What is a Group Product Manager? A Beginner’s Guide

CareerFoundry contributor Dr. Anneke Schmidt

Did you know that transitioning from your current career to a product management role, while challenging, can lead to a rewarding professional experience?

In fact, a recent Glassdoor report highlighted product manager as one of the best jobs, making this career path even more compelling.

Taking a step further on the product management ladder, there are senior roles like the group product manager (GPM). GPMs embody the unique position of a player-coach, merging the tasks of individual contribution with the art of managing and developing people.

Their position demands a comprehensive understanding of the product, the business, and the engineering aspects vital to delivering a successful product to the market. But what exactly does a GPM do on a day-to-day basis, and how can you move into such a role?

Whether you’re new to product management or considering a transition to a more senior position, this guide will enlighten you about the role of a GPM. Here’s what we’ll cover:

  1. What is a group product manager?
  2. Group product manager vs product manager: What are the differences?
  3. How to become a group product manager
  4. Group product manager FAQs
  5. Wrap-up

Use the clickable menu to explore particular aspects of this guide, or keep reading to get a complete overview of a group product manager’s responsibilities, skillsets, and career paths.

1. What is a group product manager?

The easiest way to answer the question “What is a group product manager?” is to view the role as a critical leadership position within the product management sphere. GPMs bridge the gap between hands-on product work and the orchestration of a team toward successful product development and market launch.

In addition, a group product manager navigates the broader picture of product management, influencing the trajectory of not just a single product but a group of products, also known as “product clusters.”

This role, growing in popularity, represents a significant step up the career ladder in product management. It demands a delicate balance of hands-on involvement in product strategy and a nurturing approach toward team growth.

Let’s find out what this means in practice.

What does a group product manager do?

Have you looked at job descriptions on sites like Payscale or Velvet Jobs but are still unsure what the group product manager role entails and whether it’s the right fit for you? That’s perfectly understandable, given the nuanced nature of this position.

GPMs handle more than just standard product tasks, guiding an entire product portfolio toward success. Leading and managing a team from product concept to launch, they’re instrumental in:

  • Creating effective product strategies aligning with company goals
  • Crafting and executing tactical pricing based on research, demand, and project requirements
  • Resolving product issues as they arise and scheduling product milestones
  • Collaborating with sales teams to establish customer-specific pricing
  • Demonstrating inspiring and effective leadership, motivating product teams, and achieving company goals in a timely manner
  • Utilizing digital tools for creating detailed progress reports, adjusting budgets, and communicating with other departments
  • Building strong business relationships with potential customers and external vendors

Additionally, group product managers actively participate in business meetings to establish market value-based pricing, work on improving competitive positioning, and enhance brand loyalty.

Group product manager skills and responsibilities

Stepping into a GPM role requires a wide array of hard and soft skills. As leaders, GPMs master people management, exhibit strong communication skills, and demonstrate their ability to work effectively in team environments and autonomously with minimal supervision.

More specifically, group product managers shoulder the following responsibilities:

  • Creating Product Requirement Documents (PRDs), Market Requirement Documents (MRDs), and Business Requirement Documents (BRDs)
  • Customizing product features to partner requirements and managing email and social media marketing promotions
  • Conducting user surveys and focus groups to gain insights and feedback
  • Overseeing product enhancements and new product launches from start to finish, meticulously considering every detail to deliver solid results
  • Hiring and developing an efficient team to meet the needs of each functional area
  • Ensuring the product development process complies with government standards, customer requirements and specifications, and engineering principles
  • Guiding engineers in the completion of engineering documentation and managing timely product releases
  • Overseeing communications within the company and with customers and suppliers to ensure successful completion of commitments
  • Making recommendations to management based on expertise of the consumer, market, and competitors

A thorough comprehension of the assigned product line, including operational and marketing aspects, is imperative to excel in this role. In addition, knowledge of user-centric design and development is preferred, as is familiarity with site metrics reporting software, such as Google Analytics.

