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Product managers are charged with overseeing the development of a product, from the whiteboard stage to its final execution. They often conduct market research while creating time-integrated production plans. Product managers may also be responsible for developing or overseeing market strategies. Product managers typically work alongside a design and marketing team. Depending on the nature and scope of the product, the position may require that managers make frequent trips to meet with different teams and sub-contractors. Other duties of a product manager may include comparing products with their immediate competition, assessing market data, defining the objectives of the marketing team and potentially revising product specifications or suggesting new ideas.
Product managers work closely with senior management. They provide regular updates, special reports and long- and short-term sales forecasts. They also present their ideas and strategies to board members, spelling out the potential gain and possible risks. In some industries, product management professionals may be responsible for assigning employees specific tasks and managing production schedules. In addition to being familiar with the industry, product managers must have good leadership skills. Many product managers have a wide personal network that they can call on during the planning and marketing stage. They may also be members of professional associations. While there is no specific educational path to a career in product management, having a degree in business management, human resources or contract procurement provides a solid foundation for most industries.