they tend to work more or less on the same product in the long term, rather than transitioning from assignment to assignment as a project manager does. This makes the job monotonous at times, with the risk of losing interest in the role.

Is product management a hot job? ›

Product management is in the top 10 on Glassdoor's list of America's 50 best jobs (2022). Technology companies take the lead in product management with a 51%recruitment rate. Although we see a little rise in the last years, unemployment rates for product managers are pretty low.

What is the loneliest job in the world? ›

The “loneliest job in the world” is a reference to the presidency of the United States, supposedly a supremely lonely and isolating job because of the enormous responsibility that it entails.

What product managers should avoid? ›

Avoid these common product management mistakes
  • Following customer requests to a 'T' There's a big difference between what customers want and what they need. ...
  • Focusing on the solution rather than the problem. ...
  • Misunderstanding customer needs. ...
  • Neglecting business opportunities.


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