Do we simply all work entirely different jobs?

Hello, I haven’t been with Product for long. My current position at a sizable international corporation is entirely different from my previous one as a startup, both in terms of scope and actual responsibilities. For instance, I was more of a hybrid PM/PO at the start-up than I am at my present employer, where I can concentrate on market problems and validation by avoiding tasks like backlog grooming, sprint planning, and user story creation.

I’m acquainted with a number of PMs. Our jobs appear to differ MASSIVELY from position to position and from business to business. During my interview, I learned that Apple’s PMs (at least in the department I was considering joining) spend their whole day crafting incredibly detailed user stories for every conceivable edge situation. That sounds like the stuff of nightmares.

And I want to scream when I see so many of my fellow PMs drowning in execution over strategy and being so responsible for the design and engineering of their products (as opposed to accountable). How many of you are planning sprints? or occupying Jira the majority of your time? Or do you oversee capacity planning? Or is there a mismatch in roles between you and your PO?


Given that the position of a PM is rather hazy, I believe the answer is probably: Yes, each of us has a unique job, and each job’s uniqueness changes.

As a result, I’ve always done both strategy (such as market, customer, competitor research, problem scoping and validation) and some tactical work (such as sprint planning, working with capacity vs. responsible for it). I’ve discovered that startup project managers typically juggle PM & PO responsibilities (PO I equate to more of the project management stuff).

Since the technical team agreed to take on the work we planned for a particular release cycle until it was shipped, I haven’t been in charge of what happened. I’ll then have some additional responsibilities, such as writing release post material, updating documents, updating stakeholders/teams, or performing other “housekeeping”-type activities.

Additionally, from what I gather, larger organizations usually do split PM from PO because there is sufficient work, scope, and process to support it.

Just my poorly thought hot take.


What did you mean by “I haven’t been in charge of what happened”?


Throughout the entire process, I work closely with my team and stakeholders, but there is a lot to discuss in our work for just one Reddit comment.

The product and engineering cultures of the firms I’ve worked for (Series A-D startups) were such that Engineering was ultimately in charge of completing the work agreed upon during planning.

That merely means I’m not really responsible of that delivery; it doesn’t mean I walk away and am free to stop working with you.

From OP:

I wrote it this way because I was responding to this situation and because I happen to agree with the idea. Additionally, there is simply too much information to talk about on our employment that I’m sure little nuances will be omitted.


@FlaviaBergstein, For what it’s worth, you’re not describing something particularly awful. This is rather typical for businesses whose PMs concentrate on strategy while someone else is in charge of execution and delivery. We’re not “responsible,” but we are “accountable” for the delivery. According to the PM’s core messaging guide, many companies divide this work up so that more junior PMs manage the execution and delivery, while many other companies will have point individuals from support, marketing, etc. run with their necessary tasks. This activity must be divided since PMs cannot effectively own strategy and execution 90% of the time. Traditionally, PM has been conceived as the Strategic half. I believe your comment fits with that pretty well.


Speaking for myself, I can’t chat through questions that are explicitly about engineering or what’s going on behind the scenes. I ask my PO and Tech Lead to respond to them, and if they have any questions about the “what” and “why” of the feature or product, I have a conversation with them and they will then inform the team. I offer my opinion on use cases, the problems we want to address and why, as well as the relative importance of each item on our roadmap, both planned and unexpected. As they own the “how,” my PO and tech lead are completely empowered and trusted to decide how to develop and deliver the work. If there are any “what/why” questions that have an influence on the “how,” they are also accountable to share them with me so they can lead their teams.


This is precisely why I think it’s absurd that some companies claim to be able to certify you as a “Certified Product Manager.”

I play far too many different roles to even remotely claim that.


@CarolynMiles, the PSPO is meant to assist with the duties of the Product Owner. I considered using it to practice my chops. As a product manager at a small startup, my time is primarily divided between work on product strategy, work with product owners, and work on UX design. quite diverse. Although I haven’t heard of a certified PM course, I believe the function of a PM versus a product owner is too nebulous and inconsistent.


What do you mean by PSPO? Or did you mean CSPO?


