4 Skills That Every Product Owner Needs & Advice for Securing the Role, According to an Expert

April 29, 2024


Emily May

Product ownership is an intriguing career path for those with a strategic mind and an eye for detail. 

However, to sustain the high demands of a product owner role, you need a few skills to supersede expectations, and we interviewed an expert on the ICAgile team to gain a high-level perspective on the topic. 

In this article, we define the four skills that determine excellence in product ownership and quick tips for securing a role in the field. 

What Is a Product Owner?

A product owner is a strategy-focused leadership role that guides a product idea from start to finish. They steer the product direction and prioritize feature releases to ensure goal alignment, efficiency, value delivery, and feedback collection for continuous improvement. 

“I’ve always thought of a product team like a three-pronged system,” says Robb Reid, Senior IT Manager at ICAgile. He describes the product owner as “the brain of the operation,” while the scrum master oversees processes, and the team efficiently completes the work. 

The Four Essential Skills That Every Product Owner Needs

We tasked Reid with outlining the core competencies required to be a successful product owner and conceptualize products people love.  


Vision is at the heart of the product owner role. Reid stressed that a product vision is not “the big bang approach,” expecting to jump from point A to point B immediately–a common misconception. Instead, an effective product owner employs their visionary skills to build a product roadmap and distribute the work evenly across iterations, releasing new product features with time. 

Further, the product vision needs to translate to agile-themed tasks. These tasks are “small, negotiable, achievable, and provide business value within a given time frame,” says Reid. 

A product owner must be able to envision the end result of a product and the individual steps to get there, be open to adaptation throughout the journey, align the process with agile methodologies, and set realistic and attainable goals for their product team. 


Product owners need autonomy to accomplish their vision effectively. “Everybody has stakeholders, including product owners, but they should be able to do their work without needing to say, ‘let me check on that,’ because that’s an anti-pattern,” explains Reid. 

It’s in the best interest of internal and external stakeholders for organizations to trust their product owners and grant them authority in making decisions to keep the product moving forward–this can be a helpful topic to discuss in the interview process. 

Reid adds that when given proper authority, product owners must know how to handle that power and translate their vision to the team. “I’d be looking for a leader–someone who is confident and can think quickly and strategically.” Product teams will have many questions along the journey, and it’s up to the product owner to have those answers.

Business Domain Knowledge

Product owners must have existing business domain knowledge or be willing to become experts within the industry they sign on to. Reid explains that a deep understanding of the respective field and its nuances is critical to a compelling product vision. 

For example, a product owner with several years of experience in telecommunications will excel at building a vision for these products. 

However, don’t let a lack of industry knowledge deter you from applying for a job. “If they have the right mindset, somebody without that pre-existing knowledge can learn it,” explains Reid. Being a quick learner with exceptional listening and comprehension is essential. 

Further, agile ways of working support the learning process with quick feedback mechanisms and plenty of cross-collaboration. 

Customer Centricity

User-centricity is a prerequisite for a role in product ownership. The product journey is not just about numbers–product owners build solutions for their end users. 

“ROI is an ingredient, but it’s not the only ingredient; make sure that you’re also pleasing the customer and giving them what they need,” states Reid. A product owner’s responsibility is to embody user-centricity and pass that tone down to their team to inspire products that customers will return to again and again. 

Customer-centricity also extends to internal communication about products. For example, when sprint planning and managing the backlog, the descriptions of features and requirements should directly translate to user benefits. In managing user stories rather than tasks, product teams have a direct mental connection to how their work helps the customer. 

Helpful Tips for Your Job Search

Product ownership encompasses a highly sought-after skill set, and businesses are seeking competent and effective professionals to fill this role. 

To spruce up your resume and improve your job search, follow these three tips:

Practice Creating Backlogs

Creating backlogs is a skill and not something inherently known,” says Reid. He recommends that product owners practice breaking concepts into digestible pieces and finite business value. 

A product owner doesn’t want a user story to be too big or too small–there’s a balance that can only come with practice, he describes. 

In the process, Reid reminds product owners to keep “the three C’s” in mind:

  • Card: represents the user story
  • Conversation: represents the negotiation between the product owner and the team when defining the user story
  • Confirmation: represents the explicit acceptance criteria negotiated in the conversation

Look for Roles in the Right Places

Reid recommends looking for product ownership roles in creative industries. “The industries that are experimenting need the most help,” he says. Don’t be afraid to take risks and apply to companies trying something new and out of the box. 

Additionally, to get a foot in the door, job seekers should also seek roles within their industries of expertise. Let’s say you have experience in the medical field, and a project within the sector pops up on your radar. With an established business domain knowledge, less training and learning is involved, making your candidacy more marketable to the said business. 

Reid illustrates that with pre-existing knowledge and a user-centric mindset, all a product owner needs is the authority to succeed.

Take a Course

Whether you need to brush up on your knowledge or are switching careers and just beginning your product ownership journey, taking a course is an excellent step forward in marketing yourself to potential employers. 

We recommend investing in a learning program that provides practical and engaging knowledge that can be implemented within your current or future product team. Download the learning outcomes for the Agile Product Ownership and Agile Software Design certification courses to understand the real-world skills you’ll take away from these classes. 


A successful career in product ownership commands a delicate balance of vision, authority, domain knowledge, and customer-centricity. Lifelong learners never stop honing these skills, and the educational journey never ends–that’s the exciting part. 

If you found this article valuable, consider sharing it on LinkedIn to help others on their product ownership journey. We hope to see you in one of our courses soon!

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Product Ownership, Agile Product Ownership, Product Strategy

About the author

Emily May | ICAgile, Marketing Specialist
Emily May is a Marketing Specialist at ICAgile, where she helps educate learners on their agile journey through content. With an eclectic background in communications supporting small business marketing efforts, she hopes to inspire readers to initiate more empathy, productivity, and creativity in the workplace for improved internal and external outcomes.