New research

4 characteristics of the modern European product manager

Published Apr 15, 2021

While there are certain foundations that all product managers share, there is plenty to be learned from how your peers are doing things. Product management can look different from one company, industry, or region to the next–and it’s in these differences where we uncover insight into why PMs operate the way they do. 

In our 2021 State of Product Leadership: Europe report, we explore how European product leaders in France, Germany, and the U.K. are navigating the current landscape, and making digital transformation a reality in order to steer their companies into the future. The survey also sheds light on how product leaders in Europe are similar to–and doing things differently than–their counterparts around the world.

Here are four key attributes of European PMs to keep in mind:

1. They’re more focused on roadmaps and prioritization

Each year, the responsibilities on product leaders’ plates are bound to shift, illuminating larger trends that are impacting their day-to-day. When we examine responsibility areas for European PMs vs. PMs globally, one stands out: roadmap/prioritization. This was the second-highest area of responsibility for product leaders in Europe, and did not even make the top five for global respondents.

The difference could be due to a variety of factors. European companies may have been more likely to pivot their strategies in the wake of the pandemic shaking up the global economy, requiring PMs to be more dialed into priorities on the roadmap. It could also be the case that product leaders in Europe took the initiative to proactively adjust the roadmap, whereas others felt like the roadmap needed to be changed, but it was less in their control to make those decisions.

2. They manage multiple products

Product leaders are the ultimate wearer of multiple hats, and for European PMs, this often means managing multiple products at once. The survey revealed that 33% of European respondents manage more than one product, compared to 29% globally.

While this could be viewed as a subtle difference, it still speaks to a unique characteristic of product leaders in Europe. It also ties back to digital transformation: As product teams are tasked with driving digital transformations, it may require individuals to take on more responsibility and manage multiple initiatives (and products) across the business. It’s no easy task, but European product managers are up for the challenge.

3. They partner with product ops increasingly

This year, 45% of survey respondents in Europe indicated that their companies have a dedicated product ops team. Although this is lower than the global response (53%), it’s a big increase from last year, where only 26% of respondents said their company had a product operations team. As product leaders in Europe shift to more strategic projects like leading their companies’ digital transformation efforts, they need the support of product ops to help manage customer-centric priorities like feedback collection and onboarding.

4. They’re on the hook for revenue

As more companies embrace a product-led strategy, their mindset is shifting to the idea that product success is business success–and it shows in the metrics product leaders are measuring. This year, 50% of European product leaders ranked revenue as a primary success metric for customer-facing applications, coming in third after product/feature/roadmap delivery and product usage.

In comparison, 45% of product leaders globally listed revenue as a primary success metric, indicating that product pros in Europe may have a stronger alignment between the product experience and financial performance.