Interviewing for Product Management positions

I thought of dedicating the next few blog posts to help the potential PM aspirants to try for job searches.

First off, there is no magic wand to get a job in Product Management. Here’s a checklist I had followed in past that had helped me so I presume it is still valid. Thoughts welcome!

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Product centres in India

There are many Product companies in India. Do they really do great work? Subjective. The non political answer is – it depends. Largely on the market for who the product is designed. It depends on the company’s product positioning on its global/local – as I call it – glocal map.

What does this mean and where does this role of a Product Manager fit in – in the India context? Let me elaborate.

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Lessons from Apple – What will it take to be a great product manager from India?

For starters, it requires a different way of thinking. It requires setting yourself apart. It requires strategic thinking, it requires us to trust gut instinct on what will work and what will not – when validation by facts is impossible, it requires excellent communication and presentation skills. It requires excellent analytical and logical reasoning skills, it requires great lateral thinking skills. It requires a great understanding of technology. It requires great management skills. It requires ‘influence without authority’ skills. It requires high levels of integrity and ethics, values. It requires directness/frankness, approachability. It requires business skills as a lot of it deals with product pricing, positioning, understanding customer segmentation, customer behaviour, customer needs and wants, requires reasonable level of understanding of product marketing/communcation/promotion, it requires high levels of hardwork, it requires partnering with engineering/marketing/sales to convey what is doable versus tradeoffs, It requires working across time zones. It requires travel. It requires persistence. It requires empathy for customers and a problem solving approach. It requires quick decision making. It requires the courage to call a spade a spade. It requires conviction and immense self belief. It requires the ability to say NO! It requires PASSION!

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Microsoft product aka ‘Program management’

I was recently speaking to folks from Microsoft.

Microsoft is a very successful product company so it is but natural (even to a die-hard Apple fanatic like me!) to first speak of Microsoft’s product management discipline called ‘Program Management’.

Microsoft’s Program Managers are very much product managers owning their product.

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What is Product Management?

A lot of people have asked me this question.

Product Management is all about building products that are valuable usable and feasible. The approach would be to follow a ‘top-down’ philosophy to start with an initiative (identify a real world problem), come up with features (that help solve that real world problem) that are valuable (customers will value every feature built), usable (the product is usable in terms or it’s user interface/design and the way it interacts with its customers) and feasible (identify the right set of tools/techniques/technologies to help solve that real world problem), and then if it is an Agile world, then build user stories that map to those features and deliver those features incrementally with a defined cadence producing shippable products constantly.

Only those products that solve a real world problem continue to exist in this world. There is no place for sub optimal products as they will die a quick death. Products are all about choices, emphasis of features and trade offs. Read more of this post