How to get a PM Role as an MBA Graduate - Blog | Product Management Exercises (2023)

As a new graduate with a Masters in Business Administration (MBA), there are many options available to you. Today, more and more MBA graduates are pursuing careers in technology over more traditional fields: In 2016, 19% of Harvard Business School graduates went into technology, compared to only 1% in 2012. In addition, many of these graduates are attracted to product management because some of the skills learned during an MBA program are transferable.

How to get a PM Role as an MBA Graduate - Blog | Product Management Exercises (1)

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(Video) Product Management PM after MBA - how to get it done!

But how do you get a Product Manager (PM) role as an MBA graduate with little or no experience? We’ll discuss how aspiring PMss with an MBA can do just that. But first, let’s discuss the value of obtaining an MBA – and how it can supplement other skills.

Do you need an MBA to be a Product Manager?

The saying goes, “all roads lead to Rome,” and to that end, there are many paths to becoming a Product Manager. As the “CEO of a product,” PMs are responsible for many different aspects of the product’s strategy and execution in a multidisciplinary fashion, often involving customer interviews, digging into analytics, giving specs to engineers, and coordinating with all parts of the organization to bring a product to life.

While most people don’t go to school to become a product manager, an MBA program can benefit product management because it covers the broad swath of topics and essential skills PMs must have – particularly the development of solid business acumen.

An MBA program is designed to teach you how to identify core competencies and market dynamics to develop a strategy for your organization. MBA students drill down to learn the nuts and bolts of how a company makes decisions, how each department in an organization —such as business, accounting, marketing, and finance— functions, and how each relates to one another.

Product management interacts with the departments, but from a slightly different perspective—through the lens of how to best drive work and execute projects across each of these functional areas.

(Video) Do you need an MBA to break into Product Management?

MBA programs generally consist of three parts, and each has value in the role of a PM:

  1. Frameworks and case studies. For example, the concept of SWOT analyses (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) enables you to craft product strategies that make sense in a competitive landscape. Frameworks and case studies also will help you develop PM critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
  2. Reflections on past experiences. This will help you develop empathy – a must-have for customer or user-centric product development that solves common problems individuals have.
  3. Networking opportunities. Many people say the actual value of an MBA lies in the network it gives you access to. Most schools have a strong culture of alumni helping each other out in terms of career guidance, job referrals, understanding domains, which is helpful for graduates as they enter the job market. Networking will also help you learn how to communicate effectively: a sometimes overlooked “soft skill” that enables you to coordinate complex projects with cross-functional teams.

With an MBA, you’ll understand the entire business, not just one piece of it. It makes it easier to relate to stakeholders’ mindsets in very different roles who have contrasting priorities.

How to get a PM Role as an MBA Graduate? Lean on What You Learned in B-school

If you do not have prior product experience of any kind, an MBA might help you land your first PM job – if you know how to leverage your expertise. Not only can an MBA open the door to moving into the field, but it can also reposition you and make you a more attractive candidate for a position. Your expanded network can also help get you an entry point into different organizations.

  • Some B-schools have alumni-driven Product Management workshops and academic electives that can help you understand the role better and guide you through interview preparation.
  • Your classmates are likely to consist of a wide range of disciplines, including developers, product managers, designers, etc. — learning from a diverse cohort under one roof will offer practical and valuable insights for the role. In addition, getting dedicated interview prep partners is a lot easier in a b-school, which helps much more than any other factor in landing the job. You may even partner with them to work on PM-related side projects, which will give you more experience.

Earlier, we discussed three parts of the MBA curriculum that can be loosely applied to product management. But how do they translate to the day-to-day roles and responsibilities of a product manager? For simplicity, we’ll refer to Shreyas Doshi’s three senses of a PM framework: product knowledge, analytical knowledge, and lastly, execution.

Three essential product management skills learned in an MBA

  1. Developing a “product mindset”

MBA students take a wide range of courses that help with product design thinking, market research, strategy, and behavioral courses that help them understand how people think. They also teach frameworks around pricing psychology, customer research, techniques, and ROI analysis valuable for PMs.

(Video) How Much Do Product Managers Earn In India & US?

Case studies teach strategy, often focusing on what went wrong with a business/strategic decision and why. From critically evaluating an existing growth strategy to being aware of unforeseen disruption, MBAs curriculum helps aspiring PMs keep the “big picture” in mind when making product decisions.

