The last 3 years was an astonishing period for the Vietnam Startup communities. The emerging of big tech household name: Momo, Tiki, Shoppee, The Coffee House, VNG, Grab, Foody, Lozi, etc… had caused a tremendous amount of new job titles appear in the vietnamese workforce, new job terms are coming left and right, such as: Data Analysis, Data Science, Growth Hacker, Community Manager and the most interesting one is Product Manager (PM).
Unlike the model of most tech vietnamese company is “Outsourcing” – which is to make tailored product/software in return for cash. Product Managers often only exist at Product company like Startups, Game design companies or “Outsourcing” company whose wants to unleash itself from doing outsourcing (it’s quite challenging at first for them) by working its on in-house product.
Article: What is the difference between a Product company and an Outsourcing company?
I. How Product Manager role is important?
Product Manager is an important position — specifically in tech companies — that sets the strategy, roadmap, and feature definition for a product or product line. The position may also include growth marketing, forecasting using data analysis, and profit and loss (P&L) responsibilities. In many ways, the role of a product manager is similar in concept to a brand manager at a consumer packaged goods company.
Product Manager is the person who’s responsible for the success of the product of a company/startup, usually it is a piece of software (App or web) in which has users interacting with it. This role is quite new in Vietnam and just has been emerged since 2017 when the growth of Vietnamese Startup communities took off.
“Good companies manage Engineering. Great companies manage Product.”– Thomas Schranz, Founder and CEO of Blossom
Some people might misinterpret that Product Manager is the mini-CEO of the Product team, however it is not the case most the time and it is vary from company to company about the exact role of Product Manager. His role and responsibilities change across different industries and different companies.
- The Product Manager is actually not a manager of anybody: funny as it says, truth is, he is not, he is in the team as the leader and the
catalysts for the team members to unleash their potential. In the end, he is as important as anyone else.
- He is the communicator whose job is getting all the pieces together by listening to feedback from all sides.
- He is a researcher, a prioritizer, a presenter and he is responsible for the success of the product.
- A product could be anything from a CRM tool to a million users app
- A PM is not always in charge of an entire product but only certain sections of it.
- One feature team usually has 3 – 5 people (including the PM) and ideally can only take care of 1 specific feature. Facebook newsfeed has more PMs to work on different parts of it.
- PMs can also be divided up by platforms (Android, iOS, Web, CMS, etc)
I guess up to this point reading this post, you might or not understand about the role so the following video might help a bit (don’t forget to turn the CC button on for subs)
Believe it or not, soon enough 2 or 3 years from now the Product Manager title will certainly be the ideal career to pursue. Why? if you are the person whose:
- You’d like to start your own tech company someday?
- Be your own boss?
- Get paid while experimenting your ideas on existing products?
If the answer is “yess” for 2 out of 3 above then the role is perfect for you.
Guess who they are? They were Product Managers prior being CEOs
The demand for Product Manager is increasing at an insane rate. More and more companies are finally figuring out how important this discipline and this role is to their success.
This is actually started to happen to many Vietnamese outsourcing companies, you can search on Google Keyword Planner – VN location to see such a result to backup the assumption.
II. Career path illustration for Product Manager
Ha! the question in you mind I guess now is how to be a Product Manager right? Then look at the chart below and answer it for yourself.
Literally, Product Manager can have his/her starting point at any position in the Tech industry, I was quite surprised when first seeing that the Customer Service position can advance to be Product Manager. The reason is quite understandable since all Product roles have lots of things to do with customer-centric, a Product Manager who evolved from Customer service personnel is awesome to encounter though!
Keep working on your position hard and learn the skills needed for being the Product person, soon enough the title will be yours!!!
III. How much does Product Manager get paid in Vietnam? the median paid?
In Vietnamwork salary report 2019 (the newest) stated that the average salary of Product Manager falls around $1300 USD a month.
It is equivalent of 30,000,000 (thirty-million) Vietnam dong, quite a fairly good pay, however, I believe this average doesn’t reflect other factors such as years of experience and the skills each Product Manager has that counted.