Nah, it’s PSPO (Professional Scrum Product Owner) is a different certification from


It’s very simple for various PMs to have varied experiences because the PM rainbow of activities is huge and generally misunderstood.


@RichardsonEva, is there, so to speak, a decent place to learn about everything the whole rainbow? I find that learning about PM and how to fill the function is really difficult and unproductive.


It’s a really big topic. I’ll write up some notes. Where is your passion pointed in all of this?


Wow, thank you. I’m sorry to ask for additional work. In my search for a career path, PM looked to provide both work chances and the possibility that I might not be completely terrible at it. But I find it difficult to comprehend the “corners” of PM so that I can research it. I’ve heard that certificates are both helpful and useless, that regular degrees in PM or boot camps are excellent but completely pointless, and that you need a portfolio, but when I read what people do in theirs, it seems to vary greatly from what I’d anticipate. I’m just searching for some jargon to improve my searches and some fundamental introductory resources (books, blogs, videos, etc.) to learn about what project managers do, how they do it, and how they become project managers/follow their career path to that profession.

I appreciate your support.

1 Like

A position as an Associate PM may be your best option, depending on where you are in your career. It can be challenging to enter into Product Management, and the majority of the people I know either started as Associates or were internally promoted from other teams (internal mobility into PM). The LinkedIn premium learning courses for product management are what I would truly recommend.

I’ll say this: being a project manager, no matter what your duties are, is a really difficult vocation since you have to master the capacity to understand some of the procedures of, and work with, numerous different teams (engineering, support, sales, marketing, etc.). When I’m hiring associate PMs, I’m looking for instances of how they think critically, assess a situation, define the issues and goals, prioritize tasks, and consider various factors. For instance, consider the question, “How many windows do you estimate there are in NYC?” Which candidate responds, "Well, what do you perceive a window to be? the question of glass doors > someone who makes an estimate without explaining how they arrived at it.

In addition, I’ve never had to submit a portfolio for a PM position (nor do I have one).

1 Like

Wow, thank you for your response, that’s actually really helpful info! Honestly everything you say terrifies me the exception of that one example of estimating windows - that I would excel at lol but only because my adhd (and/or potentially just my personality) means I always end up asking clarifying questions and struggle with answering questions that don’t have a lot of detail in them. Or at least I chafe at the idea that such undefined questions have easily estimated answers - those estimates lay on assumptions, and unless we investigate those assumptions we are relying on (un-investigated) confidence rather than fact. I remember getting a question on the exam that asked me to estimate the number of piano tuners in my county, and I immediately had more questions about how one was supposed to estimate that than I did have any earthly idea of how I actually wanna go about estimating that based off the very little information given - the proctor was not happy with my baffled reaction to such an open ended and unanswerable question, but I insisted I needed more info to answer: let’s find how many pianos could exist in the county, which maybe I could estimate by estimating how many homes in the county were above a certain tax bracket (because pianos are expensive), then research how often pianos should be tuned, then assume most people don’t get theirs tuned often (if they even play the piano, which is often either a statement of wealth or a short lived pipe dream about learning to play/your kids learning to play), then ask how long it takes to tune a piano and how much money and how many clients it would take to earn a living as a piano tuner given the number of estimated pianos, and then maybe we can figure out how many full time piano timers the county COULD support, but we’d still be out of luck when it comes to estimating true number unless we figure out whether part time tuning is a part of the equation.

And good god that was rambling. Sorry, I’ve got a head cold and am home from work and got a case of the stupids.

1 Like

Many PMs, including myself, also have ADD. The most essential quality for a PM to possess might be intellectual curiosity. In fact, the example you gave there is in line with the kind of thinking I look for in PMs. In the end, the task is to plan how to use R&D resources (time and money) to develop a product that consumers will want to purchase, and then to ensure that the product is supported by the business and continues to expand. This demands the capacity to delve deeply into issues, pinpoint them, and uncover areas of opportunity. In order to sort of learn which intellectual rabbit holes you want to travel down vs. what you need to know based on the objectives you want to achieve, etc., a PM must learn to refine these instincts as they develop. If I were you, I’d strongly advise you to look for APM positions!