  1. Data-driven decision-making

MBA imbibes structured thinking that helps in breaking down a problem. It exposes you to multiple analytical techniques and tools and educates you about the limitations of those tools.

Developing a solid analytics background can help PMs with problem discovery and answering the question, “Is it worth solving given the current resources/limitations?” In addition, it is critical to understand how a potential product will impact key business metrics – and more importantly, relay this information to leadership.

  1. Execution

Once you have determined what problem you’re solving and whether it is worth solving, you need to execute to get things done. For this, communicating your vision in an appealing way to align all stakeholders is essential for PMs. You also need to be able to manage stakeholders across departments effectively. This includes spending time in meetings dealing with people, understanding their problems, brainstorming, and solving last-mile execution problems.

Other ways to get a PM role as an MBA graduate

  1. Real-world experience

Anyone can put together a product strategy, but can you get it done? Can you work with people? Can you manage the politics of it? That is what you have to do to be a successful product manager.

(Video) Amazon Student Programs: Product Management

One way to gain real-world experience is to look within your current organization and ask to take on any relevant PM work. An even better way is to ask to shadow a PM who works on a product you’re familiar with. As an assistant product manager, learn how to identify problems and craft new initiatives that achieve measurable business outcomes. When you’re ready, ask for junior-level projects that allow you to gain more experience.

  1. Grow your knowledge on your own

In addition to reviewing the extensive list of resources, coaching, and discussion boards at PM Exercises, there are plenty of books that every aspiring PM should read.

  1. Build your own product

Your ability to do this depends significantly on your technical skills, but even non-technical folks can build a product if they can find help. Fortunately, many software engineers are looking to transition into product management, so finding a partner can be as easy as asking someone in your network.

Takeaways: Is an MBA Worth it in Product Management?

Product management encompasses a host of tasks, from product conceptualization to facilitating user testing. An MBA helps with some of these tasks but not all of them. Thus, while it is an MBA that will help you build a strong network and learn useful management and business skills; it is not a golden ticket to becoming a PM.

The best way to become a PM is to demonstrate that you have the skills to take on the challenging role. Preparing for a PM interview is another excellent way to help you learn what’s required as a Product Manager. PM Exercises has an extensive list of interview-prep resources, including self-guided interview questions, online courses, and private coaching to a community of over 30,000 professionals just like you –– all to help you ace your big interview!

(Video) How to prepare for your Microsoft Interview: Program Management

Join our community today and build your product management toolset!

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FAQs

Can I be a project manager with an MBA? ›

In order to progress to a more executive level, project managers may require the business knowledge and training obtained from an MBA. “[An MBA] provides a project manager with additional opportunities for advancement, such as managing larger or more complex projects,” Brennan adds.

How do I become a product manager for MBA? ›

Product managers usually have a degree in technical fields such as engineering and computer sciences, an MBA and a complementary certification within product management. One can also target a product management job through non-tech areas by networking within the firms seeking their expertise.

Which MBA is best for project manager? ›

  • Global MBA (UCA) ...
  • M.B.A. with a major in Process Improvement. ...
  • MBA with a Concentration in Global Business Services. ...
  • Executive MBA in Project Management. ...
  • Master of Business Administration (MBA) ...
  • Master of Business Administration with a specialization in Leadership in Project Management.

Should Project Managers do an MBA? ›

Both can give you a competitive edge in a crowded business world. However, in the current business market, an MS n Project Management may give you an even greater competitive edge. However, if you are looking for a tried-and-true master's degree program that gives a broad overview, an MBA may work best.

Which MBA has highest salary? ›

According to the BLS, some of the highest-paying management occupations related to MBA concentrations include computer and information systems management, financial management, marketing management, and human resources management.

Which topic is best for MBA project? ›

  • Artificial Intelligences US.
  • Blockchain Technology US.
  • Business Analytics US.
  • Data Science US.
  • Digital Marketing US.
  • General US.
  • Management US.
  • Product Management US.
8 Sept 2022

Is an MBA worth it for product manager? ›

Although you currently don't need an MBA to land a job as a product manager, an advanced degree can help get your foot in the door when applying to high-profile companies. An MBA in product management can also help you climb the corporate ladder faster than you would with only a bachelor's degree.

