Q&A: I need a product manager with specific experience, can you help?

Q&A: I need a product manager with specific experience, can you help?

Dear Jock,

I need a product manager with specific experience in machine learning and AI, can you help?

Yours,

C

Hi C,

If you’re looking for a product manager to join your team, I’d like to offer some advice:

Good product managers are agnostic of technologies (and markets); they’re more bothered about what user/customer problem they’re trying to solve. Only then do they determine (with their team) what technology will solve that problem most effectively.

If the product you’re building incorporates machine learning and AI, then it shouldn’t make any difference whether your product manager has direct experience in those technologies or not. They may be fashionable at the moment, but in reality they’re already commodity tool sets to solve a particular tech problem, like a development framework or relational database.

After all, teams can start using both AI and machine learning from AWS at relatively low cost without having to develop their own.

If the product you’re building is itself a new machine learning or AI component, then fair enough, I can understand why you’d want a product manager with that specific experience.

The problem you have by constraining your search in that manner is that there are thousands of great product managers out there, but relatively few have the tech experience you’ll be looking for (as is the case whenever specific tech or market experience is required). More likely you’ll find some mediocre product managers, but with the relevant experience.

Most product managers come to a new product, market and set of technologies every time they change job. I work on a freelance basis and see different technologies used pretty much every single time, many of which I’ve never encountered before – but it doesn’t stop me doing my job well as a product manager.

All I’m really suggesting is that you consider looking for a good product manager first, and if you can find one with relevant tech experience, even better, but the relevant experience shouldn’t be a deal-breaker.

All the best,

Jock


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The Practitioner’s Guide to Product Management
by Jock Busuttil

“I wish this book was published when I started out in product management”

Keji A., Head of Product

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Jock is a freelance head of product, author and conference speaker. He has spent nearly two decades working with technology companies to improve their product management practices, from startups to multinationals. His clients include the BBC, University of Cambridge, and the UK's Ministry of Justice and Government Digital Service (GDS).In 2012 Jock founded Product People Limited, a product management consultancy and training company. He is also the author of the popular book The Practitioner's Guide to Product Management and the blog I Manage Products.

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