Pros and Cons of a Global Product Manager Career
A global product manager is responsible for ensuring the success of various products in new and emerging global markets. Read more about the pros and cons of a global product manager career and see if it's right for you.
|Pros of a Career in Global Product Management|
|High earning potential ($105,000 median annual salary in 2015)*|
|Opportunities to earn signing bonuses**|
|Can work virtually anywhere for leading companies**|
|Job security due to influence on a company's revenue***|
|Opportunities for international travel***|
|Cons of a Career in Global Product Management|
|High stress job***|
|Often demands overtime work (19% worked 50 hours per week, according to the most recent data available)***|
|Jobs are highly competitive due to their wide appeal***|
|Work environment can change regularly***|
Source: *Salary.com, **Boston University, ***U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Essential Career Info
Duties and Responsibilities of a Global Product Manager
A global product manager is responsible for ensuring that new products and services introduced into overseas markets are successful and have long-term viability. To ensure this success, the global product manager works with other executives to identify key global markets that are ideal for product penetration. They then oversee the entire product introduction process, from identifying key products that meet consumers' needs in a particular market to making any revisions after a product or service is introduced. Other responsibilities include monitoring market trends, tracking competitors' products and putting strategies in place to promote the growth of certain products.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the employment outlook for marketing managers, which generally includes global product managers, was expected to grow about as fast as the national average as for all other jobs, at 13%, between 2012 and 2022 (www.bls.gov). Global product mangers with an understanding of how traditional advertising and marketing principles apply to the digital world may have the best job prospects. In addition, those with some work experience, such as in advertising or sales, will likely have better chances for securing employment.
Global product managers often work at the top of companies alongside executives to make important decisions that affect a company's revenue stream. This high-level position and all the responsibilities that come with it can translate into high earning potential. According to Salary.com, as of March 2015 the median annual salary of international product and brand managers was roughly $105,000. In addition, the BLS reported that the median annual salary of marketing managers was about $127,000, and that the top ten percent earned over $187,000, as of May 2014.
Most employers require candidates to have bachelor's degrees in a business-related field to be eligible for employment. A bachelor's degree in business administration, marketing or management can be excellent preparation for a career in global product management. Many of these degree programs offer additional areas of concentration, such as in international management. Program curricula should include courses in sales, consumer behavior, international marketing and communications. Employers often desire candidates with work experience as well; look for programs that offer internship opportunities to help meet this requirement.
Job Postings from Real Employers
Global product mangers must be effective leaders to be able to get all components of a product launch synchronized. They must also be highly effective communicators, because they continuously interact with many different departments during all phases of product development. This job also demands patience, since it can take several years and require overcoming many hurdles before a product may be fully launched. To help give you a better idea of the types of skills and requirements employers often look for, following are job advertisements from real employers that were open as of April 2012.
- A chemical company in Houston was seeking a global product management team leader to ensure that profitability goals are met for global business. The job duties involved product sourcing, managing working relationships with key management personnel, communicating global demands, pricing products and managing production activities. Qualifications included a bachelor's degree in business, engineering or science.
- A materials company in Pennsylvania was looking for a senior global marketing manager to shape its marketing initiatives in the Americas region. Duties included analyzing markets and competition, developing product and marketing strategies, developing pricing strategies and ensuring strong relationships with teams and other managers. The company was looking for someone with an ability to negotiate with others, collaborate effectively and adapt to changing and multicultural environments.
- A company based in Michigan was hiring a global product manager to be primarily responsible for the management, financial performance, marketing and strategy of a product segment for their automotive division. Leadership and problem-solving skills were desired; regular travel both domestically and abroad was required.
- An Ohio company that works in the lighting manufacturing industry advertised for a global product manager of intelligent designs to develop plans and global business strategies to increase market shares and promote company growth. A bachelor's degree and eight years of relevant experience was required.
- A manufacturing company in New York posted a position for a new product introduction manager. Qualifications included strong communication, leadership and management skills, as well as good business acumen.
How to Stand Out in the Field
While a bachelor's degree can be sufficient to enter the field, many employers prefer candidates with advanced business degrees because of the high-profile nature of the work and the high level of responsibility this job demands. In particular, many employers prefer candidates with Master of Business Administration (MBA) degrees. Consider earning a MBA with a focus in international business or marketing to remain competitive in the workforce and help advance within the field.
Gain International Experience
Work experience in other countries can be beneficial in this line of work. In addition, some employers may prefer global product managers with knowledge of a foreign language to make penetrating foreign markets and doing business with foreign companies easier. Consider choosing a degree program with study abroad opportunities and supplementing your studies in business with foreign language classes.
Professional societies and organizations commonly offer certifications that can further help you compete for these highly coveted jobs. For instance, the Association of Professionals in Business Management (APBM) offers two levels of certification: the Certified Associate Business Manager and the Certified Business Manager. Certification through the APBM involves completing a series of courses and passing a qualifying exam (www.apbm.org). In addition, the Association of International Product Marketing and Management (AIPMM) offers credentials such as the Certified Product Manager and Certified Product Marketing Manager, which are awarded to those who pass a certifying exam (www.aipmm.com).
Alternative Career Paths
If you'd like to concentrate more on the performance of products after they are introduced into a market, you may consider a career as a sales manager. These workers take new products, determine their profitability potential and identify how sales efforts should be directed in new and existing markets. They also address customer complaints in order to improve customer relations and satisfaction. The BLS expected employment of sales managers to grow at an average rate of 12% from 2010-2020. However, these workers could expect good job prospects during this period because more than 139,000 job openings were expected, according to the BLS. Sales managers will be needed as companies continue to focus on generating new sales and revenue.
Public Relations Managers
If you're interested in product development but want to focus more on communications so that you can interact more with clients and customers, then a career as a public relations manager may be for you. These professionals write, develop and oversee programs aimed to promote a positive public image and maintain good rapport with clients. The BLS expected employment of public relations managers and specialists to grow faster than the national average - at 21% - between 2010 and 2020. Increasing use of social media and other new media outlets, along with a continued need to maintain a good reputation, will drive demand for these workers. However, the BLS expects strong competition among those seeking entry-level work.
Market Research Analysts
Alternatively, you may consider a career as a market research analyst, which involves less direct interaction with clients and customers. Market research analysts monitor and track sales trends and consumer behavior to assess the success or failure of marketing programs. They typically do this by collecting and analyzing data using statistical techniques and then presenting this information through reports, graphs and tables. These workers have some of the best job prospects compared to other occupations. The BLS projected jobs for market research analysts to grow by 41% between 2010 and 2020, which was much faster than the national average. In addition, employment opportunities exist in virtually every industry to help organizations better target their sales efforts and identify potential consumers.