I belong to a middle class family from Tamil Nadu who grew up in Delhi. Though I studied Botany in my undergrad, I quickly moved to programming and IT. The industry was just starting to boom and I sailed with the wave. My early days as a consultant software developer helped me to build the customer empathy skills and I enjoyed solving their problem through our products/solutions.
After working as a techie for a decade, I decided to move into the Business side and become a PM. I have built and scaled global products for Large Enterprises at SAP with thousands of users to products for SMBs with millions of users. Last few years have been more deeply involved in FinTech Products in the area of KYC, Taxes, Payroll and Payments with organizations like Intuit, Societe Generale and PayPal.
It celebrate the experiences I have gathered working with some exceptional leaders, my teams and organization. I am strong believer of continuous learning and staying curious and this led me to join initiatives at NASSCOM, GHCI and other platforms to learn about the Industry trends , meet diverse sets of people and understand the start up ecosystem. I enjoy coaching, mentoring and teaching Product Management topics to aspiring PMs and also coaching start-ups.
What does your typical day look like?
Now that I recently started my journey as a Freelancing Product Consultant, I am doing and exploring a variety of topics in a day.
- I surely spend sometime reading online and offline content in the product, technology, political and other spaces.
- I engage with 1 or 2 start-ups based on their needs across strategy, roadmap, growth areas, GTM, Discovery etc
- I usually park sometime to have a coaching session with my mentees or students
- I have a new side-gig on Financial Literacy for young adults and I love to talk to my "customers" or spruce up the content
- I usually try to gather sometime to synthesize and pen my thoughts based on reading and talking during the day or that week. I strongly believe that writing is a very critical skill for a PM
- I love to network with other experts and professionals and try to catch up sometime on this.
Why did you choose to become a product manager? How do you see things differently than the rest?
I was an accidental PM as it was not a well known function during 2010. I loved learning and as much as possible experiencing the customer issues before deciding how to solve it. I always loved elements of problem solving, impact I can create with my work and products. PM is a vast function and provides a lot of variety based on the product, customer segments, product stage, organization and that always keep giving new challenges to solve for.
What's the one thing that you absolutely love about your job?
PM role has never ceased to surprise me or allowed me to get bored. With every different product and organization I have learnt tremendously and looking forward something new to learn every single day is something I absolutely love about this role.
What are some of the cool things that you are working on currently?
This is the first time that I am working for products in India and for India.
- Building the strategy and roadmap for an early stage start-up to build an intelligent lead generation system
- Creating workshops for financial literacy series for teenagers, young adults and Women
- Build the GTM strategy for an enterprise product
What are some of the emerging trends in your industry that excite you? And why?
The point that content, knowledge and access to these are democratized is very heartening. The aspect that there is increasing interest and awareness to learn and invest in new financial instruments amongst millennials is exciting. Web3 as the new platform will bring in a lot of changes in the way we operate and even build products Metaverse is and will be a great enabler in a variety of use cases
Do you follow any product/prioritization frameworks when making decisions? If yes, what are some of the top frameworks that you recommend and why?
Yes absolutely frameworks helps to compartmentalize and be very objective oriented and pragmatic while taking decisions. Product decisions need to be time bound and hence in a highly cross functional set up I lean on clearly defining a DACI or a RACI structure so that everyone is clear with their R&R. Building an operating model around it also helps in healthy collaborations. For backlog prioritization I have found the 2*2 model of effort vs impact or Weighted average to be most useful for the products I built. Following these kind of frameworks helps in getting all stakeholders aligned and agree on the right feature prioritization.
What’s the one tool you couldn’t do your job without, and which very few people know about?
As cliche as it may sound, the most important tool remains MS-Excel. I lean on it heavily for lot of my work around data representation, analysis, backlog shareout etc. Another set of tool I have heavily used is JIRA and Confluence. With the variety of integration offered it is extremely helpful for collaboration.
What's something that you learned/realized recently in your work journey that you wish you knew earlier?
I have always loved working as an Individual Contributor(IC) and my role as a PM allowed me to do this. I extended to work as an IC unless it started hindering my growth and then I stepped into people management role. It was only after I started doing active people management for a fairly larger team I realized how much I enjoyed doing this aspect of mentoring and coaching my team. I wish I had started doing this much earlier.
If you don't mind sharing, what's the one mistake you've done and will advise others not to repeat?
While I have always been up for challenges and new experience, there was this one time where it was just over a year that I had settled into a team and a product. My leader approached me to take over a new product that was getting transitioned to India and was set for high growth. I got a little complacent thinking I have just settled in my existing product so let me focus on it instead of this new role and refused my leader. But later on when I saw the opportunity and the impact that new product created, I regretted not taking it. So my advise is when an opportunity presents itself, think more pragmatically and holistically especially with an eye on your growth and learning when you are deciding.
What are some of your biggest inspirations that help you get up and do your best work?
I would say the amazing amount of innovation that I see happening around excites me to learn and see how I can contribute to it. I derive a lot of energy from people around me. I guess that keeps motivating me when I see people in my network succeeding in the work they do so passionately I am a life long learner and that helps me to stay curious and focus on my outcomes.
What would you recommend to people who want to start their careers in your space?
No amount of coaching, institutes or certificates can make you a good/great PM. You need to relentlessly work towards building your craft by taking more and projects, gigs and focus on doing rather than only reading. Stay focused, build as many products as you can in your portfolio, contribute to the community and that will help you to ace as a PM.
Any new companies you know of that you think are going to make a big difference, which we should keep an eye on?
We need more start ups that solve for basic problems of healthcare, sanitation, sustainability, alleviating poverty, climate change etc. Hence I would say we need to watch out for start-ups which are solving these grass root problems
Anything you want to promote or plug?
I am excited about this new chapter in my journey of starting as a Freelance Product Consultant and look forward to engage with more start-ups and make a difference in the Financial Literacy space with my venture FinWhiz.
Are you open to people new the industry reaching out to you for help?
Reach out to me at: