GUIDE 2024

How to Become a Group Product Manager Without Experience

Do you aim to become a Group product manager or have a product management career in your dream company but have no experience playing the role?  Then you must know what skills you need to earn and the correct path that leads you to this lucrative position.

A Group Product Manager (GPM) is at the top of the hierarchy of product managers and leads a team of product managers. Unlike other product managers, group PMs focus more on the big picture of product management. Product managers with years of experience can move toward this rank. With the valuable experience they acquire from this role, they further rise to positions like Principal Product Manager, Head of Product, or  VP of Product. With great power comes great responsibilities. Thus, though it is a demanding career, it is a rewarding profession that prepares you to take higher positions.

Becoming a group PM without experience is challenging, but it is not impossible to get there. For example, leadership and team management skills are essential to succeed. Suppose you do not have prior experience with this role. In that case, you can build your portfolio with experience from a junior role and your projects, demonstrating your readiness to take on this challenging role.

To learn more via video, watch below. Otherwise, skip ahead.

6 Steps to Become a Group Product Manager

Here is a procedure on how to become a group product manager:

1. Know the Fundamentals of Product Management

The key to becoming a Group PM with no experience is knowing the fundamentals of product management. However, jumping straight toward a higher position like group PM is difficult if you have not experienced a junior product management role for at least a few years. Therefore, gain experience managing different types of products as a junior or a senior product manager. To gain product management experience, it doesn’t have to be a larger company. Instead, join a small team to learn ample things about the role.

Most product managers join the field with no experience and work on acquiring the essential knowledge and skills. A group PM needs to possess the fundamental techniques and knowledge related to the product and the industry. For example, if you are an API product manager, get the essential knowledge on APIs and grow your knowledge base with time. In the data science field, know the basics and the most advanced data science concepts, etc.

Also, you need to sharpen essential skills such as leadership, management, communication, collaboration, organizational, strategic thinking, and problem-solving skills while you are engaging with your duties. Apart from soft skills you need to sharpen, aspiring group product managers also need to know the fundamentals of product management. Following is the list of managerial tasks you need to know to transition into a group PM.

  • Defining product strategy
  • Product road map development
  • Leading and managing different types of teams
  • Working with customers to understand their requirements
  • Transforming customer requirements into features and enhancements

Hence, having the basic soft and technical skills is not enough to transition toward a group PM. However, take online courses to learn product management fundamentals. Follow the PMHQ Product Manager Course to improve your managerial side of product management. Combining the up-to-date knowledge, you get from such courses with product management experience prepares you to take higher-level positions like a group product manager position, principal product management ladder, manager role, and others.

Our product management certifications teach you all the fundamental skills you need to transition to a group product management role:

Product Manager Certification

2. Develop Your Projects to Build Product Skills

While gaining experience working in a real product management environment, diversify your product features knowledge and skills by creating your product management projects and managing them. These projects do not have to be large but enough to showcase your project management experience.

If you create projects with different products, it helps you demonstrate that your skills are transferable to new avenues. Once you have grasped the product management concepts from initial road map development to delivery, apply what you have practiced to those projects and continue to enhance your skills.

Working on your projects also helps to demonstrate that you take initiations and apply what you have learned to new initiations. it is difficult to apply the entire product lifecycle for these individual projects.

Demonstrate your skills in individual steps such as creating a product roadmap, writing user stories, acceptance criteria, prototype building, market research, and acceptance testing. Although these individual projects do not give you the right amount of exposure to team management, still work on further developing your skills, such as written communication skills, strategic thinking, and analytical skills.

Capacity Roadmap

If you want to go beyond working in isolation with your projects, work on involving other like-minded people in your projects who are also enhancing their skills by doing their projects. This helps fill the skill gaps such as communication collaboration, and leadership skills. It also allows you to come up with innovative product ideas through brainstorming. Hence, pairing with other people is a good way to apply the complete product development lifecycle to your projects and develop essential product management skills.

Keep in mind that principal product managers are all about managing a team of product managers. Therefore, it is important to have ample experience in managing multiple product teams together. It is difficult to gain everything by working on your projects. But, having a combination of real product management experience with your project management projects helps you fill the gaps in your skills and knowledge.

3. Sharpen Your Leadership Skills

GPM is a position that has the authority to lead a group of product managers to achieve business goals. Without showcasing your leadership skills, it is difficult for you to transition into a group product manager. However, if you are already working as an associate or a junior product manager, get ample opportunities for leadership as you are leading different cross-functional teams.

Delegation Framework

As a leader, you must be a good listener and a motivator for your team to achieve their best. Showing positivity towards others is a key characteristic of an effective leader. It enables building trust among your team members as reliable people to deal with whenever they face any project-related issue. Also, when you get positive feedback, it helps others recommend you to group product management positions. Moreover, be creative in what you are doing to become an example to others who strive for innovation.

Therefore, you need to gain leadership experience as much as possible. Also, do not hesitate to start new initiatives and take up new challenges to show upper management that you are willing to go the extra mile to add new value to the business and customers. Additional work under your leadership helps you to stand out from the crowd who’s satisfied with day-to-day assigned tasks.

Apart from the above-discussed ways to sharpen your leadership skills, take up extra activities by joining the company’s internal communities and societies and playing a leadership role. It is a good way to create effective work relationships with colleagues and enhance communication, collaboration, and organizational skills. These extra activities also help you learn time management, a skill every leader should master.

