CHAPTER 17The Head of Product Role

I've written this chapter for three specific audiences:

  1. If you are a CEO or executive recruiter and you're looking for a head of product, this chapter will give you a deeper understanding of what kind of person you should be seeking.
  2. If you are currently leading a product organization, I'd like to offer this up as your key to success.
  3. If you have aspirations of one day leading a product organization, this is a frank discussion of the skills you'll need to acquire.

In this chapter, I use the title VP product to refer to this position, but you'll also find titles ranging from director of product management to chief product officer. Whatever the title may be, I am referring here to your most senior product role in your company or business unit.

Organizationally, this role typically manages the product managers and product designers, sometimes the data analysts, and generally reports to the CEO. With some exceptions, it is important that this role be a peer to the CTO and the VP marketing.

I'll say right up front that this is a difficult role, and it is difficult to perform well. Those who do succeed in it make a dramatic difference for their companies. Great product leaders are highly valued and often go on to found their own companies. In fact, some of the best venture capitalists only invest in founders who have already proved themselves as great product leaders.


Specifically, you are looking for someone who is proved to be ...

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