The Chief Product Officer (CPO) Role: Responsibilities, Salary & Skills

When your product team faces challenges in crafting exceptional products capable of generating revenue for the company, you may be grappling with a leadership issue. This situation calls for the expertise of someone well-versed in product strategy and management — that’s where a Chief Product Officer comes in. 

While it may not receive the same level of attention as positions such as Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), Chief Technology Officer (CTO), or Chief Data Officer (CDO), a Chief Product Officer (CPO) holds equal importance in driving business growth. As the individual responsible for overseeing the product vision and strategy, the CPO plays a vital role in shaping the company's trajectory.

Let’s break down what it takes to be a CPO.

Who is the chief product officer? 

A Chief Product Officer is a C-suite executive in charge of the product department and the company’s product verticals. It’s the most senior product role in a company and more common in medium and large-sized organizations with multiple products that still need to be tied to the company’s overall vision. 

A critical part of what a CPO does is to outline the product’s vision statement and ensure that vision is shown in the products and has a meaningful impact on the customers and the company’s revenue.

In some companies (especially those with a single product), roles like VP of Product, Head of Product, or Director of Product, which are the most senior product roles, act as the CPO. 

The CPO’s responsibilities 

The role of a CPO is more strategic, involving lots of long-term thinking and cross-functional partnerships. Their responsibilities include:

Creating product vision 

As the head of the product department, a CPO designs the product's vision. This involves them thinking long-term and formulating a plan for the product’s future, better known as a product map, with a clear description of how to follow that plan.

This diagram from renowned product coach Christian Strunk shows how the product vision lays the foundation for other activities in the product department: 

A diagram of a product vision

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Overseeing strategy and execution

Beyond product mapping and coming up with the product vision statement, CPOs must keep track of the entire product lifecycle. This means taking the product from idea to reality. To do this, they’ll have to define a few things, including:

  • The KPIs for the product team
  • The technological framework for building the product (in collaboration with the CTO)
  • The marketing strategy (in collaboration with the CMO)

They also get to make the call on changes to a product’s prototype and approve iterations to an existing product. 

Ensure team cohesion

A lot of work happens amongst cross-functional teams when building a product. So, the CPO will have to look out for the interest of their team members, motivate the team, and head collaboration with external teams to deliver a good result. 

Handling product advocacy

Since they dictate the product vision, CPOs also have to be the biggest cheerleaders of the products in an organization. This will have them heading market research, working with the CMO on the best way to translate the product USP to consumers for best conversion, and even improving existing products for better results.

Providing mentorship

Apart from regular work obligations, a CPO also invests in the career growth of those under them by offering guidance. They also participate in the recruitment process for the product team, at least at the final stage. 

Becoming a chief product officer: skills needed 

If you walk your way up the project management career ladder, at the peak, you'll find a chief product officer handling all the strategy work and supervision that keeps the product department moving. 

This image depicts the product department hierarchy looks like.


But having years of experience as a product manager doesn’t automatically make one a good fit for this position.

To become a CPO, you’ll need at least a Bachelor’s degree in certain fields, often in a computer science or business background, though that varies depending on your industry. However, apart from the technical skills a CPO must have built over their career, soft skills are one of the differentiating factors hiring managers look for in a CPO candidate. 

Some of the skills a CPO must possess include:


The multifaceted role of a CPO as the head of the product department means such a person must be able to supervise, manage problems and be a people person. A CPO with great leadership qualities will also have a can-do spirit, willing to take responsible for mistakes, even on behalf of his team, and possess emotional intelligence. These skills put a CPO in the right position to take charge of the affairs of the product department. 


How well can a short-term activity or tactic hold up to long-term goals? Can the company’s current wins indicate the product stays viable long term? These are the questions that occupy the mind of a CPO, and which they must be able to answer to show their ability. 

Communication and collaboration

CPOs should be good communicators. They’ll need the skill to: 

  • Communicate the product’s vision to the company’s stakeholders.rovide feedback to the product team.
  • Report on strategy and plans to the CEO. 
  • Give direction to other product leaders. 

They should also be collaborative, as some parts of their role require some form of interface with the CMO and the CTO. This will enhance their chances of aligning the product department and making cross-functional team tasks easier. 

Analytical mindset

A CPO must be able to dig into data, analyze data sets and interpret them enough to create data-driven strategies. An analytical mindset will also help figure out product trends, customer needs, and product performance. 

(Both product analytics & behavior analytics can be helpful here.)


Remember when we mentioned that a CPO should be a product’s biggest advocate? Much of that advocacy is also focused on the customer. 

Everything a CPO does must be tied to making better products to keep customers satisfied and engaged. So, they must always have a pulse on the customer’s needs and complaints, which will be subsequently used in creating delightful products. 

Business acumen

At every point, CPOs must be able to tie every strategy and product iteration to the business goals. The ability to do this depends on the strength of their business acumen.


There are different issues CPOs will have to deal with daily. Could be within the executive team, company politics, or regular issues that occur at the product development stage, amongst others. Whatever the case, a CPO should be able to handle problems with a clear head.

Salary expectations for CPOs

Based on all we’ve discussed so far, you can tell that this role is highly critical to the growth of an organization. This is why like other C-suite roles, they are usually one of the top earners in an organization.

Glassdoor reports that the average base pay for a CPO role is $194,554. This excludes other benefits like cash bonuses, commissions, tips, and profit sharing that can push the total compensation package to $334,900.

The different salary ranges featured on these sites are based on different factors like company size, candidate’s years of experience, skill level and location.

  • Salary.com sets the range for a CPO role at $247,301 to $296,901 annually.
  • Builtin pegs the salary range at $230,747, which comes with an expected cash bonus of $85,000.
  • Comparably, another salary review site gives a CPO total salary package of $239,190, which includes an annual bonus of $75,000.

Final thoughts

The CPO role has become more relevant as more companies rely on product innovation to drive business growth and gain an edge over their competitors. With a CPO handling product strategy, driving creativity and ensuring cohesion, your product team will have more chances of unlocking productivity levels that have a direct impact on the business revenue.

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Blessing Onyegbula is a freelance content writer. She writes on self-development, finance and marketing, and she is particularly interested in SaaS startups.