Chief Product Officer

The Chief Product Officer (CPO) is to the business’s product what the Chief Technology Officer is to technology, or what the Chief Sales Officer is to Sales. The CPO must be a visionary and an avid evangelist of the product as well as a great leader and supervisor.

The responsibilities of the CPO are inclusive of product vision, product strategy, product design, product development, and product marketing. Similarly, the CPO must display strong influence in the manufacturing, distribution, procurement, and distribution departments.

The CPO essentially oversees every element of the product from its conceptualization to its launchand post-launch performance. The CPO is generally responsible for the building of a great product that avails a sustainable value in terms of revenue and profits for the business.

Objectives and Responsibilities of the Chief Product Officer

Leadership/Supervisory Role: The most prominent function of the CPO is to head the entire Product Management department. He plays a supervisory role to key product management officer such as the Director of Product Management, the Director of UX, the Head of Product Analytics, and the Director of Product Marketing. The CPO ensures that these key roles are being executed in the most efficient way possible, leading to the overall efficiency of the Product Management department.

Apart from being a supervisor, the CPO also plays a mentorship role for key product management personnel, constantly ensuring improvement in their professional skills and offering assistance in their duties upon request.

At this capacity, the CPO also leads the transformation of product ideas from their most formidable stages into actionable concepts, timelines, and projects while maintaining a serious consideration of the financial implications, marketing needs, and the overall objectives of the business. The CPO is the manager of the day-to-day execution of all product activities for the purpose of meeting the product and business’s goals.

Vision and Strategy: The CPO is responsible for the formulation of the Product Management department’s vision and also for imparting that vision in every sub-department and employee in the department. The CPO ensures that every sub-department is led by a unified and cohesive vision.

At this capacity, the CPO spearheads the product’s strategy formation as well as execution. The CPO creates and manages a process that drives toward a scalable product portfolio that will in turn drive the business’s product profitability. He also ensures that there is a continuous improvement in the product as well as the product’s compliance to market needs wrapped in a product experience that continuously and consistently delights the consumers.

The CPO, in this context, is also responsible for the identification of target consumer segments and markets. He also plays a leading role in evaluatingmarket trends, product industry, and competition strategies from which he can send recommendations on product pricing and positioning to junior product management officers. He also reviews, refines, and supports product sales strategies presented to him by junior product management personnel.

Marketing and Evangelism: As the head of the Product department, the CPO is also tasked with playing a lead role in marketing the product. The CPO acts as the lead evangelist for the business’s product leveraging the input of Product Marketing and Communications departments to assist him.

At this capacity, the CPO also coordinates the functions of product design, product maintenance, and product improvement, ensuring that the product resonates with the consumers and, therefore, boosting the product appeal to the consumers and in turn increasing the consumer base and sales volume. It is also the CPO’s duty to coordinate the local as well as international marketing communications, conferences, events, demos, press, and launches. He actively supports the product’s exhibitions, making speeches and presentations at conferences, meetings, and events.

In his marketing endeavors, the CPO will also meet and interact directly with current and prospective consumers in an effort to relay to them the product’s value and benefits while simultaneously sourcing feedback and assessing their reception and experience with the product.

Long-Term Culture: The CPO is responsible for the creation of a long-term business culture and Mode of Operation (MO). The CPO establishes the methodologies and procedures for conducting research, design conceptualization, prototyping, and product development across the entire product management department. The CPO also hones and grows sensibilities and skills across all disciplines of the department.

At this capacity, in order to ensure the efficient execution of functions across the entire product management department, the CPO also engages in the interviewing, recruitment, hiring, and mentoring of key product management personnel. He is also charged with the creation of anexciting, dynamic, and sustainable work environment that pulls in and retains talent in the department.

Research and Analysis: As the head of the entire product division, the CPO is expected to critic, refine, and make further recommendations on researches and analyses conducted by junior product management personnel. The CPO is also charged with the performance of various product analyses such as gap analysis in an effort to establish product differentiation and execution strategies that will lead to the product’s ultimate success. He also, conducts researches and analyses that lead to informed decision making on issues such as cost, utility, and timelines for product implementations.

Other Duties: The CPO will also conduct other duties as he deems necessary in the effective performance of his role or as directed by the business’s stakeholders and Employer.

Required Qualifications of the Chief Product Officer

Education: A candidate for the position of CPO has to have a Phd in Business Administration, Economics, Information Technology, Product Management, Marketing, Advertising, Psychology, Engineering or any other related field. An equivalent of this requirement in working experience is also acceptable.

Experience: A CPO must have has vast experience of over 10 years in a high ranking Product Management position, preferably as a Head of product Management in a complex business setting. A suitable candidate will also have diverse experience in the fields of product marketing, management, and communications. The CPO will also have experience resolving daily internal and external problems and challenges in product management positions that affect a product’s financial and market success.

Communication: It is an absolute necessity for the CPO to possess great verbal and written communication skills. The CPO makes numerous presentations to the business’s stakeholders reporting on various aspects of the product’s development, from marketing, research, analytics, management, and profitability. He will also make numerous presentations to junior product management personnel and any collaborating personnel in team building meetings as well as addressing consumers in conferences, events, clinics, and marketing initiatives. All this interaction, especially with the consumers, needs to be clear, concise, unambiguous, satisfactory, and fulfilling. For this to happen, the communication skills of the CPO have to be impeccable.

Leadership Skills: The CPO, must demonstrate exceptional leadership skills, after all, he is the leader of the Product Management department. The CPO needs to demonstrable a rich blend of analytical, creative, and strategic talents in order to win the confidence of his juniors who will then be more willing to follow in his directives and specifications. These qualities will also be needed in order to earn the confidence of the stakeholders and any external partners. The CPO will need to demonstrate an ability to effectively communicate, motivate, and inspire cross-functional teams with professionalism and clarity.

The CPO will also possess superior problem solving skills that quickly nullify any conflicts or complications in the product management department, enabling a smooth performance of functions and a reduction of delays. Essentially, the CPO will need to have a seemingly supernatural ability to make things happen around him.

Analytical skills: The CPO will also have to possess exceptional analytical skills that will be necessary for driving a successful product management department and lead the business and product to the achievement of its financial goals. The CPO will need to be able define and analyze numerous product metrics and know when and how to apply each in order to influence the success of the product. A suitable candidate will have an ability to think strategically and will possess a good eye for opportunities.

Interpersonal Skills: Certain interpersonal skills are a must-have for a CPO, for example; the ability to work independently and still retain a high level of self-motivation; a possession ofa high degree of professional as well aspersonal integrity; an ability to work effectively in a group setting  and the ability to that group in a unified direction; being detail orientated; superior problem solving and organizational and skills; and an ability to conceptualize, prioritize, and manage multiple projects with ease.

Software: The CPO has to conduct a great deal of high-priority reporting and presenting. In order to ensure that these presentations resonate to each audience in the best way possible, they have to be both verbally and visually engaging, sparking an audience’s interest, curiosity, and attention. The CPO must, therefore, be proficient in the use of computer softwares such as Illustrator, Dreamweaver, Fireworks, Visio, and Photoshop.

Ms Office: The CPO must be proficient in Ms Word and the Ms Excel analytical tools. He must also demonstrate expertise in the use of PowerPoint in order to create engaging content for presentations made to the business’s stakeholders, external business partners, collaborating department personnel, junior product management personnel, and most importantly, the consumers.

Career path