Is product manager a high paying job? ›

To put it simply - a lot! Depending upon the organization you end up working with, Product Management is one of the highest-paying jobs in the corporate world. An Indian MBA graduate can earn a median base salary of ₹ 15.2 lakhs per annum, excluding other salary components like bonuses. But this is just an overview.

Is it tough to become product manager? ›

Is it hard to become a product manager? Because product management blends so many skills and responsibilities, it can be a difficult role to achieve. Product managers often work in other jobs before demonstrating the ability to develop a new product and lead a team.

What is better PMP or Six Sigma? ›

Because of this, both PMP and Six Sigma approaches complement each other. In fact, both methodologies play a key role in a thriving business model. Six Sigma is stronger in achieving better quality outcomes while Project Management Professionals strive to meet a deadline and manage risk.

Which is better PMP or masters in project management? ›

A PMP is superior to a Masters in Project Management. A PMP represents at least 7,500 hours of actual experience leading and directing projects, as well as an objectively assessed degree of theoretical knowledge. In contrast, a Masters in Project Management is almost purely theoretical knowledge.

Which is best PMP or PRINCE2? ›

Also, a few industry sectors prefer PRINCE2® certification, while others prefer the PMP® certification. The PMP® certification is preferred in the USA, Canada, Middle East, and Australia. PRINCE2®, however, is recognized in the UK, Europe, and Australia.

Which MBA specialization is best? ›

Traditionally, finance, marketing, HR, operations, and entrepreneurship are some of the most sought-after and the best MBA specializations and are considered safest by many students.
...
Table of Contents
  • MBA in Digital Marketing.
  • MBA in Business Analytics.
  • MBA in Data Analytics.
  • MBA in Entrepreneurship.
11 Oct 2022

Do you need an MBA to be a VP? ›

The minimum requirement to become a vice president is a bachelor's degree in business management or a related field. However, having an MBA or master's degree in the relevant field and extensive experience in supervisory and managerial roles may boost your chances of becoming a vice president.

Which is better business administration or project management? ›

Project management have a start and end date to complete project and accomplish goal. After than, it just stops till next project is assigned. Business management does not have any end date and goal or objectives might changes. It also focuses on increasing efficiency and productivity.

Which field in MBA has more scope? ›

Ans. MBA in finance, marketing, international business, information technology, & business analytics are some of the highly paid MBA specializations. Ques.

Who earns more MBA or MS? ›

Higher pay scale

The average income for an individual with an MBA program is much higher than a person with an MS program. You can expect to earn a lot when you have an MBA degree.

Which MBA stream pays highly? ›

Investment banking is the one of the highest MBA salary in India you can get. MBA graduates who wish to pursue this career path would have to choose their subjects with a focus on finance.

How do I choose an MBA dissertation? ›

The suggestion is that you should pick an MBA topic you find interesting to explore, provided that topic has sufficient research data to allow you to write clearly and prove your thesis. One thing that stands out about MBA as a course is the diversity in the areas you can explore in your dissertation.

What is MBA final project? ›

An MBA capstone project is the final step in many MBA programs. It's here that MBA students put all that they've learned into practice by analyzing a meaningful and strategic business question.

Do you need an MBA to be a product manager at Google? ›

Skills required to work as a Product Manager at Google

That being said, you don't need to study an MBA in order to work at Google. Technical background. Google is an engineering-driven company and appreciates that product managers are former engineers or have a proven track record working with engineers.

Do product managers have to be creative? ›

Product Manager Job Overview

There's also no other job in the tech industry where you get to be as creative as a product manager. Because you're tasked with coming up with new ideas and turning those ideas into actual products that have never existed before, you need to be creative.

Do you need MBA for product marketing? ›

No, you do not need an MBA to be a product marketing manager. There are several paths towards becoming a product marketing manager, including but not limited to earning an MBA.

Why is product manager salary so high? ›

Some fast growing industries, especially those depending upon technology, have a higher demand for product managers, thus are more likely to pay higher salaries to feed such demand.

How old are most product managers? ›

There are over 41,370 product managers currently employed in the United States. 34.7% of all product managers are women, while 65.3% are men. The average age of an employed product manager is 38 years old.

Is product manager a stressful job? ›

Product Manager Work Environment

A product manager's work environment can be hectic and stressful. This management position requires you to conduct decision-making, problem-solving, and management tasks.

