The CEO of a product.
We’ve talked about product managers at The Martec before. It’s a position that those outside of the tech sphere often struggle to understand, but that hasn’t stopped it from becoming the most in-demand and highest paid role in the industry.
Product managers in Australia are absolutely critical to a product’s – and therefore a company’s – success. These professionals are concerned with the what, why, when and how of a product, working closely with multiple teams to develop something that solves a problem or fills a gap.
The demand for the role is increasing exponentially, which is seeing the average product manager salary in Australia doing much the same. So for those interested in this exciting, challenging and fast-developing line of work, what does a product manager career in Australia look like? What do the product management professionals of the future need to be aware of?
Let’s take a look at all you need to know about product management in Australia.
Product manager role, responsibilities & tools
Product managers manage products; this I think we can all agree on. But what constitutes a product, and what constitutes management?
When we talk ‘product,’ we’re talking any technology tool designed with a user in mind. And when we talk management, we’re talking a lot of things.
Product managers are big picture thinkers. While product owners are tasked with directing the development of a product, and product engineers and designers will do the hands-on work, product managers will look after the vision, roadmap and feature definition of the product. The role can be strategic and tactical one minute, and engineering-focused the next.
This is a particularly multi-faceted career. A product manager might be asked to fast-track the development of a product, conduct market research, oversee the marketing campaign, or take responsibility for profit and loss. A product manager will find themselves at the centre of multiple teams, including engineering, marketing, sales and support, and must be skilled in people management and communication. They will also be the touchpoint for an organisation’s C-suite.
In short, the product manager is responsible for guiding the success of a product by managing its stakeholders.
But what does this all translate into in the real world? What does a day in the life of a product manager look like?
At the risk of oversimplifying, the responsibilities of a product manager can be divided into three main groups:
Strategy: What should you build? What shouldn’t you build? As product manager it’s your job to sift through all of the ideas thrown your way and find the gold. Will this suggestion help achieve the product’s goals? Do you have the resources required to action it? Does the end user want or need this feature? These are just some of the strategic questions you’ll need to answer.
You’ll also need to develop a product roadmap to identify where your teams should be focusing their attention, and a market strategy to ensure that the product finds its way to the users that want or need it.
Execution: Once the decisions have been made, they need to be actioned. If a product manager isn’t shipping (delivering new features, fixing glitches, etc.) on a regular basis, they’re not doing their job. Effective execution demands that every one of the individuals under your watch be rowing in the same direction. You’ll need to clearly define what needs to be done, and set firm parameters within which your teams must work (set by time and resource limitations.)
Good product managers make things happen, delivering features fast and in full.
Leadership: A product manager needs to be both a leader and a diplomat. In a role with so many moving parts, the ability to effectively communicate and negotiate with multiple parties is paramount. Product managers will have to work closely and effectively with the following people:
- Executives, to access the necessary resources.
- Designers, to craft a beautiful product.
- Engineers, to build the product.
- Marketers, to generate excitement and demand.
- Customers, to ensure that the product does what it promises.
As a product manager you’ll have a warm noggin, because you’ll be wearing plenty of different hats throughout the day. Your prime responsibility is to get the product shipped, so much of the role is assessing where your teams need help, and filling those gaps.
The breadth of a product manager’s responsibilities is reflected in the breadth of their toolkit. The following tools are commonly used to help perform the duties of the role.
Product roadmapping/management tools are key to developing, communicating and following the path to product delivery. Some of the best include:
Product research tools facilitate the exploration and understanding of the market, as well as user testing. These include:
Wireframing tools enable you to develop blueprints and prototypes of your product, facilitating rapid development. Try:
Measurement and analytics tools offer feedback on the user experience, including the effectiveness of new features and bug fixes. Depending on the analysis you require, you may use:
UX, UI and design tools help you to make the product as beautiful and user friendly as possible. Product managers should acquaint themselves with:
Product manager careers in Australia
As mentioned at the top, despite the fact that the role didn’t really exist just a decade ago, the market for product managers is currently best described as hot.