Another source from First Alliances HR consultancy also stated that the pay is around $2000 Min to $3500 Max ( 46 mil -> 80 mil VND) for the position.
By looking at the two sources above, I might conclude that the salary should be from $1200 – $4000 depends on the experience and what him/her can bring to the table.
IV. Who would likely to be promoted as the Product Manager in Vietnam?
During my time in the industry I have seen quite lots of Product Managers have their background from UX/UI designers (3 out of 4), this maybe a trend but again the reason is easy to comprehend, UX/UI designers are very likely to be promoted for the position because some of the skills needed for most Product company in Vietnam (Game, Consumer apps, E-Commerce, etc…) are satisfied by the designer, which are:
- User Experience understanding (important)
I have gathered an article discussing about such topic.
And if you think about a Product Manager’s role (in general) and a User Experience Designer’s role, you’ll notice that somehow they overlap. Gathering knowledge on user behavior and guiding the development of the product is something that certainly links both roles. And although UX Designers are more on the ‘craft’ side and PMs are rather considered with the ‘management’, both roles can, if not clearly divided, be in unfortunate opposition to each other. That’s a situation that always hurts the product.Sourece: https://medium.com/@marcintreder/product-manager-and-ux-designer-whats-the-difference-d35d7b8023f
Sums up, promoting the UX designers to Product Manager is quite beneficial in many ways for the company in the long term since the 2 roles have something overlap in common as all are user-centric roles.
V. But how exactly do you get into the field?
There aren’t any degrees or vocational school in Product Management & there are no certifications (They do have some but are very expensive to most Vietnamese). Most Product Managers get into the field through luck or connections.
For me personally, I was doing the job of Product Manager before knowing about the title, the people at the first Product company that I was working at didn’t called it as Product Manager but as “Growth Hacker”, which is a new job title at the time and very similar to Marketing Executive but more on data analysis and product side kind of thing. I studied Growth Hacking from CGO Vietnam team (link: https://www.facebook.com/cgovietnam/)
Ok, so to get into the field first you need to be in the Tech industry, whether or not you care working at Outsourcing company, Product company, Digital Marketing Agency company, Startups, you have to be in Tech in the firsr place and there is no other way. If you are now sitting in an office that have no developers, designers, you don’t know anything about server, framework, app development procedure, customer journey map, SOW, Kanban, Agile, Scum and so on, then it is very hard for you to understand and advance to be in the role.
There is a saying: “Nothing is impossible!” and it is true for this profession as well. Based on my experience and what I observe, to answer the problem I can give you some ideas on how to, you know, be a Product Manager in the future if you decided to make the commitment.
VI. Steps on how to be a Product Manager without a Tech background
Without a technical background? It is not a problen!
At first, It does not make any logical sense at all when I heard about PMs can be non-tech and I bet you would though of the same thing. Nontheless, the number one reason you can enjoy your career as a non-tech Product Manager is the same reason you can enjoy your career without having sales background.
As a Product Manager, you are a member of team of experts.
Who will need to have the technical background in the team? The technical people – The developers, the data scientists, the design engineers or whoever in the team has to deal with technical stuff. The Marketing
Step #1 – Take a course:
As easy as it may sound, taking a course in Product Management can help you to have a good understanding of how the role may gonna be and to see if this job is what you want in the first place. It is rarely to find such a official course by any university in Vietnam as the job term is still uncommon among Tech community. However, Nordic Coder does indeed tech this course for the time of writing this article with the tuition fee of $200 (link: https://nordiccoder.com/khoa-hoc/product-management/), you can check it out!
Another option I think might be better for those who have not wanted to be serious yet with the career is learning online through Udemy or Coursera, this option is required you to be able to have good English listening skills as well as a good comprehensive undertstanding of Tech but substitle is available on most courses so with a little of patience you can grasp it well though!
These are some links to Product Management courses you might like:
- Become a Product Manager: https://www.udemy.com/become-a-product-manager-learn-the-skills-get-a-job/
- Software Product Management: https://www.coursera.org/specializations/product-management
- Product Design by Google on Udacity: https://www.udacity.com/course/product-design–ud509
Learn something new, enroll in that developer class, that design class and and get a job in Tech soon!