How to Become a Growth Product Manager

You may have noticed a trend with product management job descriptions recently. The term ‘growth’ seems to be popping up more and more in titles and descriptions of product management job postings, especially within the tech industry. So what exactly is a Growth Product Manager, and what makes it different from a core PM role? And more importantly, how can you land the job?

While product management roles have been growing rapidly for a while, a recent analysis of Google Trends revealed an increase of 425% in average monthly interest in growth product management over the last 5 years. In simpler terms? The role of the Growth Product Manager is on the rise.

What Is a Growth Product Manager?

It’s not just a buzzword; more and more companies are incorporating growth Product Managers into their teams to work alongside core PMs. If this is your first time hearing about this, it might be easy to assume that the role of a Growth Product Manager vs Product Manager is interchangeable. While there are some similarities, there are a few significant differences that set growth Product Managers apart. 

To begin to understand what a growth Product Manager is all about, it can be helpful to look at the origins of the term in the product industry. The term ‘growth hacking’ first started to creep into the vocabulary of product organization professionals throughout the tech industry about a decade ago. Entrepreneur Sean Ellis coined the term in 2010 to describe a new kind of marketing role for startups. “Growth hackers” were becoming increasingly central to startups trying to maximize their early growth phase.

This concept of a marketer that was laser-focused on agility and metrics was Ellis’ answer to traditional marketing professionals. According to Ellis, “Growth hackers” are characterized by a focus on finding ways to build sustainable, repeatable growth quickly. 

Because the word ‘hacking’ has some negative connotations, “growth hacking” gave way to “growth marketing” and the rest was history. Many years later, growth marketing is so common that it has become the gold standard for ‘good marketing’. The line of separation between the traditional and growth marketer is blurred. The expectation has become that all digital marketers utilize the responsive and reactive model of growth marketing to remain in a constant state of optimization.

We can draw a similar conclusion about the sudden appearance of Growth Product Managers. 

What Does a Growth PM Do? 

Still in its infancy, the role of the Growth Product Manager (or Product Growth Manager, as they’re sometimes also called) is a specialized kind of PM that lacks a standardized definition. The responsibilities of the position can vary from company to company, but they all share a few core things in common.

Within organizations that have embraced a product-led growth strategy, traditional Product Managers are being faced with pressure to produce commercial results quickly. While PMs are often great at managing customer relationships and experiences and mapping out plans for further product development on Product Roadmaps, the pressure to fill sales growth quotas and meet short-term targets is not something that always comes naturally. This is where Growth Product Managers come in!

Here are a few of the key responsibilities that make up the GPM role:

  • Work with a dedicated cross-functional team to hit specific goals (think engineers, analysts, and designers)
  • Focus on improving business metrics
  • Identify opportunities for growth and lead the charge on removing barriers to value
  • Prioritization: unlike a traditional PM, the GPM will prioritize iniatives based on their potential for business outcome

Growth Product Manager vs Product Manager

Whereas a traditional Product Manager’s key stakeholder is the customer, a Growth Product Manager’s key stakeholder is the business. A Growth Product Manager will ideally be able to come into a product-led growth environment and work alongside core PMs to focus on improving a specific metric or goal. Similar to the Growth Marketer role, it’s all about finding sustainable, repeatable, and rapid growth. Growth Product Managers will always be more focused on the bigger picture. 

Like a traditional Product Manager, Growth Product Managers are still concerned with customer problems. But where a traditional Product Manager will focus on improving their product and the customer experience, a growth Product Manager will use their understanding of customer problems to prioritize solutions that result in the most significant growth.

Similar to how traditional Product Managers will work with teams to create a Product Roadmap, Growth Product Managers will create a growth strategy plan to acquire new customers by identifying markets, key personas, and demographics, and finding a way to connect them with the most efficient acquisition channels. Depending on the size of the company, Growth PMs may or may not have a cross-functional team of engineers at their disposal.

What Growth Product Manager Skills Do You Need to Succeed?

  1. Analyzing and testing data: Regularly analyzing metrics and data points — such as key product growth — will allow you to track your success and optimize the growth strategy plan accordingly. Because of this, a successful Growth PM will be results-driven and have a keen mind for statistics and analysis.
  2. Problem-solving: A successful GPM should be asking questions constantly about what is and isn’t working. Growth Product Managers use their curiosity and problem-solving mindset to consider how initiatives can be more efficient and more effective. 
  3. Communication and collaboration: because Growth Product Managers will work alongside core Product Managers, there will be situations where Growth PMs and PMs may have to collaborate. Diplomacy and excellent communication skills will help any Growth PM navigate the sometimes tricky waters of inserting yourself into someone else’s project and making suggestions for changes.
  4. Flexibility: Ideal Growth Product Managers embrace flexibility, and are very agile and able to ‘go with the flow.’ The ability to be comfortable in any situation and the willingness to be open-minded and curious about what is and isn’t working will nurture the creativity that Growth Product Managers will benefit from.

Job Posting Examples

Let’s look at a few examples of real GPM job postings to get a better idea of the key roles and responsibilities of a Growth Product Manager.

Facebook

Meta’s job posting for a Product Growth Manager at Facebook explains that the ideal candidate will ideally be very fast-paced and quick-moving as they work with cross-functional teams of engineers, designers, data scientists and researchers to build products. Here are the listed responsibilities of the Growth PM job description:

  • Display strong leadership, organizational and execution skills.
  • Is the primary driver for identifying significant opportunities, and driving product vision, strategies and roadmaps in the context of broader organizational strategies and goals.
  • Incorporate data, research and market analysis to inform product strategies and roadmaps.
  • Maximize efficiency in a constantly evolving environment where the process is fluid and creative solutions are the norm.
  • Drive decision-making through user insights, quantitative analysis and AB testing.
  • Lead the strategy, roadmap and execution of key initiatives and products.
  • Experience of going through a full product lifecycle, integrating customer feedback into product requirements, driving prioritization and pre/post-launch execution.
  • Great attention to detail coupled with the knowledge to see the bigger picture, prioritize competing needs and provide extreme clarity to your team and partners.

In this list, we can see that there is a definite blend of traditional and growth-centred product management duties. Again, because Growth Product Managers are such a relatively new position, the roles and balance of responsibilities will vary from company to company.

DoorDash

For instance, let’s compare the job posting above to this Growth Product Manager job description at DoorDash:

DoorDash Growth Product Manager job description

While the Facebook job posting focused on strategy and the product lifecycle, the DoorDash job description seems to hone in on metrics and research. Both roles highlight the need for efficiency and an ability to manage cross-functional teams.

How to Become a Growth Product Manager

If you feel like you have what it takes to be a Growth Product Manager, there has never been a better time to try. Check out our job board to find postings from great companies, and make sure your resume is polished up and on point. Highlighting any previous experience in growth positions like marketing or sales is great, but just like traditional Product Managers, Growth Product Managers come from all backgrounds. The truly important thing is that your resume is well written and your online branding is up to date and reflecting your best self. 

Once you’ve got that down, we recommend working on your personal pitch and learning more about the company and the job to prepare. If this is something you struggle with, schedule a call with one of our senior advisors and they will be able to help you put your best foot forward. After that, all that is left is to apply!

Of course, following up with recruiters if you haven’t heard back can be a good idea but it’s important to do it the right way.

Adopt a Growth Mindset

It may be the case that eventually, Growth Product Managers will experience the same shift as Growth Marketers before them. As growth product management becomes synonymous with ‘good’ product management, the word ‘growth’ will start to disappear and the norm will become for all Product Managers to expand their scope and skillset. It’s hard to say, but one thing is for sure: growth product management is here to stay. 

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