In our latest addition to the Success Stories blog, we feature Akash Hebbar, who is a Product Manager at INDMoney. He shares his story of switching from Data Science and then landing a role in the Product Management industry. Get to know more about him as he guides us through this amazing process.
Q1. Tell us about your current role and background.
I am a Product Manager with INDMoney. I’m a mechanical engineer by training. But I was lucky I got into data analytics followed by spending a couple of years with a Data Analytics startup in Bangalore, where I’ve never been working with SQL, Python and data science.
Post that I moved to Amazon in 2019, where I was a Program Manager, and within Program Management, I was lucky to work within multiple domains. I spent about two years in Customer Service and Process Improvement, and then I moved to supply chain technology.
So I picked up a bit of flavours of data analytics and project management there as well and post that, I recently moved to Product. So I joined INDMoney as a Product Manager in the US stock space and I joined in January 2023.
The current role is more about looking at what problems US customers face, and then trying to build features around it and make the customer experience better.
Q2. What challenges did you face while exploring a Product Management role?
So I think it’s one problem that everyone was looking to transition into product faces, and that is you have a lack of core product experience. So I think I wasn’t eligible for that in Amazon.
So at least three to four years of prior product experience is necessary, and finding that within non product teams at Amazon was pretty hard. I had multiple interviews which I think I’d given about 10-20 product interviews before this.
And most of those had the feedback that ‘if this was a program management position, then we probably would have hired you, but you’re looking for someone with more experience’.
Positioning, whatever experience I had, as product experience was like the major challenge. And similar with tech as well. Some product roles are very tech heavy, they insist on people with a tech background that I come from mechanical engineering, which has no relation to tech at all but all my work experience was in data and analytics.
I think that helped me a little bit.
Q3. How has Product Management helped you in your new role?
There’s a lot of content out there, which sort of stresses on ‘think of the customer first’. And I think my experience at Amazon definitely helped them because the customer obsession is like the number one leadership principle there. And they always insist on working backwards from a customer’s experience.
That particularly helped even in the interview process, you’re always thinking from a customer’s point of view, and then trying to say this is how their journey interacting with the product should be and this is how you can optimise for customer experience.
So thinking along those lines, and always putting the customer first definitely helped.
Q4. What was the interview experience at your current company?
I has to go through 3 rounds of interviews, namely:
- Round-1: Interview with a Technical recruiter
- Round-2: Interview with the Director of Product
- Round-3: Case study
The first round was with a Technical recruiter. So it was basically to understand what my previous experience was, and whether that was transferable to product management.
What helped me the most was that I was able to present my work experience with engineers, before I had done the entire journey of picking up a tech requirement, then business requirements and then translating them into technical requirements for engineers.
But then conveying that I was able to actively work with tech, was mostly what the interviewer was looking for as an answer.
The second round was with the Director of Product in the company. It was a mixture of both metrics and case studies. I was asked to pick up any one product and then say, how would I go about improving it.
Here you have to make sure your products highlight the core customers of the product, this is how they currently interact with it. This highlights the multiple pain points. Then you suggest features around it.
After this one should prioritise what the best feature should be and why it’s the best. This round with the Director of Product was just a generic case study and basically a couple of metrics based questions.
The final round was about the review of product data. This was similar to the case study round. The interviewer wanted to understand my domain knowledge. I am very interested in personal finance and investing and actually have a YouTube channel as well.
It’s very amateur, but I think, basically showing interest in domain knowledge was what helped me so, I was able to say this is how I traded all these years. These are my views on personal finance. And this is how INDMoney has helped me in my personal finance.
Basically showing that I know the product, I know the value prop of the product and I was able to show depth of understanding there. So when you say this is your structure, this is your value prop in comparison to other people in the market and this is why I use your product.
Other questions were mostly around metrics. Because I have done analytics before, and my love for numbers and NLP are things that helped me.
Q5. Why INSAID? How did it help you?
Multiple people have asked me this question on LinkedIn and other other places as well. There is so much content online right now and everyone’s a product manager influencer.
If you jump onto LinkedIn and you type product management, you’re likely to be bombarded. Trying to find structure within all of that noise is really hard. And INSAID definitely helped me with that.
There is a very structured way of learning that sets INSAID apart. INSAID moves on to multiple technical aspects of product management to learn what wireframing is, how you can be, what you want the customer experience to be like.
INSAID definitely helped with giving me a structured learning path.
Waking up in the morning on weekends was the only issue for me, but apart from that, I think the capstone projects that we did, interacting with people with a multitude of experience was great.
I think in our cohort, we have people who have around 30 years of experience, and then you have people like me, who are coming in with literally four years of work experience.
With multiple like minded people who wanted to make the jump to product, definitely helped. I definitely recommend INSAID to people who are looking for structured learning.
Q6. What advice would you give to Product Management beginners?
Learning the difference between Product Managers, Program Managers will help with early execution of knowledge. Having in depth knowledge of the domain you want to work in helps you structure your interview answers and make the recruiters believe that you are the right person for the role. So read and strengthen your base as much as possible.
We hope you found this success story interesting. If you have any Product Management questions, please fill this form and we will get back to you.