Why do product managers quit? ›

The job of a product manager is challenging, but that's what makes it exciting. However, this is not always the case. And many product managers we asked have listed precisely the lack of challenge and growth opportunities as the main reason why they would quit – 129 to be exact.

How do I become a project manager with no experience? ›

How to get a project management job with no experience
  1. Showcase foundational skills. ...
  2. Sign up with a mentor. ...
  3. Get certified. ...
  4. Find training opportunities. ...
  5. Earn your bachelor's degree. ...
  6. Explore project coordinator positions.

Are product managers happy? ›

Product managers are happy at work (for the most part)

And this happiness isn't limited to their current work of the moment or specific role. Looking into the future, 92% of product managers are happy and want to stick with the field in their next job as well.

Should I get PMP or Six Sigma first? ›

If you want to work as a quality control engineer or process improvement expert, becoming a certified Six Sigma can help you learn new concepts and tools to advance your career. On the other hand, if you want to know how to lead diverse projects in all fields, then PMP® certification would be ideal for you.

Which is better PMP or agile? ›

There is no “Agile PMP vs traditional PMP” certification. Both have incredible professional value, and in fact, the best approach is one in which the project manager or project professional does work to gain knowledge in both traditional and Agile project work.

Is Six Sigma worth it in 2022? ›

Six Sigma Black Belt Certification, even in 2022, can benefit your career in a number of ways. Not only will you qualify for several quality control and business efficiency jobs, you will also gain many skills that will be useful in your career.

Is PMP higher than MBA? ›

Individuals with PMP certifications are immediately identifiable to employers as someone with real skills. PMP certification training provides specialized knowledge that an MBA usually lacks—and this has a higher value in the job market.

Is PMP more valuable than MBA? ›

An MBA is a more prestigious and recognizable degree than a PMP certificate, making it a better choice for those who want to pursue a high-level career in the business industry. An MBA graduate can gain knowledge on many aspects of business administration, which can make it easier to change their career trajectory.

What is the hardest project management certification? ›

Project Management Professional (PMP)

The gold standard in project management certifications, the Project Management Professional certification offered by the PMI is a rigorous test that covers absolutely everything you need to prove your knowledge and skill in managing the “triple constraints”: time, cost, and scope.

Is PRINCE2 still relevant 2022? ›

PRINCE2® is still widely regarded as a standard for project managers, but employers aren't looking for standard anymore; they are looking for stand-out candidates. With more opportunities for project managers across all industries, you will need the knowledge and skills to be prepared for any situation.

Which exam is harder PMP or PRINCE2? ›

PRINCE2 Foundation is easier than PMP and it's unfair to compare them, while PRINCE2 Practitioner is as hard as PMP, or as some people believe, even harder than PMP. The main source for the both Foundation and Practitioner exams is an official publication named “Managing Successful Projects with PRINCE2”.

Which is better PRINCE2 or agile? ›

Prince2 is mainly useful and focuses on higher management levels. Agile on the other hand focuses on lower-level terms. Prince2 is more of a predictive approach while Agile is the more adaptive approach to create perfect software.

Which MBA is best for CEO? ›

Which MBA is best for becoming a CEO? A general MBA from a top business school is a good path to take for aspiring CEOs. However, if you already have a well-rounded business education, earning an MBA in finance or another relevant discipline could also be an effective approach.

What is the most common MBA? ›

MBA Marketing

An MBA in Marketing is one of the most common MBA specializations as marketing roles require more specific business management skills.

Does an MBA increase salary? ›

In fact, in 2021, the average starting salary for MBAs was between 22 percent and 40 percent higher than for bachelor graduates. Overall, 71% of corporate recruiters agree that employees with a business school education earn more at their companies.

Can you make 6 figures with an MBA? ›

Steep increases in salary and generous signing bonuses make the MBA degree a solid investment. Now, it's important to remember that the MBA is not the magic golden ticket to a six-figure salary. The degree itself is not going to earn you the big bucks. However, it will open the door to job opportunities that will.

Can I be a IT manager with an MBA? ›

An MBA can pave the way to an executive-level career in IT. Typical jobs for MBAs include IT director, IT project manager, and IT manager.

