Often described as strategists at the intersection of business, technology, design, and marketing, product managers are responsible for delivering new products from concept to launch across a diverse set of teams. They set the product vision and rally teams to deliver on innovations that solve real-world problems amidst a complex landscape of data.
“It’s a natural occurrence for product managers to be the first one looking at a problem space with no obvious solutions,” says AR/VR product manager Merlyn D.
So how do product managers successfully launch products despite the ambiguities? Here are some guiding principles on building impactful products from product managers and leaders at the Facebook company across Marketplace, Instagram, AR/VR and more.
1. Be the voice of your customer
“I spend a lot of time answering one simple question: what problem am I solving for people? Then I work with teams to develop a framework of how we actually build products. In this way, product managers bring a lot of structure to the playbook on solving ambiguous problems. We represent the people who use our products and give them a voice. That means it’s really important to understand the product from both the engineering and industry perspective about what we’re working on to effectively build a community from many different perspectives.
In my current team, we have an incredible opportunity to build category-defining products from the ground up, where we bring next generation technologies like computer vision into wearable hardware products.” —Merlyn D., Product Manager, Operating Systems, AR/VR at Facebook
2. Serve your team
“The most successful product managers make sure their teams feel supported and empowered to build the best products. Leadership at Facebook is about truly serving your team. This means understanding what motivates people and helping them get what they need.
I lead the Interests Product team where I oversee the work we do on Instagram products like IGTV, Live, Ads, Search, Explore, and Shopping. Our team often turns to our Instagram community to research pain points and identify ways to improve the product. At Instagram, we build for our community, and always anchor to our values—simplicity, people, and craft.” —Ashley Y., Director of Product Management, Instagram
3. Lean into your passion
“It’s important to be really passionate about your work to stay ahead of the curve. On my team, as pioneers of a new form of technology, there’s no concrete playbook for how to do things. It’s uncharted territory, so you have to learn quickly and adapt to the creative process.
I work on the AR/VR Experiences team where we build the software that will help people connect through this new technology. With virtual reality, there’s infinite space and interfaces to interact with. We constantly look for ways to empower people to control their experience however they want to. This involves a lot of experimentation, and we work with engineers, designers, and marketers to build the best products possible.” —Joshua M., Product Manager, AR/VR Experiences
4. Adopt a growth mindset
“As I build out teams of product managers and leaders, the most important thing I look for is adaptability and openness to feedback. I would rather have someone who is willing and open to growing than someone who is more experienced and skilled, but has a fixed mindset or way of doing things.
I recommend reading everything you can and to always be learning. We are creating new ideas and innovations, and the ability to think beyond what is known today is critical. Have a learning mindset. Be adaptable and open to feedback. Product managers are not there to make decisions. They are there to make sure great decisions are made. You don’t have to be the person to know or understand everything, but you do have to be the person who is able to lead teams to good outcomes. Leverage your team and cross functional peers. They will be your greatest assets.” —Deb Liu, Vice President, Marketplace
5. Speak up for what’s right
“Keep delivering and pushing the extra mile to always do the right thing. When hiring, look for people who act with integrity, have self-awareness, are willing to make tough calls, and speak out if they disagree with a decision or have concerns with the product direction.
Before joining Facebook, I imagined that VPs must be driving every product decision. But actually, product managers are entrusted to lead teams and make key product decisions. It’s very empowering to lead my domain without feeling micromanaged.” —Maryanna Q., Product Management Lead, Ads Manager
6. Solve real problems for people
“I initially thought it would be quite different, but the role of a product manager is really not that different from the role of a startup founder. With both, you need to be comfortable problem-solving when the stakes are high, working under tight timelines, and collaborating with others toward a shared mission.
I work on a very technical team despite not having an engineering background. My team and I use machine learning, a lot of data analysis, and advanced behavioral research to proactively identify and remove accounts that violate Facebook's community standards by targeting or exploiting minors on Facebook. We learn everything we can to better understand their behavior and ultimately prevent these accounts from returning to Facebook. We put people first as we make product decisions." —Namrata B., Product Manager, Community Integrity
No matter the product, a successful product manager is a leader that strategically navigates the ambiguity of creating new products to solve real problems for real people. Are you interested in setting product vision and steering projects through to execution? Learn more about product management opportunities at Facebook
or search all jobs here.