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Types of Product Managers: Which Specialization Will Ignite Your Career?

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This post was originally published by Ally Mexicotte on her Medium blog.

A picture of Dan Olsen giving a talk at Mind the Product in San Francisco. This is where I really started asking myself the question “what kind of product manager do I want to be?”

1. 0 to 1 Product Manager

A 0 to 1 product manager is usually launching a new product and is trying to find product-market fit (PMF). Usually these roles are a bit more creative since you’re building something that doesn’t exist yet, and require a strong ability to create structure out of the big, wide open greenfield possibilities.

2. Growth Product Manager

A growth product manager is working on a product that has already found PMF, and is therefore focused on a specific growth metric like activation, adoption, retention, expansion revenue, or referrals. This role can be different from other types of product positions in that it is extremely metrics based (although hopefully all types of PMs are using some level of data) and it’s usually tied to analyzing product marketing funnels to increase conversion rates.

3. Platform Product Manager

Platform product managers are usually responsible for scaling multiple products on a platform. These products can be consumer or enterprise facing (depending on the company), and they’re responsible for prioritizing the work of multiple products while still creating a cohesive experience.

4. Enterprise Product Manager

Enterprise product managers build products for enterprise customers (B2B or B2B2C). You likely won’t see this role at a startup, and it typically means you’ll be working with too-big-to-turn-down customers and require lots of cross-department collaboration.

5. Consumer Product Manager

I think of consumer product managers in juxtaposition to enterprise product managers. Instead of selling to large enterprises, you’re in the hyper-competitive world of selling to individual consumers. This is probably the sexiest type of product management because consumer brands are easy to understand, usually have cool branding, and are more fun to work on than a B2B behind-the-scenes tax software. This also means it’s usually one of the most competitive types of product manager positions to obtain.

6. Technical Product Manager

Technical product engineers are just as they sound — technical. Sometimes they were an engineer before becoming a product manager, and other times it’s just a product manager who loves understanding the technical side of the product.

7. Product Marketing Manager

A product marketing manager (PMM) is responsible for positioning, messaging, and go-to-market strategies for existing products. They work closely with the product management team to understand the features and benefits of the product and develop a narrative that resonates with target customers. They also work with the sales and marketing teams to create and execute marketing plans to promote the product, as well as with the product management team to gather feedback from customers and use it to improve the product.

8. Product Operations Manager

Product operations is a role that focuses on supporting product managers by creating structure and streamlining processes like user interviews, quality assurance (QA) checks, running experiments, managing tools in the product stack, or analyzing data.


When we lump all product roles together, we’re giving up an opportunity to deconstruct what skillsets and frameworks work and don’t work in certain types of environments.