Is an MBA required to become a CEO? ›

Every situation is a bit different, but the short answer is most CEOs have at least a bachelor's degree and five years of management experience before they become a CEO. It is also recommended to have an MBA to become a CEO.

Can a MBA graduate be a project manager? ›

A project management MBA can be a great boon to those early in their career. Most disciplines have project managers over a group of team members. The best project managers generally have some experience in the hands-on aspects of the team they're managing.

Is MBA good for project managers? ›

On the other hand, an MBA in project management can help project managers step into high-level leadership positions within various contexts. This focused degree also provides students with finance and managerial competencies essential to overseeing and completing complex projects.

Does an MBA help with project management? ›

In order to progress to a more executive level, project managers may require the business knowledge and training obtained from an MBA. “[An MBA] provides a project manager with additional opportunities for advancement, such as managing larger or more complex projects,” Brennan adds.

What qualifications do you need to be a product manager? ›

Product managers must complete appropriate education before they can be considered for hire. They typically must complete at least a bachelor's degree in business management, or a closely related field. A business background will help them be ready to step into entry-level business and product roles.

How do you become a product manager? ›

How to Become a Product Manager
  1. Create a portfolio of products that showcase your work.
  2. Conduct user and industry research.
  3. Learn about the project management process.
  4. Seek out ways to solve problems in your current role.
  5. Take product management courses.

What are the requirements for product manager? ›

Skills and Qualifications
  • Bachelor's degree in product design or engineering.
  • Strong experience in a dynamic product management role.
  • Proven experience overseeing all elements of the product development lifecycle.
  • Highly effective cross-functional team management.

Can I become a product manager without MBA? ›

That being said, it is absolutely possible to pivot to product management without a formal MBA.

What is the difference between project manager and product manager? ›

While a product manager sets the vision, goals, and business trajectory of a product, a project manager leads the many projects to make those goals a reality. So if the product manager is a strategic thinker, the project manager is more of a doer.

How do I get hired as a manager with no experience? ›

Here are 8 steps to get hired as a manager if you've never managed people before:
  1. Seek out education. ...
  2. Lead a project. ...
  3. Mentor a teammate. ...
  4. Support your supervisor. ...
  5. Revise your resume. ...
  6. Explore internal opportunities. ...
  7. Consider assistant manager roles. ...
  8. Prepare for interviews.
9 Nov 2021

How do I become a product manager without technical background? ›

1. Online Courses. As a product manager with no experience or technical skills, it's important to learn the technical lingo and develop an elementary background in coding. This will help you better understand how to communicate with engineers and become a more successful product manager.

What are the 3 major areas of product management? ›

It identifies the three primary areas of focus for product management, namely: Product discovery. Product Planning. Product Development.

Is product manager a stressful job? ›

Product Manager Work Environment

A product manager's work environment can be hectic and stressful. This management position requires you to conduct decision-making, problem-solving, and management tasks.

How do I become a product manager in 2022? ›

How to become a Product Manager in five steps:
  1. Learn product management fundamentals.
  2. Get familiar with the product management process.
  3. Study your line of business and industry.
  4. Develop your own projects to build product skills.
  5. Create a portfolio of projects to showcase your work.

Who should not become a product manager? ›

If you're the type of person who needs consistency every day, you're probably not ready to be a product manager! Product managers don't have a fixed to-do list. Instead, they're facilitators of building and completing projects. One day you may be involved in planning meetings to flesh out a new product feature.

Why do product managers earn so much? ›

The demand for these professionals is high in the market and many companies pay handsome amounts for this role. That's the primary reason product manager salary in India is quite high.

What does a product manager do day to day? ›

Work with product leadership and company leadership to set product objectives aligned with high-level strategy. Prioritize the most strategically valuable feature ideas. Meet with sales, marketing, legal, and leadership to evaluate the viability of feature ideas.

Can you become a product manager without experience? ›

The exciting thing about product management is that there's no one road to gaining product manager experience. There's no official certification you need to enter this field. There are no barriers to entry – and it's a role where you can make a real tangible impact at your organization.

Is product management a good career? ›

The young professionals having the thought “Is product manager a good career?” should be satisfied that yes it is a very good career. It has numerous employers, across locations and countries. Along with that, it gives a really high compensation that grows even more as one grows in their career.

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3. A day in the life of a Product Manager (Microsoft)
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4. How to build a career in product management (jump to specific segments in the description)
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