Is it more important for a product manager to have product management or industry experience?

This is an age-old question that is particularly important in hiring decisions. Is it better to take a candidate with strong product chops or a subject matter ninja? The answer is, of course, contextual. Some positions require deep domain expertise for a candidate to add value. However, in general, our experience has shown that a product manager can come up to speed on a new domain much faster than it takes someone to understand “product” (we’re consultants so we learn new domains all the time while the meter is ticking).

Very often, we encounter organizations of all sizes and maturity levels that could benefit from someone who has experience applying *the science of product management*. This knowledge and experience takes years to develop. If we think of an artificial case in which one candidate is a successful PM but the other knows the domain, we believe you should carefully consider opting for an infusion of product knowledge and experience. In this case, you’ll need a clear plan for the PM to come up to speed on the domain. You are likely to find that their product knowledge and experience are immediately valuable and that the overall value they provide will grow quickly as they come up to speed on the domain.