Ode to a Non-Technical Product Manager

Hunter Walk
3 min readJun 16, 2014

Earlier this week an aspiring product manager sought counsel, wondering whether as a “non-technical product manager” he had any hope of succeeding. Of course, in this case he’s a college senior who “only” knows CSS, HTML and beginning level PHP — a set of skills which already put him in the global one percent.

What he really meant was “can I be a product manager without being trained as an engineer or having otherwise acquired major hacking skills?” My answer? “Yes. As a “non-technical product manager” I have my own personal bias, but let’s examine the notion that only CS majors make good product managers.

What Is A Product Manager?

  • Project Manager: Make sure the trains run on time, team is functioning well.
  • Product Manager: Help a team produce world-class products which delight your users and support a sustainable business model.
  • CEO: No matter how junior or senior a product manager you are, you must think like CEO. The buck stops with you. You tell me marketing failed to deliver? You share that responsibility. You tell me sales team had misaligned goals? Why didn’t you raise that issue earlier?

The best product managers possess a broad set of skills which allow them to somehow manage wearing these multiple hats. The distribution of…



Hunter Walk

You’ll find me @homebrew , Seed Stage Venture Fund w @satyap . Previously made products at YouTube, Google & SecondLife. Married to @cbarlerin .