Would an MBA help Moving from Product Marketing to Product Management ?

Qualtrics Trey
Jan 13 36 Comments

Hey,

I’ve been interested in moving towards product management, primarily at a tech company. I have 6 yoe in product marketing (Microsoft + qualtrics) working closely with PM including being de facto PM on some launches.

In reality, there are many PM roles where you don’t need to be very technical but many companies seem to de facto DQ if you don’t have a comp sci/engineering degree.

Would getting an MBA (non technical) be a significant positive in transitioning to PM?

My thinking is you’re often told to think as a the “ceo of your product/feature”


I’ve interviewed as a PM a few times (Microsoft and Amazon), where I’ve already known the product well or had a good referral but they ultimately passed because I wasn’t “technical”

Any other advice?


Thanks

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TOP 36 Comments
  • Microsoft home sell
    Mate, how would an MBA help you if they turned you down because you weren't technical? You're trying to overcome the non technical perception by becoming extremely non-technical MBA?
    Jan 13 3
    • Qualtrics Trey
      OP
      Super fair feedback.

      I’ve seen tech companies hire MBAs into PM roles, and the thinking for me goes perhaps it helps lean into the stronger “mini ceo” mindset that is encouraged for PM. Effectively, making your strengths even stronger to compensate.

      Most PMs don’t code and barely interact with code, so a strong business sense and customer understanding I think could go far.
      Jan 13
    • Microsoft home sell
      Well, you already have a strong business sense and customer understanding - for products that you use in your daily life. Venturing a guess - marketing automation software, marketing analytics tools and crm add-ons, Adobe creative cloud, ad management platforms, etc.

      Did you try applying for companies were you can "think like" a customer/user? If these specific companies all told you, you need to be more technical - then that's what you should solve for. What are some examples of technical questions you could not answer?
      Jan 13
    • Qualtrics Trey
      OP
      To be honest, that’s the ironic thing. In my PM interviews when I did actually get feedback (rare), a senior leader openly told me “that was one of the best answers to this question I’ve gotten in years” but that it was like “I’d seen a movie on the topic not lived it.”

      They’ve asked way more theoretical questions of how to approach things, 1 was around how Spotify could build tech that could work with with internet drain. The other was how to design a washing machine for South America compared to North America (that’s the one I got the + feedback on)

      Thanks for asking
      Jan 13
  • Uber upptip
    ready to invest a year and $200k in opportunity cost for an MBA, but cannot learn some basic programming for becoming a PM?
    Jan 13 5
    • Qualtrics Trey
      OP
      they’re not mutually exclusive concepts. Most PM interviews don’t include coding in my experience and having others, so a CS degree is more of a check box.

      For me, a grad degree is about a lot of things including considering which doors it may (or may not) open. It’s a question about one of those doors
      Jan 13
    • Microsoft / Product
      Brazuka

      Microsoft Product

      PRE
      Bain & Company
      Brazukamore
      You don't need programming skills per se to be a PM , only ability to converse with devs
      Jan 14
    • Uber upptip
      yeah, you don’t need to leetcode for PM.

      if you never used an restful API or cannot write SQL to get some reports etc., stick marketing.
      Jan 14
    • Microsoft / Product
      Brazuka

      Microsoft Product

      PRE
      Bain & Company
      Brazukamore
      as if writing SQL was that hard of a skill to get.
      Jan 14
    • Qualtrics Trey
      OP
      I learned basic SQL when it was relevant to an earlier job, forgot it when it wasn’t, would learn again if needed :)
      Jan 14
  • Uber dkdueu
    Come to Uber. Most PM here have bachelor in ux design or some other crap
    Jan 13 1
    • Microsoft UMbR31
      Lol. Savage
      Jan 13
  • Cisco / Ops
    PplSkllz

    Cisco Ops

    PRE
    Juniper Networks, Intel
    PplSkllzmore
    Not sure that getting an MBA is going to help when you're being DQ'd for not being technical. Maybe get more exposure to the engineering side of the product at your present company, if possible. At Cisco, PM's report up to engineering, so preference is generally given to those that started their career as engineers, regardless of an MBA.
    Jan 13 1
    • Qualtrics Trey
      OP
      Thanks for the insight
      Jan 13
  • Quantcast tt8675309
    My take is no, it's not necessary. You seem to be close enough that you could transfer internally and just build up your skills on the job or take a few courses.

