The Product People
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The Product People

Sanjeev Rao — The 5 What

Sanjeev Rao

Product Manager Intern, lives in Barcelona, Spain


I have dabbled in API testing, web development, and product management in my 5 years of experience. I initially worked for 2+ years at Accenture, then for 2+ years at a crowdfunding start-up, and currently as a product manager intern at a start-up in Barcelona. I am a guy who is learning the ropes of product management and trying to pivot into product management from a technical background.



The 5 What

What is the most valuable thing you carry with you from the beginning of your journey as a product person?

A user will not adopt everything that you thought they would like. If you are making users learn something new, something they have not seen or experienced before, the chances of them adopting the product feature goes down. Key: Make it simple for users to use the product, and actually solve a problem that they are facing.

What do you identify as a common thing among people working on product development?

Focus on metrics:
The product people are always looking at conversion, engagement, and other metrics that make sure any new feature introduced is gaining better traction with users than before.

The tech team will always keep an eye out for performance metrics such as page size, load time, and a number of requests, etc. that make sure that the page is optimized for performance.

While hypotheses are made in regard to various features, metrics are our eventual source of truth.

What do you think will be the next big trend in product development?

To develop products that benefits the user overall more than sucking into them right away. I recently read a book called “Hooked” which outlines the Hooked model for customer engagement. It touches upon triggers, actions, rewards, and investments which the products tap into. It gives really good insight for PMs to understand why and how users get hooked to products but the most interesting part of the book is towards the end that products should be made to benefit and enrich the user’s life rather than sucking them in. Currently, most companies design products to engage and immerse them, but I think eventually the tech industry will take the responsibility to design products that enhance people’s lives rather than trap them.

What have you learned recently?

As a PM at an early-stage start-up, it can get quite constrained both resource-wise and knowledge-wise to implement everything that we had planned. We don’t have a full-time developer and designer at our disposal, so the timelines for our releases sometimes get messy and delayed. Additionally, as a first-time PM, I don’t have the breadth of knowledge to implement everything from launching the platform, to integrating various analytics tools to marketing and bringing in traffic to the website. The learning curve can get quite steep if you are doing it alone, and it is helpful to stay in touch with PMs from other companies to stay informed as well as motivated, since results can take quite some time to deliver.

What would you like to say to the product people who are reading this text?

People who are trying to pivot to product management from development/data/marketing backgrounds will not have it easy initially. Most companies look for experienced product managers for hiring and promote internally for junior product roles. So it could be worth a look at other similar roles in the same company like Technical Product Management/Project Management/Program Management as entry points to the company, gain some useful skills and knowledge about the product and the company in these roles, and then move to product management.



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