Where do Product Managers come from?

A total of 100 product managers in Swedish Tech Companies were (“randomly”) selected. We found the following information in their LinkedIN profiles:

Educational background

There is (still) no full academic training for product managers. Some combine business and technical training (eg MSc in Industrial engineering, first an MScEE and then an MBA etc).

Most however – add on their competencies and skills over time.

The survey result is in line with what we at Tolpagorni typically think – most PMs do have a background from various engineering and computer science Universities.

What was your main education?

  • Engineering                       36%
  • Computer science         17%
  • Other                                   48%

What kind of 1st job to look for? 

What is the best choice for a new graduate looking for a career in product management? 

Our little survey doesn’t give a clear result. Or rather – there are many ways leading to Rome.

Having the educational background in mind there is no surprise that many future PMs did find their first position in development.  Personally I think this is indeed a very good choice – having some hands-on experience from the development premises is vital for true understanding of the realities of your future project resources. [Also read: Landing your dream job in Product Management]

Which was your first 1st job in the career

  • Development         27%
  • Sales                           17%
  • Other                         43%
  • PM                               13%

Interestingly more than one out of ten did in fact start their career directly in product management.

If the team of product managers is experienced and big enough to introduce new colleagues this might be a very good idea. With a long term career perspective however it often pays off to spend early years to really learn how to develop (and/or how to sell).

Career paths leading to product management

Where do Directors of PM look when searching for new employees to his/her team?

From my work supporting product management managers, I know most of them are looking for a mix of people with backgrounds in engineering, sales & marketing etc.

Based on working with various tech companies I know there are quite some differences on preferred background in PMs. Some companies are only hiring technology experts from the internal R&D department whereas others wouldn’t accept a PM without proper field training selling their products. [Find your career path via our ISPMA Certified Product Management Trainings

Which was your latest job (prior to the current PM position)

  • Development                                       9%
  • Sales                                                       11%
  • Other                                                     16%
  • Product Management                   66%


To sum it up, Product management has become a true profession. PMs often go from one job to another – still being product managers. The special skills and experiences from Creating insights, Defining strategies, Plan for features in products, Extracting and communicating values – all are useful for most product offerings!
Product Management Role description

There are many more product training at Tolpagorni

Increase your skills and toolbox in any specific area; Product marketing, Value engineering, Strategy, Product Planning or Product Owner. If you are more senior, train to master the complexity of a High Performance Product Manager.

Check all our trainings


About Erik Bjernulf, Profoto

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

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