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A VP of Product, also referred to as Director of Product Management or Chief Product Officer, is a senior executive who leads a company's product development efforts.

They’re essentially the head honcho of the product management team, responsible for the big-picture vision and strategy of the company's products.

They work closely with various teams, including product development, marketing, and sales, to shape the product's vision and deliver it to the market successfully.

Depending on the company, some are more sales-driven and others are technically oriented. In this article, we’ll go over what they do and how much they earn.

What is a VP of product?

A Product Manager is a generalist tech leader who has a good understanding of the technical vision, sales roadmap, and marketing initiatives of a company and binds those teams together to take a product to market.

VPs of product manage teams of product managers and determine roadmaps for getting products and features into the market.

In a startup environment, however, VPs of Product are responsible for taking the initial product to market and liaising between the co-founders, CTO, salesperson, and marketing executive.

What does a VP of product do in a startup?

A VP of Product will help develop a product, prepare it for launch, and manage the product lifecycle.

The VP of Product will also communicate and report to stakeholders and clients to make sure their needs are being met. Other duties include:

  • Developing product roadmaps and setting deadlines for launch
  • Creating budgets
  • Determining and resolving operational issues
  • Implementing product management software, like Jira or Notion to give the wider team structure and goals in their day-to-day activities
  • Leading the team toward a product goal from start to finish
  • Updating stakeholders on the latest product developments
  • Collecting feedback from clients or users and relaying it to the relevant team
  • Collaborating with business partners

What skills should a VP of Product have?

Vice Presidents of Products set up the strategy of a product, manage the team delivering it, and get first-hand verdicts of what their customers think.

Although the list is not exhaustive, here are a few common skills:

Technical skills

The VP of Product will have a good understanding of the technology of the company. They may not all have CS degrees but they do know the technical complexities of the product and can communicate that with the development team.


It is the VP’s job to ensure that the entire company understands the vision and direction of the product. Even though that responsibility is sometimes shared with the CEO, the VP of product has a responsibility to communicate the company’s strategy across teams.

A good VP helps their team understand what role each person plays and how to collaborate to achieve their product goal.

Customer empathy

Building a product is all about solving a problem. This means that a VP of product is extremely well-versed in knowing what the end users and customers face. They can see everything from a customer's perspective and convey the customers needs and wants to the wider team.

Business acumen

VPs understand the financial aspects of product development and make data-driven decisions to enhance growth. After all, they’re tasked with running the function of the business and are the first point of contact if things hit the fan.


The best VPs are never satisfied and are always wanting to do more. They ask tough questions, read, research, and are always looking to leverage their insights and make predictive decision-making.

What qualifications should a VP of Product have?

While there is no specific degree requirement, a bachelor’s or master’s degree in business administration, computer science, or a related field can provide a solid foundation for the role.

Having a technical background helps if it’s a technical product. For example, you’ll often need to be a machine learning product manager to work at a company dealing with Robotics.

Other than that, founders and CEOs tend to look for those with some type of business degree.

In addition to that, many have Product certifications like:

  • The Product Development and Management Association (PDMA)
  • Product School’s Product Management Certification

Career path

VP of Products will often start by working as an Associate or Junior Product Manager, which are entry-level roles where they gain foundational skills in product development, user research, and project management and work on projects under the guidance of senior product managers.

From there, they’ll be promoted to Product Manager and take on more responsibility, managing a product or feature area from ideation to launch.

As they gain experience, they’ll be promoted to Senior Product Manager where they will lead a team of product managers and own a larger product area, and focus on developing long-term product strategy.

After a few years of managing multiple senior product managers, they'll move onto an executive role, VP of Product, and take over the entire product strategy across the company, managing the product roadmap, and building high-performing product teams.

The time it takes to reach the VP of Product level can vary depending on experience, skills, and the company but it typically takes 7-10 years.


The average salary for a VP of Product in 2024 is:

Zippia: $183,231
Product School: $199, 563
Built In: $217,391
Comparably: $254,994
Glassdoor: $195,110

Salary: $292,416

The average: $223,784

Top 3 interview questions to ask a VP of Product:

1. Beyond the features and functionalities, how do you envision this product evolving in the next 3-5 years to stay ahead of the competition and address future user needs?

2. Imagine a situation where different stakeholders (sales, marketing, engineering) have conflicting priorities for the product roadmap. How would you approach this situation to ensure alignment and deliver the most valuable product features?

3. Describe a time you had to make a crucial product decision based on user data. How did you interpret the data, and what was the outcome of the decision?

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