Could an ID graduate go into product management?

My question is straight forward

Do you believe, that a graduate of industrial design could go into product management , and does an ID degree give him the advantage to do so?

I find that I’ve become fairly interested in products more than just their design, I’m in need of particular insight from this community as to if it’s possible to sway away from the design side of the products to the more marketing and other development side. Much appreciated.


In general, no.

Product managers will either have a marketing degree or will have come through sales.

Developing a product and selling a product are 2 different monsters.

Of course, having the upstream experience of product development can aid in the downstream marketing of a product, but they are really 2 different skill sets.

In the outdoor industry I have run across ID grads who are product mangers. It is up to you if that is a direction you want to take. It is very different from ID. There is some over lap. But outside of doing market research there is pretty much no overlap.

In my experience: yes. Esp if the organisation is driven by product people and new product development in a central process. Meaning a product manager will have a central role in deciding what products need to be developed, and be able to to have an idea how to do it and what it will cost. Some product managers get down to the nitty gritty like meeting with suppliers and deciding details.

Although I will say this: one PM I’ve worked with with ID background was great to work with and very open to new ideas, but the products failed to generate the desired market penetration and thus profit. And another PM that was very heavily involved in the design and development ended up with a product costing much more than the business case target. Both were sort of wrong people for the task.

Could you? Yes. Would you necessarily be good at it? It depends.

I’d say that many times, designers are “too close” at heart to products to be willing to make compromises that might be good for the product and the company.

Think of it like how a record producer works. A good record producer will tell an artist “this is good, but you really need to change this part”. The artist doesn’t want to change that part, they spent days toiling over the lyrics/notes/arrangement, etc. Now they might begrudgingly make the change and go platinum, or flop either way.

Sometimes that arrangement works, and sometimes it doesn’t. Some artists have made quite a career out of listening to no one but their own internal compass. And some artists have made careers out of pumping out the same mind bulging crap over and over. To say you can’t do it isn’t fair, but to say you’d be good at it because you are a designer isn’t fair either.

The best designers I think must be product managers. We are the business (stress business) of making things for commercial success of a product/brand/company. We must be able to have a handle on all things that involves from design to consumer demand, economics and marketing. Those that do can be successful, those that don’t make pretty things that nobody buys.

Design is a tool, not and end result.

In my business I not only design, but handle development, commercialization, production and marketing. While factors other than design may be looked at as a compromise (ie. design for manufacture , cost, range planning) its the sum of the parts and the integrated strategy that leads to success.

What he said.

In fact myself I have developed my “career” out of product design into product management,
brand management and so on.

But the formula was the amalgamation of design and business savvy [Degrees and
experience in both fields.]

Of course it CAN be done. IF you are interested in the path. I like the record producer
analogy above. In my eyes some of the most successful/ important artists like Mick Jagger
or " Puff Daddy" have developed themselves out of the artistic details into the bigger
picture. It is not for everyone. Most artists get stuck in the details.


Alright, great analogies and responses and I do see a designer being caught up in making his baby look perfect without getting affected by the business side.

I have been thinking about minoring in marketing to get myself into that business way of thinking.