What is product management?
While asked from the Aalto University students during the start of the year 2020, the answers were merely surprising.
'Most of the students I talked to did not recognise the term,' says Niko Laukkanen, the course assistant and co-creator for the new introductory course on product management, TU-EV0009 - Introduction to Product Management.
Being an Aaltoes board member and an active voice in the Aalto University's entrepreneurial community, Laukkanen realised that he had recognised a significant bottleneck preventing the student startup ecosystem from growing.
'There are a variety of significant challenges in our startup ecosystem, but this lack of awareness amongst students is certainly one of them.'
Concurrently, Dr. Mikko Jääskeläinen from the Department of Industrial Engineering and Management, having specialized in high-growth entrepreneurship, also knew about the challenge prevailing within the student community and the startup scene.
“Product manager is a role that’s becoming increasingly relevant in fast growing companies. Product management keeps development on tracks, tying together engineering, design, and business development. This is not a trivial skill and lack of experienced product managers is a problem for the Finnish startup ecosystem”, says Jääskeläinen.
'The thought of creating education around the domain had been going around at the Department of Industrial Engineering and Management for some time.'
'Knowing about the challenges lowered the barrier to take action to try to find a common solution,' Laukkanen says.
'After a few discussions and recognizing that we have the same ambitions, it was clear that the project should be carried out as a common effort,' says Jääskeläinen.
Niko connected with Mikko regarding the potential collaboration project, and after multiple discussions, the two decided to pursue the course creation.
After months of work, the project has epitomized into an introductory course on product management that will be piloting in the second period this autumn.
A coherent view of product management
The course gives the students a coherent view of product management, why it is essential, and how it should be generally carried out in companies.
To ensure the relevance of the course material, it is created in collaboration with the leading product management professionals in Finland from product-led companies such as Unity, Wolt, Varjo, Oura, and Hoxhunt – to name a few.
The course is designed as an introduction to anyone looking into or interested in creating exceptional products. The course aims to develop an understanding of product management and its theoretical framework right from everyday operational management through to the creation of a high-level product strategy and vision.
'We are really looking forward to getting students aware of and enrolled in this course as well as, in the best case, excited about product management. It is an important domain in our increasingly globalising and competitive business landscape, and therefore, it is great to have education around it in Aalto', Niko concludes.