Bigger and Better – Product Management Survey Results 2016

BY Simon Cast ON DECEMBER 8, 2016

Our universe is expanding. More than 1,200 of you took part in this year’s Product Manager survey, double the number who took part in our survey three years ago. It’s growth that is mirrored throughout the product manager community, and we see the effects directly at Mind The Product – in the increasing number and greater popularity of our conferences, ProductTank meetups, and in subscriptions to our hand-curated newsletter.

Closing the gender gap

And like any other expanded community this year’s survey results bear witness to a greater diversity. There now look to be more women in a product management role. We see a 7% increase in the proportion of female product managers in the last three years, and they now account for 35% of respondents. This growth reflects our own experience and anecdotal evidence over the last three years, and Marty Cagan’s keynote at this year’s #MTPCon London really highlighted the fact that we should be working even harder to build more diversity into our product teams.

Our survey respondents are now more geographically diverse than they were three years ago: while the majority still come from the UK and North America, this year we can also throw South America, Africa and the Middle East into the mix. We believe this reflects the development of the product management community and greater recognition of the role that product managers can play within a business, rather than being due entirely to expansion in the reach of MTP.

Geographic spread of product people in 2016

More seniority

In this year’s survey 38% of respondents had a Product Manager job title, down from 46% in 2013. The number of Senior Product Managers responding this year rose to 18%, up from 15% three years ago. Median experience in 2016 is four years, and is unchanged from 2013, but mean experience, as you might expect from the increased proportion of more senior respondents, has risen from 5 years to 5.4 years.

Job title spread of product people in 2016

Salaries have gone up in the past three years, although we think that the salary data for 2016 is a little “noisy”. Globally, the average salary for a Junior Product Manager in 2016 is $54,700, up from $47,400 in 2013. The average salary for a Product Manager in 2016 is $82,900, up from $77,600 in 2013. The jump in salary between Junior Product Manager and Product Manager remains large – at around $30,000 – as it has been in previous years. Salary levels for Head of Product and Senior Product Manager are again broadly similar this year. In the past we have assumed that this is because there is little or no differentiation between these two roles, but alternative theories are very welcome in the comments!

Equity and lines of reporting

Equity shares remain a popular means of remuneration. Overall in 2016 49% of product managers are receiving a share in the equity of the business as part of their remuneration package – up from 42% in 2013.  In 2016, 42% of UK respondents receive equity as part of their remuneration package, in the US this figure is 59%. Remuneration for product managers in the US is higher than elsewhere.

How much equity are product people getting in 2016?

There have been changes to lines of reporting for product managers in the last three years. More product managers now report directly to the board or CEO, and fewer report either to the VP of marketing /CMO or different business owners than three years ago. Specifically, in 2013 49% of product managers reported directly to the CEO or board, whereas in 2016, 56% of product managers report directly to the CEO or board. In 2013 9% of product managers were part of marketing and 15% reported to different business owners whereas in 2016 the percentages are 6% and 11% respectively. Does this mean that product management is becoming more widely recognised as a distinct and important discipline?

This year’s distribution of company size shows most of the respondents coming from companies between 50 and 500 employees. The distribution of company size in 2016 follows a similar pattern to previous years – with a drop in the number of respondents in companies between 500 and 1,000 employees, and then rising again for again for companies between 1,000 and 10,000 employees. As in previous years we see no obvious explanation for this.

In summary

The product management community is expanding and maturing. The gender gap is closing, our salaries are going up, our collective experience is increasing, and product managers are reporting in greater numbers directly through a product management function in their organisations. This all points, we believe, to product management being more generally recognised as a distinct and vital discipline – or as our co-founder Martin put it at this year’s #mtpcon London – product management is more important than ever.

Let us know in the comments how the survey data and our interpretation reflects your reality and your organisation – or what you think will change in 2017!

About

Simon Cast

Co-founder of ProdPad and Mind the Product who run ProductTank, ProductCamp London and Mind the Product conferences in London and San Francisco. Blogs about Product Management at MindTheProduct.com & ProdPad.com. Simon began his career in Space Engineering, where he developed a Fortran realtime program to automate satellite operations. He then traveled around the world before a stint in the Australian Army.

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