Product Mentorship: What it is And Why it Matters

Headshot of CareerFoundry product management mentor Shehab Beram.

As well as being a CareerFoundry tutor and member of our Instructor Advisory Board, Shehab Beram is also an expert in building and scaling SaaS and eCommerce products. He’s also an ex-founder who now specializes in product consulting and coaching. 

What really sets Shehab apart, though, is his dedication to teaching and mentoring aspiring PMs. He’s committed to helping the next generation of product managers succeed by sharing his knowledge and expertise.

So who better to talk to about product mentorship? Take it away, Shehab!

How I got started in product

When I first broke into the world of product management six years back, I was armed with a shelf-full of management books, a playlist of product management podcasts I listened to, and a healthy dose of confidence. 

“Why would I need a mentor when I have all this knowledge on my shelf and the blogs I’m subscribed to?” I thought. Oh, how naive I was! As I navigated through the challenges of the role, from the daunting task of selecting the right company to work at, to role-specific challenges such as managing tough stakeholders, prioritizing among competing team initiatives, and crafting a validated strategy for new product lines, the gaps in my book-based theoretical knowledge became apparent. 

These weren’t just technical challenges; they were complex situations that required wisdom, experience, and an understanding of the product landscape—qualities that no book could fully impart.

Fast forward to today, and I’m guided by two seasoned mentors who’ve been instrumental in shaping my product journey. Their insights have been invaluable and they helped transform my approach and perspective on product management. So, in this article, I’ll take you through the ins and outs of product mentorship, drawing on my own experiences to highlight why breaking into product management with a mentor by your side isn’t just helpful—it’s essential.

What does a product mentor do?

In my journey, I’ve come to understand that a product mentor is essentially a seasoned guide—a person who’s not only already walked the path you’re on, but has also left markers along the way to ensure you don’t lose your way. 

They’ve been in your position, but over the course of working for various companies on product teams, they’ve faced down the challenges that crop up and emerged with strategies and solutions that they’re ready to pass down. A product mentor is someone who’s not just sharing knowledge, but is laying down a roadmap for you to become a successful product manager. 

A product mentor can help you with two major phases:

Phase 1: The job hunt

Let’s be real, landing that dream gig in product management isn’t something you just stumble into. It’s more like preparing for a marathon—you’ve got to train for it. Here’s where a product mentor becomes your personal coach. They’re the ones who can spot your knowledge and skill weaknesses, those knowledge gaps you didn’t even know you had, and help you beef up on those areas before you even start looking.

But it’s not just about filling these gaps. It’s about understanding your professional journey—what makes you tick, what skills you bring to the table, and what kind of company culture will you most probably succeed at. They’re like your career matchmaker, aligning you with opportunities where you won’t just fit in; you’ll stand out. They help you tailor your personal brand so precisely that when the right roles come along, it’s like they were made for you. And yeah, they’re also your secret weapon for acing those interviews, offering personalized strategies to land the role.

Phase 2: The day-to-day grind

If you thought product management was all about following a neat set of rules you read in a book or a couple of articles, brace yourself. The real world of product management is messier, tougher, and way more intricate. You’ll find yourself juggling different departmental priorities, dealing with stakeholders who all want their piece of the pie yesterday (aka, feature requests), and trying to make magic happen with a team as diverse as a bag of mixed nuts.

Here lies the true value of a product mentor. Having previously stood in your shoes, they offer not just empathy but strategic solutions to the challenges you face. Their advice is rooted in real-world experience and extends beyond the typical knowledge to include methodologies and approaches that are not discussed in popular product management literature. This deep well of knowledge and practical insight is what sets a product mentor apart.

So, what does a product mentor do? In essence, they’re your guide, your coach, and your secret weapon, all rolled into one. 

Why mentorship is particularly important in the field of product management

Mentorship in product management is pretty much essential. I believe what sets product mentorship apart from other career-specific mentorships is the unique nature of the role. 

Here’s the thing—product management isn’t just about having great ideas and being visionary enough to execute them; it’s about solving problems by making those ideas work with major teams and complex organizational cultures and diverse teams through leading with influence but no authority. This simple definition of product management itself clearly tells us how challenging, demanding, and undefined our role is. As a result, having a mentor on your side can really come in handy. 

It doesn’t stop there—these mentors have other key characteristics. Here are the reasons why a product mentor is essential:

Part 1: Role-specific

Navigating the ambiguity of typical roles

Product management is a relatively new field filled with gray areas, especially for newcomers. Having a product mentor means you’ve got someone who’s been through it all—from tight engineering resources, to having big responsibilities without full authority. They’re there to guide you and suggest solutions and offer advice that’s been tested out.