But the freshness of the role means that there’s no well-trodden path to get into the position. Product managers of today come from a range of professional backgrounds, and bring a broad array of qualifications to the table. In this Sydney Morning Herald article for example, Lyndon Maher, the product manager who has turned real-estate business Domain into a product powerhouse, explains that his journey began with a double degree in business and information systems, before gaining business analysis and other experience in the workforce.
“Product management is such a new field that often applicants don’t have a lot of direct experience,” Maher advises. “There’s no one career path and they’ll often come from a customer service, engineering, marketing, business analysis or design role. I still haven’t come across formal courses that are turning out great product managers. Most product leaders have learnt on the job by working with a great person. Reading a broad range of current books on topics such as analytics, user testing, agile project management and leadership will help you to develop your knowledge.”
As Maher says, most product managers will work their way to the position after dipping their toes in multiple fields of tech. The nature of the role means that previous UX or project management experience in particular is highly prized.
Product manager salaries in Australia
The average product manager is well paid in Australia, earning triple figures – around $101K per year. But the location of the role and the experience you bring to it has an effect on the pay, as demonstrated by the following average salary figures listed by Payscale.
Product manager salary in Sydney, NSW
Entry-level salary: $51K to $126K
Experienced salary: $86K to $156K
Average salary: $101K
Product manager salary in Melbourne, VIC
Entry-level salary: $63K to $124K
Experienced salary: $70K to $155K
Average salary: $107K
Product manager salary in Brisbane, QLD
Range of salary: $56K to $123K
Average salary: $92K
Product manager positions are concentrated in Australia’s tech capitals of Sydney and Melbourne, while there are a smattering of roles available in other state capitals.
How do Australian salaries compare with the rest of the world? Boasting world-renowned tech companies and a strong economy, Australian product managers are well reimbursed when compared to their international counterparts. The one place that a product manager – or indeed any tech professional – will be guaranteed the most bulging of payslips is in Silicon Valley, where (if you’re good enough) you can expect a salary of nearer $220K as a principal product manager.
10 companies currently hiring product managers
One of Australia’s largest media companies, Southern Cross Austereo owns a wealth of radio and television stations across metropolitan and regional Australia. They are currently looking for an Associate Digital Product Manager to join their vibrant team!
Xero has a mission no smaller than ‘rewiring the global economy.’ The cloud-based accounting software platform is on track to reach that goal, having taken the SME market by storm in recent years. The company is on the hunt for a talented Product Manager to be responsible for their practice products, so if you share Xero’s ambition, this position might be for you.
Australia’s biggest tech success is always in the market for top talent. The enterprise software company is currently looking for a Product Manager for its Jira software, and mentions more than a few company perks in the job description.
Why work on Freelancer.com when you can work for Freelancer.com. The global freelancer marketplace and home-grown success story currently needs both a Product Manager and Junior Product Manager “who love pushing the boundaries of tech.”
Another services marketplace, but one that instead connects everyday Australians with experts and businesses. Oneflare also acquired review site Word Of Mouth in 2015, further adding to its value proposition. A Senior Product Manager position is currently open at the company.
The 50/50 partnership between one of Australia’s largest television networks and one of the world’s largest tech companies has thus far proven a fruitful one, and the joint venture hopes that the successful applicant for the currently vacant Media Product Manager role will only accelerate its success. In the company’s own words, “you will be the Yahoo7 Subject Matter Expert for the media touch points across our product suite.”
Australia’s fastest growing start-up isn’t short of positions to fill, with design tool website Canva currently looking for a full time Product Manager for its awesome Sydney offices. According to the company, “The mission of Product Managers at Canva is to create the most accessible design tool for every person in the world,” so if you feel you’re feeling up to the task at Canva Careers, apply now!
This Texas-based tech company specialises in creating ecommerce software for businesses, with over $16 billion worth of sales processed by the BigCommerce platform since its foundation in 2009. The organisation is currently looking for both an Associate Product Manager and a General Application Product Manager to push their products forward.
