Strategic Function of Product Management

Paul Gray recently was crowned The Best Product Person of 2010 Runner-up. Over the coming weeks I will be sharing a Q and A session I had with Paul. In part 2, we explore the strategic function of product management.

Paul GrayVery close runner-up to The Best Product Person of 2010 was Paul Gray. Paul Gray has spent ten years working in the entertainment, media and communications industries within Australia and Europe. Paul worked in both B2B and B2C roles for organizations including Disney, Foxtel, and British Telecom.

In consideration as The Best Product Person of 2010, I interviewed Paul about all aspects of Product Management, from his own career path, to advice, to trends he now sees emerging.

Over the next few weeks I will be sharing portions of this interview. This week, let’s look the strategic function of product management.

In the now…

> Whose shoes would you like to walk in for a day? why?
I think I’d learn a great deal from walking in the shoes of Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix. He seems to embody traits of a great product manager. He is intensely focused on his customers. He doesn’t dwell on products or features, rather he seeks to understand and deliver the outcomes they want. His approach has been mocked and belittled by everyone from Blockbuster to Time Warner, but he has shown that his approach not only works, but works really well. I’d love to see how he created this culture and spread these great product management principles throughout his entire organization.

> What excites you about your current products?
As I work in product management consulting, I’m able to work across multiple products in diverse industries. In 2010, I worked on Pay-TV services, insurance, online communities, health services and innovative startups. I enjoy this breadth in scope, having the opportunity to bring a fresh pair of “eyes” to a product and suggest new ideas and insights to help ensure that it is aligned on meeting and exceeding customer expectations.

> What do you like most and least about being a product manager?
I’d echo the concerns I’ve heard from many other product managers that I work with – that the role often ends up taking on too much tactical responsibility, from reporting to customer service resolution, sales support and even help with the actual development of a product. In my view, product management is a strategic function that touches multiple parts of an organization and while product managers should have input into, and be available to support other business functions, it is important that the product manager’s main efforts and responsibilities are directed towards crafting and executing strategy.


TBPP2010_altabrv114_thumb2Over the next few weeks I will share more of my interview with Paul Gray, Runner-up to The Best Product Person of 2010, as well as other fascinating product people I met in this journey!

Subscribe now (click here) to make sure you don’t miss any part of this series exploring The Best Product Person of 2010, or any other of the upcoming product person interviews, as well as other insightful posts from The Product Guy.


Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

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