Product School

Why 2020 Is The Age Of Product Management

Nathan Thomas

Nathan Thomas

January 09, 2023 - 5 min read

Updated: January 24, 2024 - 5 min read

This is a time of extraordinary challenge and extraordinary opportunity. Faced with a global pandemic, companies have been forced to change almost every aspect of how they operate, from supply chain operations to where their employees work. Aiding them in making these changes are technical innovations that would have been unimaginable mere years ago. 

Straddling this divide between challenge and opportunity are Product Managers. Even before the pandemic hit, demand for Product Managers had been growing at a dramatic rate. Now that more businesses are forced to make difficult changes and depend even more heavily on technology, this trend is only increasing.

To understand why Product Managers are in such high demand now, we need to look at what was driving the need for these skills even before the age of Covid-19:

Adoption of Technology Drives Demand for Product Managers

In a 2019 survey, LinkedIn ranked Product Management as one of the most promising jobs of the year, with a 29% year-on-year growth in job openings. 

This surge in demand is driven by three broad trends:

  • Increased need to manage technical products in industries such as logistics, finance, insurance and health care

  • The rapid growth of tech giants such as Amazon, Facebook and Google, who need Product Managers as they grow

  • Acceleration of the number and size of eCommerce businesses as more and more stores adapt to the internet and invest in growing their online presence

Given that the average annual salary of a Sr. Product Manager in the US is $120,000-$140,000 (according to Glassdoor), it is clear that companies are willing to pay top dollar to professionals who can help them stay competitive in an increasingly technical world. And as the world adapts to the impact of the global pandemic, the demand for Product Managers will only increase.

Covid-19 Will Only Accelerate this Surge in Demand

While the analysis described above was conducted before Covid-19, the effects of the pandemic seem to conspire to further increase this demand:

  • Tech firms are growing at a vertiginous speed, driven by increased need for their services during coronavirus-forced lockdowns. As the BBC reports, “Amazon sales soared 40% in the three months ending June [2020], while Apple saw a surge in purchases of its iPhones and other hardware.” As these companies grow, they will hire more Product Managers to manage new products and improvements to existing software.

  • Analysis published by McKinsey shows that the coronavirus pandemic has accelerated digital adoption by major firms by as much as 5 years. As firms transition to a digital world, they will require Product Managers to help them navigate this change.

  • As the pandemic has forced the shuttering of brick & mortar businesses across the world, formerly in-person companies are now becoming eCommerce operations. This drives demand not only for PMs to manage the individual businesses, but also in the many firms that provide the eCommerce, video conference and logistics software that these businesses rely on.

As we have seen, the forces that were driving the increase in demand for Product Managers before the Covid-19 pandemic are only increasing now. But the fact that PMs are in demand is not the only reason why you should consider a career in Product! 

You may also be interested in: Is Product Management For You?

Being a Product Manager is a Deeply Fulfilling and Rewarding Role

While it’s a myth that all Product Managers are former coders, it is true that many people transition into PM roles after successful years working in programming, engineering, design or, indeed, coding. While these roles are well compensated and also in high demand, many professionals eventually feel themselves craving something more. Many of those who transition to a Product role are seeking:

  • Ownership. Being a PM means you own the Product. You get the thrill and satisfaction of seeing something you are responsible for come to life, all the way from idea to reality.

  • Teamwork. Many technical roles such as coder or engineer are collaborative but also quite isolating. Some who have spent years working alone on a laptop all day long for a role with more interaction and a greater “team” dynamic.

  • Leadership. Being a Product Manager allows you to develop and apply leadership skills in a fast-paced, real world environment, something that many career driven professionals strive for.

  • Exposure to other skills. A Product Manager does not have to be an expert at

    every aspect of building and creating a product. But they need to at least have a solid grasp of the vocabulary and principles of areas like coding, design, marketing and finance. Being a PM is a great way to expand your skillstack.

As uncertainty becomes the new norm, firms will increasingly rely on those who are experts at managing change and putting new technology to use. Product Managers have never been in greater demand. If you are looking for a challenging and rewarding new career direction, then maybe you should consider a career in Product!

Updated: January 24, 2024

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