Do you want to be at the forefront of innovation in the Payments industry? Then heading up the Product Management department as a Chief Product Officer or CPO could be the job for you.
The role of Chief Product Officer is a relatively new addition to the C-suite. Yet it’s become an increasingly critical position, especially in companies that are product driven such as Payments software developers.
As far as Payments jobs go, this one really shapes the success of the company. After all, if the product isn’t up to scratch your marketing and commercial teams will have a tough time trying to market and sell your product. In this role you’ll be chief inventor, chief product evangelist and chief futurist to ensure your company’s products are constantly evolving, engaging players and generating revenue for the business.
Here we explore how to become a CPO and what to expect from this challenging role.
Typical Career Path A Chief Product Officer In Payments
CPOs are generally recruited from the Product Management department. Stepping up from a role such as Director of Product, VP of Product or Senior Product Leader is not uncommon. However, we also see CPOs being recruited from other areas of the business, as well as from outside the Payments industry. For example, recent CPO appointments include candidates who have come from marketing, IT and strategic business roles, as well as people from ecommerce and data technology services.
As the career path to CPO can often be from a marketing background, in some companies we’re also seeing the role of Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) being merged with the Chief Product Officer, and the CPO managing product development and marketing under one roof.
If you’re reading this at the beginning of your career in Payments or product management, you should know that most CPOs are degree educated. Science and engineering are common bachelor and masters degrees, although economics and business qualifications are also seen on some CPOs’ CVs.
What Makes A Great Chief Product Officer?
As with any C-suite role in the Payments industry, recruiters are looking for strategic thinkers and people who can drive the product vision and strategy. Companies want CPOs who can take their product to the next level, making them different and more engaging from the 'norm'. Hands-on experience of UX, or having a strong customer focus, is vital for a CPO role. Engaging and retaining customers is fundamental to the success of Payments operators.
As you would expect from a C-suite position, you’ll need to have accrued several years in a relevant role to be considered for the CPO job. Most job descriptions ask for at least 10 years, with Payments experience either a ‘must have’ or ‘highly desirable’. 3 years at executive level is also a common requirement.
Having a proven track record as a leader is extremely important. You’ll need to be able to motivate and inspire cross-functional teams with professionalism, and communicate the product vision and strategy with clarity so everyone is focused on a common goal.
Alongside your creative and strategic skills you’ll also need strong analytical skills. Data is shaping product development in Payments, so experience in data analytics is very desirable. As a CPO you’ll need to use data analytics to create a better Payments experience for customers, and work closely with business intelligence to gain deeper insights into how you can improve the product.
Other attributes that are high on recruiters’ must have lists include: decision making skills, problem solving, communication, business acumen and resilience. Read our blog post, Are You Ready For A C-Suite Role In Payments?, for more information about the attributes needed for a C-suite career.
Chief Product Officer Core Responsibilities
What does the Chief Product Officer do day-to-day? Below are the key functions and responsibilities of a CPO in the Payments industry:
1. Product Vision And Strategy
As a strategic business role, your main responsibility will be to translate the company vision and strategy for the product management department. That means defining the product vision and strategy so that it supports the overall company objectives. So, if the company vision is to make its operators more successful or to deliver the best payments experience, your job is to align the product strategy with this goal.
2. Supervise Product Leaders
The CPO is the head of the Project Management department so you will have a supervisory role managing the key product leaders. You’ll need to ensure that these roles are being executed efficiently and that the department is meeting all product and business targets.
3. Own The Product Portfolio And Roadmap
It is your responsibility to own the product portfolio, and design and implement the product roadmap. As a CPO you will be directly responsible for the development of the product, making sure each milestone is hit and it’s delivered on time. This starts with creating a culture of innovation to encourage product ideas from the team; then managing their transformation into actionable concepts, timelines, and projects. At the same time you’ll be balancing the financial implications, compliance and risk requirements, and the overall business strategy. You’ll oversee every product from its conceptualisation to its launch and post-launch performance, working closely with colleagues in other departments to deliver and monetise each product.
As the chief futurist as well as CPO, you’ll need to constantly review and challenge the product roadmap to keep ahead of industry trends and competitors, and be ready to innovate at any time.
4. Improve Methodologies And Processes
As a CPO you’ll explore ways to improve processes to streamline product development, drive efficiencies such as cost savings and enable the department to build a scalable product portfolio. You play a vital role in creating go-to-market products that drive revenue growth, making sure they are sustainable and can be delivered economically.
5. Product Improvement
The CPO is also responsible for continuous product improvement: always looking for ways to make the Payments experience better and also ensure existing products meet evolving compliance requirements.
6. New Markets
Along with other senior executives, you’ll identify and evaluate new market opportunities such as consumer segments and territories. As part of this role, your input into product pricing and positioning is especially valued as well as product gap analysis and competitors’ product analysis.
7. Mentor Your Team
You can’t single-handedly do all the above without a brilliant team of people around you. Therefore, mentoring key product management personnel is vital for your success as much as it is for the department and company. Your role is to support your team with CPD, inspire them to achieve more, help them lead their individual teams effectively and ensure they have the skills needed to drive the product vision and strategy.
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Do You Want To Become A Chief Product Officer?
The role of Chief Product Officer is evolving just like the product portfolio the CPO is responsible for. As a relatively new C-suite position, it can mean different things in different companies with overlaps between the Chief Marketing Officer role and the Chief Technology Officer.
As a result it’s an exciting position to be in, driving the success of the company, and so it can be a competitive market for candidates. If you’re ambitious and looking for a CPO role, register with Pentasia to be one of the first to hear about new opportunities.