How to transit from PD to PM

How can a Product Designer transit into Product Management…What are the necessary skills to take upon transiting.


@benjaminosagie24 Welcome to Prowess!

This is an important question to ask as you start the transition process. I am going to give a sense of what would look good from an employer’s point of view and how Prowess can help you reach that level.

First of all, I would start thinking in terms of skills you have and skills you need to be a PM.

I think a PM needs to have the following skills

  1. Communication
  2. Strategy
  3. Design
  4. Technology
  5. Execution
  6. Go to market

The importance of these skills varies based on the type of role you get. A technical PM would require more technical skills than a consumer PM. You can set your career goals on goals to know exactly the skills you need for your target role.

What do designers bring to the table?
A lot IMO. They have strong user empathy and deep technical skills in building seamless user experiences. This is one of those skills that many PMs lack and designers could leverage that to grow into a PM role. If I was hiring, I would drill on a designer’s business skills, especially strategy, execution, and go-to-market skills. If you have been working as an IC without leading teams or building consensus, I would really like to know if you can bring a team together and lead without authority.

I am not sure about your exact background so you will have to honestly ask yourself which of the above skill categories you are good in and which ones do you need to get better in. After that analysis, I would start learning and more importantly applying your learning by doing projects (building things). This will do two things for you - 1) You will grow your skillset, and 2) You will know whether you actually like the work. The second one is very important as you go through the process of changing careers.

There is no dearth of learning content and certifications online. Everybody is getting certificates nowadays from a wide variety of providers. If I were you, I would focus on differentiating yourself by showing your work instead of consuming content (show don’t tell approach). The first one is harder but the payoffs are better.

A product manager’s main job is to understand the customer and bring the team together to build something people want. If I were you, I would look at the following 3 ways to get going -

  1. Shadow a PM at your company and learn with them to become a product manager. Just ask for tasks you could do on a project and own them fully and present it to the right stakeholders.
  2. Start something on your own. Figure out a problem you care about and go through the whole process of building it. Analysis → Design → Development. You will stand out compared to others
  3. Build skills you lack to be a PM, start learning online by taking courses or just articles.

Prowess is designed to help you go through this process in the following ways -

  1. Know target skills by setting career goals
  2. Learn from curated resources
  3. Build by working on curated projects
  4. Collaborate by working on group projects
  5. Participate in this community
  6. Apply to jobs via the jobs board

I hope this helps!


You can transition from being a product designer to product management if you are prepared, have the right mindset and are willing to develop the right skills for the job.

Many product designers try to swap out their PD hat for a PM position instead.

But those who are successful look at the key characteristics of an effective, capable product manager before switching career paths.

Successful product managers are ready for a creative challenge.
Many PD professionals can find themselves creatively stagnant working only on one product.

Those who want to move into product management may find that the constant creative challenge will be enough to keep their creative juices flowing longer.

They can lead a team rather than just being part of a team.
Of course, many PD professionals may have shown leadership in their current positions.

As a PM, excellent communication skills and leadership will be an expected part of the position.

If you are coming from PD and are a capable leader with the ability to communicate effectively, you’ll have a much easier time with the transition from product design to product management.

Good product managers can strategize and see the bigger picture.
An effective product manager will be comfortable looking at the bigger picture to uncover priorities, the scope of products and the challenges it presents.

You should be ready and comfortable with this mindset shift.

1 Like