Therefore, there are numerous ways to demonstrate your leadership capabilities. Choose multiple paths to expand your leadership experience because the more leadership experience you have, the more you become a top candidate for taking up a group PM role.

4. Keep up to Date With Technology and Competitors

While gaining the necessary skills, you need to update yourself with the latest technological and market trends that could impact the products. Taking courses and certifications about those things is a good way to showcase that you want to know where the industry moves ahead. It also helps you initiate your projects by incorporating those technologies to get hands-on experience while grasping a deep understanding of the core concepts.

In addition, keep an eye on your close competitors. Study their latest products identifying the technologies they are using. Develop your market research and analysis skills. Learn to summarize the findings and understand the big picture. Practice presenting those data on your own because Group PMs focus on the big picture rather than the detailed picture.

5. Create a Portfolio to Showcase Your Work

While you are working on an actual product management environment and your projects, creating a portfolio showcasing everything you are doing is an essential step you have to follow. Your portfolio is the tool to showcase the relevant work and skills gained to your potential employers. Therefore, remember to add everything you have done to your resume concise manner.

First, if you have done any online coursework, you need to include them explaining what specific areas of knowledge you have covered. It is always important to highlight the knowledge relevant to Group PM. Sometimes the courses you have taken include projects as part of the syllabus. It is better to emphasize those in detail as most employers look for practical parts rather than theory.

Next, include all the actual project work you have done as a product manager highlighting the skills you have gained as a product manager. You need to highlight the project you have worked on and facts to show off your leadership, team management, communication, collaboration, and problem-solving skills. There is no single way to formulate all these important facts. Choose either to include them project-wise or as a whole.

When building your portfolio, try to make it as narrative as possible to make it easy for your potential employers to read and understand it. For example, what are the problems and challenges you have faced and your approach to solving them, any innovative ideas you have presented or worked on, and key presentations you have done?

The other important part is showcasing your self-projects as an individual contributor. Include every individual project you have worked on, including the individual external projects you have contributed. Highlight the key skills you tried to develop in a concise and meaningful way.

6. Get Your Portfolio to Potential Employers

Once you are ready with your portfolio and confident enough that you have gained the right knowledge and skills, it is time to work on getting it to potential employers. For that, networking with others working for potential employers is a faster way to get there than applying for a job posting. If you are applying through job postings, first shortlist all the potential employers you have come through. If you target one specific employer, you need to identify what they are looking for at the beginning of your preparation for this role.

In addition, expand your network by joining external events such as meet-ups and making industry connections as much as possible. Those meetups and events are great opportunities for you to get in close with industry professionals and learn their knowledge, experience, and guidance on moving towards your career paths.

Roles and Responsibilities of a Group Product Manager

First, understanding the general roles and responsibilities is important to prepare your mind to work towards them. A group product manager’s responsibilities include:

  • Lead a product team to achieve business goals
  • Develop business plans and define budgets based on project requirements.
  • Supervising, coaching, and mentoring junior product managers
  • Maintain a strong working relationship with internal teams as well as customers and vendors
  • Identify and propose innovative business opportunities and ideas for revenue growth.
  • Customer requirement identification and devising effective product solutions.
  • Prioritizing product development projects.
  • Assist in product marketing and launches
  • Review product road maps and provide feedback
  • Remove any hindrances to executing the product plans.
  • Ensure products meet the expected quality and performance standards

Depending on the company, this list changes. For example, if you manage a Silicon Valley product group, you may have a lot more responsibilities. However, every company expects strong leadership responsibilities from a group PM. Next, let’s find out how you get there without experience.

Final Remarks

Becoming a Group Product Manager involves deep product knowledge, strategic insight, and leadership skills. You must focus on developing a strong track record in product management, enhancing your ability to lead diverse teams, and understanding the broader market dynamics. By continuously learning and taking on increasing responsibilities, you can successfully transition into this role, where you will have the opportunity to shape product strategy and drive impactful decisions across multiple products and teams.


Here are answers to questions that aspiring group product managers frequently ask:

Is a group product manager role higher than a director?

A Group Product Manager (GPM) is not higher than a Director in the organizational hierarchy. The GPM role involves managing multiple product lines or a larger product team, focusing on strategy and execution within the product management function. While, a Director oversees the entire product management department, which also manages multiple product managers.

How do you become an effective group product manager?

To become an effective Group Product Manager, focus on developing these key skills:

  1. Master the ability to set long-term visions for multiple products and ensure they align with the company’s goals.
  2. Learn to communicate clearly and persuasively with stakeholders at all levels.
  3. Build inspiring and effective leadership to oversee product managers and cross-functional teams.
  4. Be adept at identifying problems and crafting innovative solutions.
  5. Always prioritize understanding and meeting the needs of the user base.

By excelling in these areas, you can drive your team and product lines to achieve substantial business impact.

What is the group product manager’s salary?

The salary ranges from $140,000 to $200,000 per year. In high-cost areas, such as New York or San Francisco, salaries are even higher, potentially reaching $250,000 annually.

If you are new to product management and are looking to break into your first product role, we recommend taking our Product Management Certification Courses, where you will learn the fundamentals of product management, launch your product, and get on the fast track toward landing your first product job.

Josh Fechter
Josh Fechter
Josh Fechter is the co-founder of Product HQ, founder of Technical Writer HQ, and founder and head of product of Squibler. You can connect with him on LinkedIn here.