    The only thing an MBA will help you do is do a summer internship as a pm and if you perform you'd essentially ensure your transition given that your issue is the lack of a technical background. Btw my answer would be different if you were technical trying to transition in. As an MBA might be a faster way in - albeit more expensive.
    Jan 13 1
    • Qualtrics Trey
      OP
      The internship is a good call out, can have them take a chance on you then prove it. But I agree, I’d rather transition internally
      Jan 13
  • Wayfair / Product
    jwxs26

    Wayfair Product

    PRE
    Overstock.com
    jwxs26more
    Jan 14 1
    • Qualtrics Trey
      OP
      Thanks for the good read!
      Jan 14
  • Salesforce
    sEYp56

    Salesforce

    PRE
    Salesforce, DocuSign
    sEYp56more
    In places where being of technical background isn’t a hard requirement - sure it can help. In places where it’s a hard rule then it usually is a hard rule (at least not to the extent a MBA can overcome).

    I’ve years of prod mgmt experience at good companies in successful products, and G/FB still auto shuts me down for not being technical. Others were much more open minded. It’s their rules and doubt its changing anytime soon.
    Jan 13 1
    • Qualtrics Trey
      OP
      Thanks for your examples and advice
      Jan 14
  • Google / Product gswhoops
    A top mba program will feed into several pm programs (Amazon comes to mind as they hire many non technical MBAs into PM). Regardless of whether you get an MBA it's important to identify companies open to non technical PMs. In general e-commerce, social networking, and gaming are receptive to PMs with your background
    Jan 13 2
    • Oracle / Product
      dTCL34

      Oracle Product

      PRE
      Oracle
      dTCL34more
      To be honest, i respect tech a lot, but i dont really see the failure for the pm in their career who is not coming from the tech backgroud...
      Jan 13
    • Qualtrics Trey
      OP
      Thanks for the advice, gswhoops
      Jan 13
  • Microsoft / Product
    Brazuka

    Microsoft Product

    PRE
    Bain & Company
    Brazukamore
    I don't recommend for your case. The MBA might help you later in life to advance to executive level but not as much for this transition. Just move internally, I know PMs at qualtrics with no tech background.
    Jan 14 1
    • Qualtrics Trey
      OP
      Thanks for the advice
      Jan 14
  • Fitbit Wished
    Top tier MBA would definitely help
    Jan 13 1
    • Wayfair / Product
      jwxs26

      Wayfair Product

      PRE
      Overstock.com
      jwxs26more
      I have one, it doesn’t.
      Jan 14
  • New DvVM00
    not really. you need a sort of apprenticeship. if you were de facto PM on a project or two, you need to overstate that fact in your resume and look outside your current company
    Jan 13 0
  • OpenTable Meliodas
    No, you need product experience, not business management theory.
    Jan 13 0
  • Qualtrics / Ops
    qualtricdo

    Qualtrics Ops

    BIO
    Came from non tech to tech.
    qualtricdomore
    You can go be a PM at most companies. Qualtrics is just silly about PM qualifications. I have plenty of friends in tech companies that have zero tech background who are PMs. It will never happen for you at q
    Jan 13 0
  • Merrill Lynch / Product Flow#
    UW offers a course in downtown Seattle / Bellevue - Certificate in Software Product Management, specifically meant for professionals with few years of experience in any area (Tech / Non Tech). It's excellent! You get to build a hypothetical product from scratch, right from strategy, design, development, and taking it to market, and you work in teams. The instructors are great and you learn a lot. It's a good way to learn about PM, and enter into the space. Learning apart, the kind networking opportunity this offers could also help you in finding a PM job!
    Jan 19 1
    • Qualtrics Trey
      OP
      Oh interesting, I’ll need to look it up
      Jan 20
  • This comment was deleted by original commenter.

    • Qualtrics Trey
      OP
      Thanks for the advice
      Jan 18
  • New / Product ProductM
    You can break into a PM role without an MBA as well. Look for APM roles to get a foothold or get referred by someone you know really well.
    Jan 14 1
    • Qualtrics Trey
      OP
      👍
      Jan 14
  • Compass / Product 905
    You’re going to need to take on some pet products to learn the skills and also get out of Q. I don’t think more school is going to be the solution...
    Apr 14 0

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