How Product Manager Startup and Corporate Jobs Compare
In Chapter 10 of 15 in his 2011 Capture Your Flag interview, Ramsey Pryor answers "How Does a Startup Product Management Job Differ From a Large Corporate One?" Pryor notes how startup product managers have a blank slate and significant autonomy, whereas large company product managers must work withing much more complex and numerous role definitions. Pryor is currently a product management executive at IBM focused on cloud-based communication and collaboration software.
Erik: How does a startup product management job differ from a large corporate one? Ramsey: I think firstly, product management is always done differently in every environment even if you're going from one big place to another big place or one startup to another it’s always going to be different. But between the startup and the big company I think, you know, firstly the product management role in a large company is subdivided often, so I think you kinda have a blank slate in a startup. If you're in product management you just feel responsible overall for what you're running and so if there’s an area that needs help, if you need to work on something on the legal side or if you need to roll your sleeves up and do something on the marketing side, you just do it. In a big company, you're going to be stepping on toes when you do that and so that was kind of --going from a small company to a very large company, that was something that I had to become aware of very quickly is, you know, I was used to just kinda filling in and, you know, winging it or making it up. That’s really what you do a lot in a small company. You fill the gaps. You don’t feel like there’s someone who’s gonna being able to do that for you. Now, I think you spend a lot of time looking for the person who’s an expert in that area. So, if there’s a legal aspect that you need to figure out, instead of doing it yourself you just try to find the person that knows that. You know, for better or for worse there’s a much larger team that is involved.