e-Book

Battle of the Product Managers: East Coast vs. West Coast vs. UK

Foreword

Each year, the Pendo marketing team surveys hundreds of product leaders across the US and the UK in order to gain a deeper understanding of their responsibilities, priorities, and place in the organization. We then collect our findings in our annual State of Product Leadership report, publishing discrete versions for US and UK product leaders. But this year, we had a realization: Why keep those results separate? Instead of solely looking at the profiles of product leaders from different regions in isolation, why not also compare them? That’s how the idea for this guide was born.

In Battle of the PMs, we compare three different product leader profiles: product managers from the West Coast of the US, product managers from the East Coast of the US, and product managers from the UK. Specifically, we hone in on the differences (and similarities) between these professionals across several criteria, including career path, decision-making, organizational alignment, effectiveness, and job satisfaction.

Our goal with this guide isn’t to declare that one type of product manager is superior to another. Instead, we want to highlight how product management styles differ by region and identify areas where product managers from different regions can learn from one another. Regardless of the coast or country you call home, we hope this guide will provide you with a broader perspective of what it means to be a product leader.

Jake Sorofman
CMO, Pendo

Meet the Product Managers

To the untrained eye, the role of product manager may seem uniform and universal — especially for those working in B2B and SaaS. Whether you’re in the metropolitan areas surrounding San Francisco, Boston, or London, if you’re a product manager at a software company, your job is pretty much going to be the same, right?

Well, yes . . . And no.

The product manager role is full of nuance, and as you’re about to discover, there’s plenty of variation based on where you are on the map.

For beer aficionados, you can find a parallel in the different styles of India pale ales, or IPAs: There are West Coast IPAs, New England IPAs, and English IPAs, all of which offer something a little bit different in terms of flavor. But on balance, they’re more similar than they are different.

That’s one of the biggest takeaways from our analysis. While West Coast, East Coast, and UK product managers all have distinct profiles, there’s more connecting them than separating them. Here’s a high-level look at what those three product manager profiles look like:

West Coast Product Manager

Pendo E-book: Battle of the PMs: West Coast Product Manager

East Coast Product Manager

Pendo E-book: Battle of the PMs: East Coast Product Manager

UK Product Manager

Pendo E-book: Battle of the PMs: UK Product Manager

Perhaps not surprisingly, product managers from the East Coast and West Coast of the US tend to have more in common with each other than with their UK counterparts, who, overall, have a much stronger focus on revenue and business success. This makes sense, of course, when you consider that UK product managers are more likely to report to individual lines of business.

However, East Coast and West Coast product managers are by no means perfectly aligned across the board. For example, West Coast product managers are more similar to their UK counterparts when it comes to sourcing ideas and making decisions:

Both lean heaviest on customer feedback during the decisionmaking process, whereas East Coast product managers are more likely to rely on internal feedback and the opinions of their teammates.

Keep reading for a more in-depth analysis of the key differences and similarities between West Coast, East Coast, and UK product managers.

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