Why This Ex-Facebook Engineer Thinks Non-Technical Product Managers Are Awesome (Oh and He’s Hiring)

What Leadership Roles at Facebook & YouTube Taught Rushabh Doshi About Building Product Teams

What do I hope happens when I write a blog post? Lots of people to read it? Sure, I guess. But the dream is really smart responses from folks who can help refine or expand my thinking. So after recently revisiting the question about being a product manager without an engineering background, it was delightful to read feedback from two friends.

First the original post

Then my friend Ben Stern’s (PM at Figma, ex-Dropbox) response

And now, from my friend and former colleague Rushabh Doshi, who was an engineering leader at YouTube, before taking product and engineering roles at Facebook and now Digit. Copy/paste from the email he sent me this morning:

“I love this post.

I think non-technical product managers are awesome and bring a different set of skills and super-powers to the table. I love your advice for non-technical PMs as well. Slight tweaks that I would offer:

1. Be curious. Understand how things really work. Dig, dig, dig until you completely understand the stack. There has never been a better time to be curious — I usually watch experts on YouTube talk about deep topics and gain understanding quickly. Coding is more accessible than ever. Write some code and build some prototypes.

2. Have a super power. The opposite pole of a technologist (who is naturally close to technology) is someone who is very close to understanding the human elements. Non-technical PMs with a background in marketing, user research, design, customer support etc. have a great deal of empathy for the customer and an uncanny ability to put themselves in their customers shoes. If you are one of them, hone and cherish your abilities to develop that super power.

3. Align success. I firmly believe great product teams should measure themselves on ultimate customer impact, regardless of function. PMs should care just as much about shipping bugs, and engineers should care about building products that meaningfully address customer needs. PMs can be the center of this alignment through constant reinforcement.

One thing I would add:

Begin with execution. Execution is the most important thing for early career PMs. I have talked to a number of great PM candidates who cared a lot about “strategy” and working on “the bigger picture.” This is a great aspirational goal and as PMs gain experience, they should be able to pick up things of greater complexity and impact. However, everyone starts with execution, and if you’re early in your career, my one advice is to focus on execution.

PS: Obligatory plug that we’re hiring great PMs at Digit :)”

Thanks Ben and Rushabh!