“What Counts” for Success: Understanding the Role of Product Manager and the Implications for Teaching Design Engineering Students

Mark F. Schar and Micah Lande
Center for Design Research
Stanford University
424 Panama Mall Building 560 Stanford, CA 94305-2232
Email: mfschar@stanford.edu, micah@stanford.edu

Abstract
The role of Product Manager within industry is a driving force of innovation. Product Managers are trained as individual contributor engineers, yet evolve into multi- functional managers who lead the business, often through on-the-job training. Drawing on 17 in-depth interviews with Product Management practitioners and recruiters across a range of businesses, a collection of “what counts factors” emerged for success in this position. These characteristics, in turn, are used to define a workshop intervention to better prepare design engineering graduate students to face the challenges of the Product Manager role and succeed.

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