The future of product management in 2024

6 minutes

On Thursday, 30th November 2023, product recruitment specialist, Francesca Jackson, hos...

On Thursday, 30th November 2023, product recruitment specialist, Francesca Jackson, hosted our first product seminar event. As we head towards the end of the year, Francesca brought together an excellent panel to discuss the future of product management. 

Attendees heard from expert product leaders from a range of consumer-facing and business-to-business brands:

Together, they discussed the evolution of product management and the role it plays in organisations, including:

  • How challenges faced in 2023 has impacted product recruitment 
  • How to hire into your product team in 2024
  • AI in product management 

Continue reading for key takeaways from the event.

Challenges faced in 2023

To look forward, it’s always important to start by looking back. Every sector has seen a lot of change over the past 12 months. Unfortunately, challenges in the economy has led to redundancies and uncertainty for many.

Francesca started the conversation by asking our panellists for their thoughts on the impact of the events of 2023 and what this means for the future of product management.

A challenging year for many industries 

The past 12 months have been challenging for almost every industry, according to Hilal Koc Savci. Larger tech companies have unfortunately made large layoffs and smaller companies have been struggling to find funding.

Hilal believes that this is a continued effect from 2020 and the pandemic. This period caused a number of unexpected changes and challenges that is still being felt across hiring, business objectives and strategies. 

Product management recruitment in 2023

Mahesh Ramachandra echoed this sentiment, sharing how organisations have struggled to maintain a clear recruitment strategy in the past couple of years.

“Companies have really seesawed from mass hiring to letting people go and re-structuring."

This approach had a difficult impact on those who experienced redundancy over the past 12 months. Mahesh shared that he was laid off at the beginning of the year. This was made even more difficult to come to terms with, since the company had been hiring aggressively in the recent past. Luckily, it seems that companies have become aware of this mistake.

Faith Forster shared how businesses are now a lot more careful when choosing to hire. For some, this has made it more difficult to find a new role. 

If you’re currently searching for a new product job, our panellists had some recommendations: 

  • Think carefully about how you position yourself and what experience you can bring to a role.
  • Network with business leaders and connect with recruiters who will be able to work closely with you on your search.
  • Recognise the opportunity in the moment and be open to mentorship and consulting roles to advance your career. 

A positive outlook for 2024

Mahesh has a more positive outlook on the market since being made redundant, with lots of opportunities for his company and in a consulting capacity. His optimism was shared among our panellists, each highlighting that there has already been growth in some industries.

“I anticipate it to improve next year, but I think it will still be a slow return."

While it’s impossible to predict how long the full recovery will take, we’re certainly seeing early signs of growth.

Building product teams in 2024

As we look to a stronger economy in 2024, Francesca asked our panellists how they would structure their teams in the new year.

Hiring candidates from different sectors

A frequently asked question from the audience was around Product Managers moving between sectors. In Francesca’s experience recruiting for product jobs, this has become even more difficult this year. She asked our Product Leaders for their thoughts on this trend and whether hiring candidates from outside of your sector is a good option.

With tighter hiring budgets this year, Roland Butler believes it likely that organisations are taking this approach so they have someone who can hit the ground running. Hiring managers are searching for a Product Manager who can replicate what they delivered in their last role.

“I would never look for sector experience in my hiring."

Roland comes from a varied background himself. During his career, he has moved from Product Owner at BMI Research to Head of Product and Technology at Just Eat and, most recently, Head of Product at Zalando. As a result, Roland understands the benefit of hiring across different industries, sharing that this brings diversity of thought to the product roadmap.

“It’s a minimum of six months to understand."

Faith had a different view, however, sharing that in the Financial Services industry, having knowledge of the space is crucial to the success of the team and product. In Faith’s experience, hiring from different industries can cause tensions between engineering teams who know the product inside-out and those who do not.

Skills to prioritise when hiring for Product Managers

Hilal raised a compromise between both contrasting views, highlighting the importance of understanding the customer. 

If you’re a Product Manager looking to move between industries, you should consider whether you can understand the customer and their pain points. With this knowledge, you should be able to hit the ground running and contribute to the product roadmap, no matter your background.

“Proven leaders will apply past principles which can result in a lack of adaptability."

According to Hilal, hiring from a multitude of industries will allow your product team to be more agile in thinking, decisions and strategies. As a result, in the long term, generalist Product Managers will deliver more impact.

Learning and development opportunities

A key factor in hiring Product Managers in 2024 will be presenting learning and development opportunities. We understand that these can be costly, however, so Francesca asked our panellists for their thoughts on how product talent can upskill:

  • On the job training – once your team has identified which skills they would like to upskill in, you can match them to projects that will allow them to develop these skills naturally.
  • Attending events – there are an abundance of free product events in London that you can share with your team. This gives the opportunity to informally upskill and network with others in the product space.
  • Soft skills – training doesn’t always need to be focussed on product skills. How and where can you improve on your presentation and communication skills, for example?

If you're a Product Manager looking for a new role in 2024, watch our video on the skills you need to be upskilling in.

Artificial intelligence in product management

From previous conversations, it’s clear to see that teams and companies are at different stages of understanding and adopting artificial intelligence. Francesca asked our panellists their thoughts on the tools available and whether or not it’s too late to add AI to your product roadmap.

Our Product Leaders addressed two parts about artificial intelligence in product management:

  1. AI in a Product Management role
  2. Building AI into your product

Using AI in a Product Management role

Mahesh kicked off the conversation by saying that all Product Managers should be using and learning about artificial intelligence.

“As a Product Manager, AI should be in your toolkit."

There are a number of benefits to using AI in your role. From brainstorming initial ideas to market research, artificial intelligence is going to simplify and enhance Product Managers’ workflows.

Building AI into your product

Artificial intelligence is changing constantly. With new features being released every week, it can be tricky to stay up to date with the latest innovations and make sure your product isn’t being left behind. 

“It’s definitely not too late.”

Mahesh suggested looking at artificial intelligence in the long term, considering how the software might be used in the future of your product. This mind set is better to adopt than simply just plugging AI into your product in its present form.

With this in mind, Mahesh and Roland agreed that it is certainly not too late to adopt artificial intelligence.

A big thank you to our Product Leaders

We want to finish by thanking Faith, Mahesh, Hilal and Roland for sharing your time and expertise with us. It was a truly insightful morning with strong ambitions for the new year.

If you’d like to join us at our next Product event, be sure to register your details below.

For product management recruitment in 2024, get in touch

We're incredibly excited to continue supporting excellent organisations with their hiring needs throughout 2024. If you’re looking to add to your product team in the new year, get in touch with our specialist recruiters and upload your vacancy here

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