Debate

Are Industry Conferences Useful for Product Managers?

You know your industry is on fire when there are more conferences going on than you can possibly attend. Well, you could quit your job and just conference hop; you might learn a lot. But you also might suffer from best-practice poisoning.

Is it worth it to miss a day of work (or two, or three) to go to a conference? 92% of our poll takers said YES. Yes, in all caps. Our debaters were more skeptical — it depends on the conference, they say.

Well, we’ll admit this was a little bit of a leading question. If you’re reading this, you probably know that we’re putting together the first ProductCraft conference, taking place just a month from today. And this conference is meant to quell the exact concerns shown by our debaters. So if you’re a senior product leader looking for a place to grow and network with peers, we’ll see you there.

Depends

Not always. It depends so much on the conference and the situation.

David Schwartz
VP Product, Wix
Depends

It depends what you mean by "industry." If you mean the product management industry, I would say its generally of low value to senior PMs and high value to junior PMs as a way to ramp up or cross over from another function they may be moving over from (CS, product marketing, or engineering). This would supplement the coaching they're getting from their manager.

On the other hand, industry conferences related to the domain the PM is in are usually high value to both junior and senior PMs as a way to quickly ramp up their knowledge in that domain and supplement their functional skills as PMs with subject matter expertise. It helps them gain user/partner/general ecosystem empathy.

Camilla Velasquez
Head of Product and Marketing, JustWorks
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