Question: What can I do to prepare me for product management consulting?
I’ve been a product manager for a few years and am thinking about eventually working in product management consulting, either on my own or for a product management consulting company. All of my experience has been with only one product and at my current employer. I’m not sure if I need to “branch out” more to be a successful consultant.
There are other products to gain experience on in my current company, but I don’t know if that would be “branching out” enough. Do I need to work on other products and in other industries? What experience and qualifications are helpful for becoming a product management consultant?
Answer from Adrienne Tan of brainmates: Experience working in different industries, on a variety of products and with different people will definitely help grow you as a consultant but the lack of diversity in your employment history should not prevent you from becoming a Product Management consultant.
There are a variety of ways in which you can “upskill” without having to seek new employment opportunities.
I recommend the following:
- Learn a solid Product Management methodology and apply it to your day-to-day Product Management practice and during the Product Development process. This is one of the most important tools in your “kit” that will carry you across a variety of products and industries. My work experience before working as a Product Management consultant was primarily in the telecommunications industry but the methodology that we use in our business has allowed me to consult to banks, software companies, the fashion industry and my favourite, a pizza business.
- Review your current work habits as a Product Manager. Act as a consultant and ask yourself a series of questions. Do you know and understand your customer? If you do, have you developed and managed your product based on your customers’ needs?? Do you understand the value drivers of your product and know which levers you can pull to steer your product in the right direction. You’ll find that by changing hats in your current role, you’ll see your product in a different light.
- Learn about the consulting process. Consulting is different to being a Product Manager. You’ll have 2 roles as a Product Management consultant. You’ll be a Product Manager + a Consultant and you’ll have to learn to be both effectively. Generally, you’ll use the skills of a Product Manager to get the job done but you’ll use the language of a consultant to obtain and deliver information to your client.
- Get a mentor!
- Attend Product Management training. There are quite a few organisations such as Pragmatic Marketing that specialise in Product Management training.
Good luck. I hope this has helped. Be sure to ask yourself why you want to be a Product Management consultant before embarking on this journey. You can only measure your satisfaction as a Product Management consultant if you know the answer to this question.