PM in tech company vs non-tech company

Any thoughts and experiences on the difference of working as a PM in a tech company vs PM for a tech product in a non-tech company (where the product you manage is not what customers buy, eg. banking, retail). What are the aspects that you enjoy or find challenging?


At least for APM roles, I noticed that most people who do PM at a non-tech company tend to do so because it’s the only offer they got or because they want to break into PM and it’s better than not having a PM role. (Cough, C1 I’m looking at you). And like SWE at those companies, the pay tends to mirror the diminished value you hold to company leadership.


I’m about to close my first month in as a PM for a tech product in a non-tech company after 8 years of exclusively working in tech companies.

I absolutely hate it, and am already looking to move.

It’s hard to totally describe the “atmosphere”, but some things I’ve observed are: lots of 3-6 month contractors who don’t give a shit about their work or the long-term impact of decisions they are making; a hodge-podge of poorly architected solutions that are super expensive to maintain; the superficial application of agile terminology to the same old waterfall methodologies; extraordinary amounts of bureaucratic red tape and bloat; and finally absolutely no trust in the ability of specialists to just deliver - instead complex and wasteful “reporting” to ensure “budgets” are adhered to (spoiler: they waste an absurd amount of money and those budgets are meaningless).

0/10 would not recommend to anyone, at any time.


In a lot of places it’s a mix of 3-6 months contractors and 10-15-20 years tenured employees that don’t want to change anything.

Also agile. Corporate agile. Tech company (probably) - “just deliver a working product”. Non-tech company - “follow this 27 step standardized agile process, with this 17 step mandatory workflow in Jira, make sure you do a quarterly planning and if you need to change a user story you need a VP approval and run through a steering committee at PMO that meets every other Thursday when moon is in Jupiter. We don’t care that you can’t deliver shit for 3 years, as long as you follow the process”. Also, we’re not going to buy/invest in tooling, all deployments have to be in off hours (middle of the night) and we expect you to be at a standup next morning. Your APM tool is chosen by VP of infrastructure who heard nice things (they took him for a trip to Disney) about this company and whose last experience was managing mainframe in 87. They choose it strictly based on criteria of managing VMs, but you have to use to monitor your apps/APIs as we’re not going to buy anything else and if you buy it from your budget we’re not gonna install it.

Ah, yes, you can’t use cloud as all servers need to be in CMDB and we don’t know how to do this with auto scaling instances or (clutching pearls) serverless.


Hahaha… so true all my old coworkers ask me about roles for scrum master or product owner and how agile is done in big tech and I’m like… we just do the work. Sorry no positions for people who aren’t even technical enough to be a PM


I did PM work at a old school, non-tech company. It was terrible. No investment in tech, not even the mildest understanding of what building tech entailed. And you’ll never be paid as much as you will at a true tech company- that was my experience!


I did PM work at a old school, non-tech company. It was terrible. No investment in tech, not even the mildest understanding of what building tech entailed. And you’ll never be paid as much as you will at a true tech company- that was my experience!

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I don’t recommend it. I was a PM for the consumer facing app at a non tech company and it was horrible. Lots of turnover and contract work, lack of processes or structures that enable you to deliver effectively, funding was done based on projects so we never had any money / time to work on tech debt and there was so much. We were pulled in so many directions by all the different stakeholders and didn’t own our own roadmap essentially. Complete shit show. I am now in a SaaS company and its so amazing, I didn’t even know it could be this good lol.

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Its rough, currently a PM at a financial media company founded around 8 years ago. Still running on WordPress, hacked together systems here and there. Me and a few former colleagues from a start-up joined to theoretically turn it around from a tech perspective and bring it into the 21st century. Nuke WordPress, get analytics up and running both for the tech side as well as marketing/editorial and user experience, etc., etc.

Partly due to being a non-tech company and partly due to being at the whim of what marketing and the CEO want to do and the massive shift to crypto, web 3.0, etc., the priority and must-haves constantly change to the tune of never being able to focus on the core of making the legacy things work. You’re not the true owner of your product or your experience is the biggest thing I’ve found, but that’s largely because we’re a marketing/sales driven organization . Its constantly the whim of what someone else thinks needs to be accomplished to make a $, and unfortunately net new $$$ and retaining current $$$ through user experience or making systems more flexible and resilient for the company as a whole aren’t valued.

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The work, the pay, the growth - will all depend on how key your function & product are to the growth of the firm.

If you are a PM on the key technology product, and the main $ over the next year is expected to come from your work, you can get things you don’t even need. Be it at a tech firm, or a non tech firm betting everything on tech.

If you are working on a product of low perceived importance, either because something else at this tech firm is the darling child, or you are at a non-tech firm that sees tech as a way to support / automate some parts of the non-tech chain, you will need to take on the entire world to get anything aligned.