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Product Management at Google – By Dinaaz Aga

5 June 2008 6 Comments

In an effort to demistify profiles, I have been running interview shows which focus on a particular profile. Eg: Interviews with Amit Somani and Sean Johnson on the roles and responsibilities of Product Manager. In todays episode of coffee with experts, Dinaaz Aga explains Product Management @ Google. Dinaaz has been leading the PM recruiting efforts. She has played a significant role in expanding the PM organization in Google Bangalore. Its over to Dinaaz Aga.

Every member of the product team is important. To succeed, a company must design, build, test and market the product effectively. There is one role that is absolutely crucial to producing a good product, yet it is often the most misunderstood and underutilized of all the roles. This is the role of the product manager.The first confusion that we often encounter when looking at the product manager role is that it is often referred to by another name, or it is lumped in with another role: program manager, product marketing, project management, engineering management, or sometimes in small companies, a founder or executive.

At Microsoft, and at a few other such companies, the role of product manager as we use it here is known as a program manager. To confuse things further, Microsoft also has a role known as the product manager, but that is what most refer to as product marketing.
We also find some companies using the old-school definition of product manager, which is essentially the brand manager concept from the consumer packaged goods industry. This is primarily the product marketing function under the title of product manager.

Some responsibilities:-

Your job as product manager is to evaluate these product ideas and decide which product ideas are worth pursuing, and which are not. If you do decide to pursue an opportunity, your assessment needs to determine what it will take to succeed. The product manager is responsible for this product strategy and the steps that will get the product from here to there. The strategy and roadmap should reflect the input and buy-in of the full product team, and should be reviewed and approved by the company executives. Its important to note that PM’s manage products and NOT people 🙂 unlike other companies.
He has to represent products internally playing the role of :-
– Evangelism
– Executive Review
– Sales and Marketing
– Work with the UI team to make sure all products are user centric
– Represents Customer

Education required
– Strong CS background is a must, coupled with a MBA is a plus
– Education must be from elite schools with very good CGPA’s
– 5 + years of experience is required with solid on hands PM experience.

Skills required to fit in to this role
– Applying Technology
– Clear focus
– Time management
– Excellent written /verbal/ presentation/ business skills
– Creative with great product insight
– In depth market awareness (PM’s are hired as global PM’s ; hence they should have world wide market awareness and not just for the country they live in)
– Strong analytical skills
– A personality thats strong, composed, dedicated, passionate and some one who has a drive to believe in their idea and always be up for trying something new.

Thanks Dinaaz..Hope you enjoyed this edition of coffee with experts.. You know where to find the other episodes of CWS.. Check out the tab at the top!




  • me said:


  • Vinod said:

    Just happend to bounce across this post & would like to add my feedback about Google’s hiring mess up at least in terms of inviting Entrepreneurs as Product Managers in Google Bangalore.

    In brief I have a 12+yrs hardcore product development experience & to greater extend understand the technology & the business usecase extended towards Enterprise as well as social media apps.

    Now I got interviewed by an expert ( 6+yrs of experience ) who has minimal exposure to the extremes of the Product visualization as well as understanding what is doable & what cannot running high on Im “PM@Google & we can do anything” kind of profile.

    My 2 cents to Dinaaz to make her PM hiring initiatives productive :

    # Do not arrange for a Jr to interview a Sr profile
    # Let an expert who has similar pre Google experience take the first call as the discussions are bound to be in terms of positivity.
    # Do not ask Q’s like ” How many railway boagies are there in India” & insist for an answer.
    # Keep in mind an entrepreneur has tremendous expertise interms of DOING things & DELIVERY & NOT DREAMING ABOUT MARS.
    # If you need DREAMERS then make it clear before hand to avoid issues.

    Rest I think Google has been great but I think its moving towards a slope as SUN Microsys over the years & there does not seem to be any profitable product at Google other than Search.


  • Till the next job said:

    How does HR team or seniors measure/review the Product Manager’s output ?
    Is it solely based on client (end user) satisfaction with the product developed ?

    HOw does one measure the effectivness of the product manager whose product has not yet touched the market?

    I am part of a IT product team that has already taken (invested 😉 3.5 years to build. It is a healthcare billing product for USA hospital market.
    This market has always been a challenge and is largely serviced by legacy systems. Many leading companies like Mckesson, siemens have tried to create products on new technology platforms like java, .net, relational database without much success till date.
    As the financial stakes are quite high , bills amounting to close to 2 trillion USD are created annually by such products, hence sponsors are quite happy to keep on investing in the product till they hit jackpot.

    Since the product is nowhere near completion ,even after 3.5 years we cannot hope to receive customer satisfaction ratings. In this scenario how do you measure the effectiveness of a product manager ? And with the history of failed rewrites, quite possibly this product will fail too.

    How do I, as a product manager still perform well and ensure that I am meeting HR teams and seniors expectations?

    Thank you for any help that you can provide-

  • David Nachum said:

    My name is David Nachum. I am an Associate Product Manager (APM) at Google, in Mountain View, California.

  • spidey said:

    Congrats David.

  • Shubha said:

    Hey Sundar,

    Nice post, I am to get into the same field as a Associate Product Manager with McAfee. The post is really educational in that regard.