Product managers, product leaders, and product executives have no shortage of educational opportunities. From books, podcasts, and blogs to earning certificates and joining online communities, there is truly an abundance of options (read the short Guide to Product Management Resources to learn even more). For a unique fast track to learning and inspiration, however, conferences cannot be beat. We’ve written about the best conferences for product managers here—today let’s review the can’t miss conferences for product leaders (executives, C-Suite, and the like).
14 Can’t Miss Conferences for Product Leaders
There’s nothing like getting out of your day-to-day routine to be surrounded by other great minds. Unplugging can be hard. But it’s often well worth it when you get back to work with a fresh perspective and new ideas.
Product leaders can’t spend all their time globetrotting from one event to the next. Consequently, when loading up on conference swag, it’s important to choose wisely. To make it easy, we compiled a list of conferences specifically catered toward product executives and product leaders. In fact,with enough dedicated content, these conferences are even worthwhile for a senior product professional to attend.
The events range from large-scale conferences to smaller invitation-only opportunities, and many offer options to attend virtually. Of course, the 2020-2021 conference circuit looks very different from a typical cycle — many events have been postponed or gone completely virtual during the pandemic. However, there are still many worth your time.
Without further adieu, let’s get to the list!
This Australian product management event from Brainmates offers something for everyone. It’s tailored to anyone involved in bringing products to market, from founders and heads of product to UX designers and product owners.
The conference is structured around the “7 Ps of Product”—Problem, Purpose, Position, Price, Practice, Promotion, and Performance.
The goal is to help product teams “rise above the day-to-day slog and truly think through what makes a successful Product and how to make it happen.”
The 2020 edition is a virtual, one-day event.
Software as a Service has become the predominant business model for B2B software. This conference is dedicated to helping SaaS executives, founders, and entrepreneurs of enterprise software companies ramp up their subscription revenue. This event grew as an outcropping from the highly popular SaaStr blog started in 2012 by EchoSign’s Jason Lemkin.
Not only does the 100% virtual 2020 agenda include 50+ sessions over two days, it also offers thousands of one-to-one virtual networking opportunities. Not to mention, there is also the opportunity to find mentors and participate in intimate sessions with experienced SaaS veterans and inspirational leaders.
This event may have gotten its start as an ancillary part of the Agile+DevOps Leadership Summit, but for Agile product leaders, this is the main event. Many Agile conferences and programs are dedicated to endorsing Agile as the end-all, be-all solution to everything, but this summit cuts through the polish and gets real.
Agile in practice has its own share of ups and downs, and this event confronts the truths about what works and what doesn’t. Industry vets offer up their own experiences along with tips and helpful hints on how to make Agile work better at attendees’ own organizations. The open exchange and “think tank” approach creates a unique forum for straight talk about what it takes to execute Agile in the real world.
Vendor summits typically don’t make the list, but when your suite of tools includes so many items commonly featured in product stacks around the world, it’s worth paying attention. In this case, Atlassian isn’t just showing off its products, it’s bringing together well-known speakers covering a myriad of topics such as building and managing teams, the future of work, Agile, business transformation, IT, and product development.
If you can’t wait for the 2021 edition, there’s also a grab-bag of quality on-demand webinars featuring subjects like maintaining velocity at scale, Agile metrics, and continuous delivery.
Some conferences are all about presenters putting on their best face and covering up all the dents and wrinkles behind the scenes. JAM puts pretense on a shelf and gets real about the hard work, failures, and obstacles the rest of us face as we try to lead our product teams to success.
Its mission “to unlock the potential in every maker through the power of real-life experiences” unpacks the trials and tribulations teams experience en route to successful products (or total flops) with a curated selection of speakers to learn from, including veterans from the likes of Mailchimp, Google, BBC News, Facebook, and Mozilla. The goal is both education and community-building, as we can all benefit from sharing experiences and lifting each other up to greater success.