Combating team isolation

The role of a product manager can sometimes feel lonely. You’re not working closely with other product colleagues the same way your engineers do. The tough part is,  you’re often the solo product voice among a team of 4–10 engineers and designers. A mentor provides that much-needed emotional support we all need, giving you a boost when you’re up against the usual tough challenges.

Better day-on-day decision-making

As a product manager, you’re making decisions on a daily basis with very minimal information and evidence. A seasoned product mentor acts as a sounding board, helping to refine your thinking, boost your confidence, and bring clarity to your decision-making process. 

I remember when my mentor helped me with picking the OKR theme of one of the quarters, based on their industry expertise. I consider this to be one of the best perks of having a product mentor on your side. 

Part 2: Long-term career support

Expanding your professional network

A well-selected product mentor opens doors to a wider professional network, connecting you with professionals inside and outside your current ecosystem which will lead you to learning product management from a wider perspective. 

Planning Your Career Path

Whether you envision yourself as a principal product manager (an individual contributor career ladder)  or aim to take on leadership roles like Head of Product, a mentor helps you map out your PM career trajectory and provides you with insights and advice on how to reach these long-term goals and empower you with any tool and technique you need to accomplish your goal. 

Three places people can find product mentors

Finding that go-to product mentor who can guide you isn’t as challenging as it seems. Let me share a couple of ways based on what worked for me and what I’ve learned along the way.


Believe it or not, LinkedIn is the easiest way to find potential product mentors. There are loads of experienced product managers out there who are super invested in mentoring aspiring and entry-level product managers

Crafting a thoughtful, personalized message that highlights your background and aspirations can really open doors with these professionals. The tricky part here is to find someone whose experience resonates with your career path. It’s a bit like matchmaking—you want to find that mentor who “gets” where you’re coming from, and has the qualities you really need to achieve your product goals.

I remember reaching out to seasoned product leaders at a Fortune 500 company whose career path I deeply admired. I sent a message that was a bit more personal, sharing my journey and why I thought they’d be the perfect mentor for me. To my surprise, they were not only willing but eager to share their insights. 

The key here is definitely a genuine connection. Find someone whose career resonates with you, and don’t be shy to share your story even if you don’t have the typical and stereotypical product manager background.

Product management communities & groups

Ever heard of the saying “It’s not what you know, but who you know”? Before I found my mentor, I underestimated the power of product management communities. Places like the Product Stack or Product Coalition aren’t just forums; they’re hubs where passionate professionals gather

I used to be a very inactive person who really underestimated the value these communities could add, but once I started actively participating and attending local meetups, everything changed. It was at one of these meetups that I met someone who later introduced me to my current mentor. 

The ultimate key here is to show up to these events, engage, and be clear to your potential mentors about what you’re looking for. It’s amazing how willing people (especially product professionals) are to help when they see your enthusiasm.

Professional intensive courses

One of the potential ways to find a product mentor is by enrolling in a course designed to do that.

An example here is CareerFoundry’s Product Management Immersion Course. This course doesn’t just teach you product management; It also pairs you with a seasoned mentor who’s aligned with your background and goals. This mentor isn’t just any mentor—they’re someone who can guide you through building a killer product management portfolio, clarify any role ambiguities, and prep you for real-world challenges with insider tips and solutions.

mentoship is particularly important in product management

How product mentorship has helped me in my own career so far

Reflecting on how product mentorship has shaped my career, it’s clear the impact has been profound and saved me a lot of time in my day-to-day role. Here’s a rundown:

I chose my mentor specifically for their depth of experience and versatility in product management across different contexts and settings. This wasn’t just about finding a guide; it was about finding someone who had truly walked the path I was on and beyond.

Solving day-to-day challenges

One of the standout moments in my mentorship experience was tackling the issue of integrating technical debt into our quarterly planning. I was somewhat lost on how to approach this without stirring up concerns among stakeholders. 

My mentor provided a lifeline by sharing a concrete example from their own experience, offering strategies that not only helped me overcome the issue smoothly but also strengthened my credibility and relationships with my team and stakeholders. This was mentorship in action: practical, actionable advice that directly addressed the challenges I was facing.

Expanding my network

Beyond problem-solving, my mentor played a crucial role in broadening my professional network within the product management field. 

