Group Product Manager VS Director of Product — Roles and Responsibilities

The following insight was written by Melissa Chenok, Group Product Manager at Quorum. 

I have searched for information on the Group Product Manager (GPM) role and responsibilities a number of times and the only article that I have found to be helpful is the Silicon Valley Product Group (SVPG — Marty Cagan’s organization) article on “The GPM role”. This post is helpful but doesn’t go into depth about the responsibilities and goals of a GPM and also doesn’t differentiate substantially between a GPM and Director of product in regard to responsibilities. I have outlined my understanding of the latter below!

The core differentiator between a Group Product Manager and Director of Product is that a GPM is both an individual contributor and also the head of product for a given product area, managing a few individual contributor PMs. Directors of product are responsible for leading the product organization for a larger product vertical, managing a larger team of PMs and setting strategy for the organization. (*Every organization is different and every role is different — some directors have no people management responsibilities and others are solely people managers, what i’m including here uses the definition of directors having people management and product vertical responsibilities).

Group Product Managers often manage other individual contributors depending on the size of the business while also being an individual contributor and will report to the head of product/chief product officer. They are responsible for product strategy for a single product or area of products and build process for their product area and the product managers that they manage.

Directors of Product must build a strong team of product managers and are responsible for the company’s overall product strategy related to their product vertical and more commonly, they oversee various products in the company’s portfolio.

Both Group Product Manager and Director of Product are enablers, mentors and often bring process. Their job is to guide, and remove roadblocks while establishing expectations and goals. Both roles need to trust in their PM’s ability to execute and need to be the uniting force that ensures success.

See below for a high level skill matrix breaking out some key skills between GPM and Director of Product broken out into “People”, “Product”, “Values” (*Non comprehensive).

People Management skills for GPM vs Director of Product
Product Management skills for GPM vs Director of Product
Values for GPM vs Director of Product

What are your thoughts? Does this line up with your organizational structure and the roles & responsibilities of these roles where you work and from what you’ve seen? How would “Product manager, manager” fall into this breakdown? Would love to update this with additional perspectives!

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Melissa Chenok