If you’ve made it to the top of the product management pyramid, then this event is an opportunity to connect with your exclusive cohort of peers. Reserved almost exclusively for product professionals in the senior management ranks, the Chief Product Officer Summit allows attendees to hear from fellow top product folks.
From startups to enterprise-class outfits, they dedicate the conference to what it takes to lead product management and strategy for the entire organization. From building cultures of disruptive innovation to balancing the needs of the product with those of the business, every topic is in the wheelhouse of the product executives attending and presenting.
This conference is organized by Product School and focuses on sharing best practices in various industries from best-in-class firms such as Netflix, Airbnb, and Amazon. Its unique format includes five local conferences each year in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Seattle, and London. Online attendance options also provide an opportunity to network outside your current home base.
The speakers are all product executives at their respective firms and offer up relatable lessons and insights for their fellow product leaders in the audience. The April 2021 fully online edition is free to attend.
The Product Management Festival has both an APAC and European edition, with presenters from the likes of Shopify, Spotify, and Facebook. These product leaders are all there to talk about topics uniquely relevant to the product management discipline.
Occurring more frequently are PM Nights. They host these local, intimate product management events around the world and give local product executives a chance to network and swap stories about their times in the trenches.
Female product leaders looking for a forum that emphasizes the unique challenges and opportunities for women in this profession have a home with Women in Product. Not only is it a thriving community full of content, peer support, and mentorship, Women in Product also boasts a robust event calendar to round out its ecosystem of supporting and connecting members of its community.
These events range from meetups among the 27 local chapters to a global conference featuring the top female product management leaders. Their mission is to not only support women in product and encourage others to join the ranks, but also to help shape policies at organizations of all shapes and sizes to be inclusive and foster upward mobility for promising female talent.
The Product Leaders Forum hosts several events in India, including their Global Congress, along with some in Silicon Valley in the U.S. This conference has targeted sessions and speakers for product managers, business leaders, and technology marketers.
Its focus on entrepreneurs and corporate innovation makes it an ideal event for those in Southern Asia looking to drive change within larger enterprise environments or deliver the products those people need to succeed.
This invitation-only event gathers 120 product leaders for a conference by and for product executives. This intimate setting features top product talent from Facebook, Intercom, OpenTable, and Square. If you’re lucky enough to score an invite, it’s a must-attend event.
12. Product World
Billed as the largest product management/product developer conference in the world, Product World is all about getting stuff built. The focus is on the tools, methodologies, and processes high performing product teams need to get the job done.
Dedicated round tables for product managers in specific industries offer an amazing networking opportunity. There’s a track dedicated to product teams and their various roles. Product leaders can go home with new tips and tricks to more effectively manage their organizations.
The Product-Led Festival is an online-only event with a singular focus on product-led growth. The impressive roster of 50+ speakers includes product leaders from Intercom, MasterClass, Microsoft, Drift, ZenDesk, and GrubHub.
The agenda includes multiple sessions in nine main topic areas: Product-Led Growth, Go-To-Market, Customer Success & Onboarding, Metrics & Measurement, AI & Machine Learning, Product Leadership, Achieving Scale, B2C, and Team & Talent. And since you can stream any session at your convenience, there’s no rush to see them all (and no excuse not to).
The best product leaders have a comprehensive understanding of the current landscape and a keen eye on the horizon. For technology product leaders, this conference is an instant download of all the new tech, trends, and terminology you need to navigate the uncertain waters before you.
Gartner is a leader in research and analysis of tech verticals and markets, and the Tech Growth & Innovation Conference informs attendees about the “most pressing challenges facing technology providers today, and the technology trends that are impacting your business.” Attendees will also learn about leading innovation within their organizations, the best high-growth opportunities and competitive strategies, and how to build effective partnerships.
Whichever you choose, make the most of it
There are no bad choices among these events.. The most important thing is to get out there — whether it’s online or eventually IRL — and engage.
Fresh perspectives, new ideas, and network building at conferences for product leaders are energizing and inspiring. Then comes the fun part of incorporating what you’ve learned into everyday leadership of your product team.