MBA & Product Management: How Are They Linked?

Gauri Khatri

Gauri Khatri

Founder, Pegasus Global Consultants

With the changing times, the preferences of MBA graduates about their fields of employments are also changing. Traditional specialisations like investment banking are quickly being replaced by more diverse fields that involve more than one aspect of the industry. Technology is a fan-favorite among MBA graduates, if the statistics related to current times is any indication. In 2012, product management was not even considered a career option for management graduates. By 2016, a large chunk of graduates from the world’s top business schools—like the Harvard Business School, for instance—opted for a career in product management, over the traditional routes.


Why is that the case? And is MBA your golden ticket to an impressive career in product management? Let’s explore


What is product management?

As a fairly new career path, product management is undergoing continuous evolution and improvement. Ben Horowtiz describes a product manager as the ‘CEO of a product’. Essentially, the prime task of a product manager is to ensure that their company delivers the right product to their customers.


As a product manager, your job roles and responsibilities span over a wide variety of tasks; you could be in-charge of developing The Next Big Thing In the Market, or you could be responsible for increasing the revenue by optimising other aspects of business and marketing. In some cases, your job may also be concerned with refinement of customer retention strategies.


To cut the long story short, a career in product management allows you to navigate effortlessly between multiple aspects of a successful business organisation the deals with technology. The flexibility of jobs roles is one of the prime reasons why such a large number of management graduates are attracted to a career in product management.


MBA is not the sure-fire way

An MBA curriculum is designed to teach students in the workings of fields like investment banking, consulting and similar traditional routes. Product management is a new career path, and it is going to take a while before it is integrated into the MBA curriculum as a full-fledged course.


Apart from the academic part of it, there is also the question of employability; not very many companies are going to be recruiting candidates for a course that does not currently exist in the official curriculum.


Therefore, if your reasons for doing an MBA are only to get into product management, you might want to take some time and rethink that choice.


How can MBA help?

The entire curriculum of a management degree may not be relevant to the product management industry, but there will be certain classes that you shall find useful in your future career as a product manager (like negotiation lessons, for instance). Classes like marketing can also go a long way in preparing you for your future job.


And of course, pursuing a management degree from a reputed institution allows you to build a wide and valuable network that propels career growth in significant ways. Alumni networks can help you land jobs in places that aren’t always directly accessible.

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