Coding proficiency?

Set to join management consulting after graduation after striking out in tech. I have a very surface-level understanding of Python and SQL. I plan to use my firms resource to really expand my skills.

How proficient do I have to be to make a transition into product management? Any advice on how to improve proficiency? I don’t really find coding to be that interesting but product management does seem fascinating. Can product management still be for me ?


Can’t code to save my life, working as a PM for several years without problems.

What you need though is a bit of understanding of how things are built and a desire for to understand. Problems appear when you’re ignorant towards your developers


People will tell you you need it but I’m a PM who has never written a line of code in his life.


I think it can even be beneficial to not know how to code - it’s important to know what the end result needs to be and what devs need to get it done, but they should be responsible for the code implementation. PMs should know what questions to ask to know whether to push on an opinion or not.


I’ve never written a line of code, but I started being moved into a more technical role and took it upon myself to learn JS. And while I would never write a line of code myself, being able to read JS has been of value.

I definitely wouldn’t say it was critical at all. Just like, cool to be able to do. Especially with technical asks or documentation coming my way.


And ladies and gentlemen, that’s how you know you are working in a job that has low switching cost. Being technical is not just about writing code (code is just a language to express the logic). Being technical is about evaluating tradeoffs. Additionally a lot of jobs require you to read and write code to query elastic search databases to create your own dashboards.

Even a monkey who goes through androids material design or similar documents can be a UI expert. Most PM’s think helping a button become 50% bigger and green to drive traffic is a PMs job.

PS: before anyone mouths about Steve Jobs, I really hope you find your Steve Woz to guide you through.


I’m a PM with a background in data science and there is a shortage of data analysts so I do a lot myself. But I don’t think you need to be properly technical to be a PM although you should understand how technical architectures work at a high level.

I think the PM role is about understanding the user, product and market and then working hard to get shit done. I know more about these things than most other colleagues and that’s where I add value.


I recently had a conversation with a member of this sub about this topic (technical barriers) and my takeaway is that it is very similar to a light language barrier. In some circumstances it can help to have a mutual understanding and usage of certain terms - but it’s not nearly as costly as a real language to learn the basics.

On the otherhand, not knowing the [technical] language can often have its advantages. It requires teams to be explicit in the way they are using terms and also cut the fat to talk about the truly important things.

Not only can this help eliminate domain biases (eliminating bias is a top priority as a PM), but it also mitigates risks from implied mutual agreement on what terms mean. I’ve had plenty of engineers have miscommunication with each other and myself when we think we’re on the same page about technical aspects of the product.

It can help, but I would prioritize tools that will help you build relationships (communication, leadership) and build customer knowledge (research, operations). When it comes to things like scoping effort for a feature or epic, you’ll simply need to develop product judgement through conversations and experience. Even the best engineers have extreme difficulty scoping things they’ve never built.


You need it as much as you need it - there’s no hard and fast rule. Overall, it is (or should be) much more important to be familiar with data analysis tools like PowerBI, Excel and the like than it is to actually know how to script or write SQL.

That said, I write SQL and MongoDB queries every single day to pull data and work on troubleshooting, and I often serve as a triage escalation resource for technical issues, which lets me decide whether to bother our developers or not.

I didn’t join Product Management as a particularly technical guy but I find being able to pull data out myself without going to developers or DBAs is super useful.

It is also useful in the particular context of my team - with regards to working with dev teams I could not agree more with other comments who say that it’s more important to know what the end result should be. Being able to be clear on requirements and success/failure cases when building things should always be your #1 priority.

Being able to contribute with regards to data and programming is great, but it’s important to understand that there is a line you shouldn’t cross to trying to do a developer’s job for them. That’s not how things should work.


It’s not required to know how to write application code as a PM, no. But it can be helpful to know how to write SQL or some other proprietary scripting language for products you may use to munge about with data. Sometimes the scripting “language” can be pretty visual too, so it’ snot too hard.

There are plenty of PM roles where even that isn’t required, and the day-to-day work in most PM roles doesn’t involve writing code in any language. But having some technical proficiency along those lines can save everyone a lot of time. It’s a lot faster if you have a product-related question that you can go get the data for in 15 minutes than needing to find someone you work with who can do it for you.

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Thanks a ton to all of you, have a lot of doubts cleared. So basically, it’s not absolutely necessary to master the coding but it would always help to know how things work.

Thank you once again. God bless all.