2. Group product manager vs product manager: What are the differences?

By far, the biggest difference between a product manager and a group product manager lies in their scope and responsibility.  

Picture this: a product manager is like an actor assigned to a specific role in a play. With the script in hand, they dive deep into the character, perfecting every line and gesture, much like a product manager honing in on a single product. In contrast, a group product manager embodies the role of the creative director. They take a step back to see the entire stage—the cast, the script, the scene transitions—overseeing and orchestrating the entire performance to ensure it harmonizes beautifully.

Similarly, a group product manager guides and supervises an entire category of products within a company’s portfolio, ensuring each one contributes to the overall business symphony. For instance, if a product manager handles the Apple iPhone 14, a group product manager would manage the whole iPhone category under Apple’s diverse offerings.

In other words, while a product manager is fine-tuning the details of a single product, a group product manager shapes the broader strategy and vision encompassing an entire range of products.

3. How to become a group product manager

To take the next step in your product management career and become a group product manager, you will need the right skills, experience, and a broader perspective of managing a portfolio of products. Let’s look at three core areas to focus on in this career path:

Acquire strategic skills and broaden your perspective

When you start your journey toward becoming a group product manager, you must broaden your understanding of competitive positioning.

Beyond managing a single product, you need to understand how an entire category of products coexists and complements each other within a market landscape. Expanding your strategic thinking to oversee various product clusters requires a profound understanding of business dynamics and market trends.

Look for ways to build and enhance these skills, be it through workshops, online courses, or real-world experience.

Develop your leadership abilities

A group product manager role isn’t just about managing products; it’s about managing people too.

This is a step up in your product management career, where you’ll lead a team of product managers. Hence, honing your product leadership skills is crucial. Seek mentorship opportunities, participate in leadership programs, and take the initiative to lead projects in your current role.

The goal is to foster a collaborative environment where you can inspire and guide your team toward shared objectives.

Gain relevant work experience

No two career paths are alike, but experience is a common denominator in all successful journeys.

Proven experience as a product manager can provide the foundation for your transition to a group product manager. Showcase your achievements and ability to contribute to a product’s success.

Experience dealing with cross-functional teams and handling multiple projects simultaneously will be of significant value.

4. Group product manager FAQs

Still curious about the ins and outs of a group product manager’s role and career opportunities? Check out our answers to these four frequently asked questions:

What level is group product manager?

In the hierarchy of product management roles, a group product manager typically ranks above a senior product manager, acting in a leadership role overseeing multiple related products. They carry considerable authority, making critical strategic decisions to guide their teams toward the successful delivery of final products.

Is group product manager the same as director?

While both are vital roles in upper management, a group product manager and director of product are not synonymous. The former focuses on monitoring and managing multiple related products, while a director usually has broader responsibilities, including addressing overarching customer needs.

What is above a group product manager?

Above a group product manager, you’ll typically find roles like Director or Vice President of Product Management. These roles involve even broader oversight of the business, including strategizing for overall product enhancements and leading larger cross-functional teams.

What is the average group product manager salary?

Salaries can vary greatly depending on the industry and location. However, the average salary for a group product manager is often competitive, reflecting the level of responsibility and expertise required for the role. For example, according to current Glassdoor data, the average base pay for a group product manager in the United States is $240,056 per year.

5. Wrap-up

Undoubtedly, the role of a group product manager is both challenging and rewarding, offering a unique blend of leadership, strategy, and product expertise. This blog post has shed light on the details of this role, differentiating it from a standard product manager and giving you insights into the skills, responsibilities, and steps required to advance into such a position.

Evidently, transitioning into a group product manager role involves not just managing products but people and an entire portfolio of products as well. Continuous skill-building, professional development, and gaining relevant experience are key to thriving in this field.

Ready to take the next step in your product management journey? We’ve got you covered! Explore our free product management short course to deepen your understanding and prepare for future challenges. 

Alternatively, if you’d prefer to continue exploring the topic of product management through additional reading, feel free to delve into these related articles:

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