A table covered with papers showing various colorful charts. Four people, seen from the shoulders-down, stand behind the table, looking at the charts.
Strong communications skills are a must for a head of product, as the person in this role will need to work with and motivate team members while understanding their perspectives. — Getty Images/Ridofranz

The head of product is a corporate title for someone who oversees product development within a company. This person is responsible for creating new products and ensuring that those products are a match for the company’s target audience.

What is a head of product?

A head of product focuses on aligning a company’s product strategy with the overall business strategy. This individual is also responsible for managing the product development team.

As the head of product, your primary function is to ensure the company’s products meet the needs of its customers. To do this, you’ll likely have to work closely with multiple departments throughout the company.

For instance, the head of product is often closely involved in marketing efforts to ensure the customers understand the full range of the product’s benefits. They may also be involved in the design and engineering process.

[Read more: How to Price Your Product: A Step-by-Step Calculation]

Experience and education requirements

A head of product typically has a bachelor’s degree in business or a related field. They may also be experienced in the areas of marketing, communications and management.

While a bachelor’s degree is the minimum requirement, some companies require their product managers to obtain a master’s degree. The exact requirements can vary based on the size of the company and how extensive their product line is.

7 hard and soft skills a head of product needs

The following hard and soft skills will help the head of product meet their job requirements successfully.

Marketing skills

As the head of product, marketing skills are vital since you need to communicate the value of your products. Not only do you need to be able to promote new products successfully, but you need to be able to adapt quickly to changing market demands.

Communication skills

As the head of product, you need to be able to communicate your ideas effectively. First, you need to share your goals and expectations with team members so that the product development stays on track. But you also need to be able to communicate the value proposition to customers clearly.

[Read more: How to Pitch Your Product to a Retailer]

A successful head of product must be comfortable dealing with a bit of uncertainty.

Strategic thinking

To be a successful head of product, you must have the ability to think strategically. You need to think through each step of the product life cycle, from the initial design to how to eventually launch and distribute the product.

Business skills

To develop a successful product strategy, you’ll need to have basic business skills. These skills include things like budgeting, making revenue projections and managing cash flow. And you’ll need to be able to communicate this information with company leadership effectively.

Technical skills

As the head of product, you’ll at least need basic technical skills. However, if your company creates apps or software, you may need more extensive experience in these areas. You need to be able to work with the engineers to identify and solve problems and ensure that the product delivers a positive user experience.

[Read more: What is UX? How to Improve User Experience]

Interpersonal skills

It isn’t possible to develop a product on your own, so the head of product needs strong interpersonal skills. You need to understand how to help others in the company see the vision of the product and how to motivate them to work with you to achieve those goals. Strong interpersonal skills include being able to listen, negotiate and work well with others.

Flexibility

A successful head of product must be comfortable dealing with a bit of uncertainty. The everyday workload will vary, and you need to be able to manage problems as they arise. A successful head of product will have the ability to prioritize based on what’s important at the moment.

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Published August 27, 2021