This wasn’t just superficial networking: these were meaningful connections that later became instrumental in the launch of my own venture, visionX, a first-of-its-kind personal branding studio for product managers. The guidance and introductions from my mentor were invaluable, turning visionX from a concept into a reality.

Three ways of how to get the most out of your product mentor:

1. Find your future in them

When choosing a product mentor, look for someone who embodies the future you envision for yourself. This is about more than just admiring their career achievements; it’s about seeing a path in them that aligns with where you want to go with your product management role. 

A mentor who’s already traveled the path you aspire to will provide you with insights and guidance that are directly relevant to your ambitions. Their journey can offer a blueprint for your own. 

For example, if you are a product management newbie with a background in finance and want to be a Fintech product manager:

  • Try to find a Fintech product manager who transitioned into product management from a finance background
  • Look for a product manager who is currently a Fintech product manager
  • Try looking for a product manager with a deep interest into Fintech technologies and the industry 

The key here is to try to find someone who can really match both your background and aspiration. If you can’t find both, then at least look for one of them. This will ensure a higher degree of personalization in your mentor’s guidance. 

2. Preparation is key

Before meeting your mentor, take some time to really prepare. This isn’t just about listing your questions—it’s about providing them with the full picture and context. 

Keep a log of the actions you have encountered in a specific timeframe. Share the stories from the log, the challenges you’re facing, and the context around them. The more your product mentor knows about where you’re coming from and what you have been through, the more tailored and impactful their recommendation can be. 

Think of it like giving them the pieces of a puzzle; the clearer the picture they have, the better they can help you solve it. So, take the time to prepare and show:

  • Any major new learnings you learned this week? (To reflect on them with the mentor and get any knowledge gaps filled)
  • What are the highest priority challenges you’re facing now? (To get personalized tips on how to overcome them) 
  • Any topic you would like to dig deeper in and anticipate to use in the upcoming period of time, e,g, product roadmap? (To be proactive and get some early advice on concepts you might be using in your day-to-day role)

3. Keep the momentum going through check-ins

Consistency is the key to maintaining an effective relationship with your mentor. Aim to book at least one check-in call or meeting with your mentor every week, even if it’s for a brief, casual conversation or to share an update on your progress—even if it’s just to say a casual “hi”. 

These regular touchpoints help keep the momentum of your mentorship. It’s not only about seeking their advice when you face a challenge in your day-to-day role. I believe it’s more about maintaining the flow of communication that can provide ongoing support and encouragement. Remember, as I mentioned earlier, product management is a highly isolated role, so seek your mentor’s emotional support if possible. 

Learning from my mentees: What I get out of being a product mentor to people

I quickly found that being a product mentor enriched my professional life in ways I never could have predicted. Watching my mentees grow as professionals and succeed in their careers gives me a level of personal satisfaction and fulfillment unlike any I’ve ever known. 

Seeing someone take methods and insights I’ve shown them and experience progress is incredibly invigorating; it’s a large part of what keeps me motivated to continue my own journey of mentorship and to find significant ways to give back to the professional community.

Mentoring has also had the added benefit of dragging me out of the bubble in which I’d become accustomed to living as a product manager. My mentees come from incredibly varied backgrounds—former law and chemistry students among them—all of which meant that learning to think outside of the product management box has taken on a whole new significance. A lot of the time, that’s just involved learning to take a more holistic view of problem-solving and decision-making in any number of aspects, of course. That said, it’s also a reminder that the principles of product management can (and should) intersect with any number of other disciplines, as well as teach them in turn.

Lastly (and perhaps most surprisingly) in a number of instances, mentoring others has become the single best vehicle for improving and expanding my skills that I’ve ever encountered. Walking someone through concepts, strategies, and best practices doesn’t just underscore my own knowledge of a subject; it usually results in new insights and ideas. As a result, every single session my mentees and I have is as much an opportunity for me to learn as it is for them. That makes being a mentor about more than just passing on knowledge—it’s a form of personal and professional development that truly never stops.

What You Should Do Now

  1. Get a hands-on introduction to product management with a free, self-paced short course made up of 5 short tutorials.

  2. Take part in one of our FREE live online product manager events with industry experts, or check out CareerFoundry graduate Farley’s product management portfolio project.

  3. Become a qualified product manager in 3-6 months—backed by the CareerFoundry job guarantee.

  4. This month, we’re offering a partial scholarship worth up to $1,365 off on all of our career-change programs to the first 100 students who apply 🎉 Book your application call and secure your spot now!

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