Does it make any difference who the (product) manager is?


Skills sets required from a successful Product Manager

In an article in Ny Teknik from Sept 7th 2016 mini_ceo_text-761457-edited.jpgHelen Ahlbom is looking for the new CEO of Ericsson. Sometimes we see that the Product Manager (PM) role is described as a “mini-CEO”. Even if this comparison is not entirely accurate it would be interesting to compare the requirements!

Helen starts by arguing that during her career as a journalist she had 9 bosses. Did they really make a difference – or is it up to the team to deliver? Her conclusion is that – in daily life it might not be so important but long term there is a huge impact.

So what about Helen’s requirement on the new CEO?

Courage to take decisions
I would say this is indeed spot-on for the PM. Say no to “stupid” requirements. Invest available budget in R&D OR marketing OR … (depending on situation) etc …

Understand the rapid technology evolution
Necessary to build trust towards the internal R&D organization. This is part of one of the four key PM processes – Insight.

Develop vision to an implementable strategy
Absolutely the core of Product Management. Define strategies that support going in the right direction step by step.

Inspire employees with own competence
Again – maybe even more important for the PM (not having the authority of the CEO). Domain knowledge is king.

Manage demanding customers
OK, I’ll include also sales channel representatives in this one. Certainly true.

Sell the brand to the world
Maybe not the brand for the average PM but certainly the benefits of HER/HIS product!

Attract the new generation
Absolutely vital for all PM’s. To make sure (young) R&D teams distributed globally will find it an honor to work with you.

Impress the financial analytics community
This one would be unusual for the average PM I have to admit. However – in the small company the PM will have to impress the investors with product storytelling.

Manage CSR
Well, certainly not core to any PM. However – PMs are often active in the Product Ecosystem. Co-operation with research institutes etc.

Charming media
Check out media and you’ll see a growing number of companies giving PMs a leading role in presenting their story. In particular this is true for SW startups.

Listen to other voices
Only having colleagues saying “yes” is never a good idea. This is true both for the CEO and the PM.


The title “Mini-CEO” might not be that bad for a PM. Looking at the skill set required for the CEO of a global multinational and a PM show a remarkable similarity between the two!

Product Management Role description

About The Author

Erik has extensive experience in product management, business management and development. Within the software, electronics and hardware, Erik has pursued commercial success.