Product managers at global professional services company Accenture play with some of the most exciting tech in the world – that’s the perk of working for a cutting-edge company with such extensive resources. The APAC arm is always looking for Product Manager talent, so keep a close eye on their careers page.
“We’re Australia’s largest comparison site for a reason,” the self-assured tagline on the finder.com.au homepage reads. That reason is based in the company’s market-leading products, which are crafted with the help of some truly talented Product Managers. If you are “a collaborative teammate with a positive outlook and strong communication skills,” then Finder’s talented stable could include you!
Levelling up: 5 courses to take and 5 sites to follow
A career in product management is the result of years of skill development and knowledge building. While the path to the position is far from clearly defined, and could take any number of routes, professionals certainly aren’t short of opportunities for personal development.
How do you ‘level up’ your skill set? You’ve got two main choices – formal training through structured courses, or informal learning through blogs and resource hubs.
Product manager courses
The following courses will help to both prepare you for the role of product manager, and develop your skill set once you find yourself in the position.
1. Good to Great Product Management
Course provider Zambezi promises its pupils the chance to ‘learn from people who do it.’ One such person is Lyndon Maher, the Domain product manager mentioned in the SMH article above, who saw that no one was offering a solid introduction to the field, so decided to develop this one day program for current and future product managers himself.
2. Product Management by Academy Xi
For those looking for a slightly more in-depth look at product management, Sydney’s Academy Xi run a 10 week course (held 2 nights a week) that covers every aspect of the product manager experience, from business analytics to product marketing.
3. Brainmates Essentials of Product Management
Selling themselves as “Australia’s leading product management experts,” Melbourne-based Brainmates offer a three day intensive course that teaches the basics to product management novices. This course offers the perfect foundation for PMs-to-be – in fact, successful completion will see participants become an Association of International Product Managers and Marketers (AIPMM)-certified product manager!
4. Product Management 101
A three hour event hosted by an industry professional, this lecture gives a bare bones guide to the profession, answering many of the most common and confusing questions that future product managers want answered. And with a ticket price of just $50, this evening of inside knowledge is an absolute steal!
5. Digital Product Management (online)
On the other end of the scale, for the most in-depth look at product management currently available we need to go state-side. Boston University’s online Digital Product Management program covers five courses, each of which takes 6-8 weeks to complete (at 4-8 hours per week). With the US leading the world in product management, this course gives you access to the latest and greatest teachings in the field.
Product manager resources
But product managers aren’t obliged to fill their CVs up with formal training, and it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. For those that enjoy a more laissez-faire learning environment, the following blogs and online resources may prove just as illuminating as a structured course.
Are you about to sit your first interview for a product management position? Such a multi-faceted role could see the interview heading in any number of directions, so scrub up on potential interrogation techniques with this free product manager interview preparation tool.
SVPG is a platform that allows product industry veterans to share their best practices for every stage of the product lifecycle. While their public workshops might be a bit of stretch to get to, the free tools and resources available on the site are invaluable.
A super open, friendly and collaborative product management community, Mind the Product’s mission is to bring together all types of product people – managers, owners, engineers, designers, marketers et al – in the hope of shipping better products. The group even hosts regular meetups, called Product Tanks, in many Australian cities!
4. Rich Mironov
Perhaps the world’s foremost product management consultant, Rich Mironov’s site is choc-full of insights, and PMs who are serious about learning the craft are advised to invest in his seminal tome The Art of Product Management: Lessons from a Silicon Valley Innovator.
5. Product Talk
Run by product coach Teresa Torres, Product Talk does exactly what it says on the packet – it talks all things product. The aim is to help its users to build data-driven, user-focused products, which, through a combination of online resources and live events, it has managed to do successfully for years.
Product management in a nutshell
A new, challenging and all too loosely-defined career awaits product management hopefuls, but the reward for all of this effort is great, both in terms of reimbursement and job satisfaction.
While it’s a position that a select few have the skill set for, those with the persistence, work ethic, intelligence, expertise, soft skills and hard skills are sure to not only drive their own careers forward, but drive forward their team and their organisation.