In our latest addition to the Success Stories blog, we feature Divya Rao, who is a Product Manager and has been a part of GCPM, 2021 at INSAID. She shares her story of being successful and landing a role in the Product Management industry. Get to know more about her as she guides us through this amazing process.
Watch the video right here:
Q1. Tell us about your current role and background.
My name is Divya Rao and I have been an IT professional for the past 15 years. And I’ve mostly worked in service based companies and I’m about to take up a new role in a new organization. Currently, I play the role of a product manager.
So the current role that I play is a product manager. So I work for building automation solutions, and I mostly experience building B2B products.
So this has started off from, let’s say, the past five years, and I’ve been part of as many as six to seven solutions, development and marketing, if I can say, so that’s about me now. But I really did not get started off this way. So I started off as a professional. So
I’ve worked my way up and played various roles and got a chance to work on many projects, both manual and automation testing. So I used to lead a certain set of teams. And then I used to manage a certain set of teams for automation, and performance testing.
So my transition into product management happened about 4 ½ – 5 years back. So I was part of a team where we had requirements for such a role.
And I was absorbed, as my leadership saw, that I had the qualities that will be needed for a product manager.
So that’s how I got a break into this. And yeah, I think from that time, things have been more of learning and understanding and making the best use of the opportunity.
Q2. What challenges did you face while exploring a Product Management role?
So I think, like I said, my transition was more organic, right, so I don’t, I did not have to, I mean, the learning or the preparation happens sort of in two ways, like if you’re really yourself break into it, and that channel is a little different.
And you have to do some amount of work, both understanding product management, as well as making yourself or getting yourself that kind of opportunity. Second thing is, if you have an opportunity already, then how do you fit in?
What is the kind of learning or what are the kinds of things that you keep yourself ready with so that you are ready to perform? So I think I was fitting into the second set of rules.
I mean, because I already was absorbed, I had, there were a few expectations that people had, for me, there was an amount of process set up and the kind of expectations that I had to meet, I only had to learn that much to begin with.
So that kind of made it easier. So just to quote an example to make it easier for everybody. So if I started off as a product development manager, I would have to look at how I was going to create and manage a particular roadmap.
So, let’s say that was my first task as I took product management. So I got the opportunity to explore each of these aspects that come in the product development, or launch or product marketing as my product. Sort of.
They started building out for themselves, right? So I also got some time. So I was able to learn through the process and make the best of the time and opportunity as well.
Q3. How has Product Management helped you in your new role?
I think any new opportunity will. I mean, that’s my personal experience that it not just gives you ways of thinking or working, but it also has a lot of impact on your personal side of it.
So it’s not the way I think, to the way I operate the way I manage, I think is more structured now. So I really call myself more organized and structured because it gives that kind of a framework.
When you start practicing a few things in a structured way. It sort of becomes your habit. It starts reflecting in your personality. So I think I would really emphasize that, you know, having this kind of absorption is very important.
So it doesn’t have to be, you know, something that you try and practice. It becomes you on yourself. So I think that that’s the first major impact that I’ve had from Product Management.
And second thing is, I now look at things where I can break things neatly. Whenever we solve or dig into a problem. Earlier, I used to have a different approach. I used to think longer on a few things and I would choose what I had to think, and a lot of clutter was then out there.
But now, I don’t do that. I know how to break the problems down and what needs attention immediately and what can be attended to later.
Q4. What was the interview experience at your current company?
Yeah, so I think this was more like in product management. Whenever we look at interviews, I mean, at least I have broken my head to understand the various levels of interviews and the various structures of interviews for various companies.
There are companies that look mainly for B2B, and technical product managers, there are companies that look for more of B2C experiences. So there’s a lot of things that’s available out there.
And yeah, I had to go through all of that and keep myself addressed. I think most of it finally, as you give a lot of interviews, you understand one thing that finally, it’s what you have done, so how you are able to present yourself to what you have actually worked, I think the resume based interview, I think, is the way that will finally turn out to be prominent.
I think having yourself prepared for such an interview is the first thing that anybody should do, I think and it comes naturally to you, right, you don’t have to really press down upon a lot of things because you’ve done some things.
And that’s what you have put on your resume. And I’m sure it’s easier for you to talk about things that you’ve already done.
So I think this role that I will be taking up and the interview that was done, were mostly around my actual products, the kind of work that I’ve already done, and some expectations around whether I’ll be able to do a few more things, right.
So these were the main areas, I would say were looked at, in this interview.
Q5. Why INSAID? How did it help you?
INSAID happened to me, while I was actually ready to pick up a course, there’s a period of time when you understand that you have done some amount of research, you have gone through what is available freely over the internet, and how best you could make use of things.
So that’s what everybody would first do right. So, I had gone through that period, and I knew my challenges. Whatever I was able to get out of that period where I was just researching and understanding and also like I said, I was fitting into my new role and confirming right.
See, when you’re doing any work, I see that I work at par from the expectations that the current organization has, but you also have to be mindful about the entire market, what is the market expecting out of a specific role?
Product management being not a very old stream there are a lot of organizations having different expectations. So I think I understood that while I was doing my research, and I wanted to know and confirm whatever I was doing here is applicable to other places also because either there are two things that I would get right.
So either I bring in all of those things that are not currently adding in my role in my company and make it a better place. And that will be my contribution. Second thing if I really have to grow or make other choices, and I’m, I’m ready for it.
When I think of applying for a job, I don’t have to really start from my basics so it’s a two fold advantage that you get by being abreast with what is happening around you. So that’s when I think INSAID happened.
So I attended the webinar that happens from the INSAID team and I think I was totally blown away. They were so crisp and they were so precise, I sort of in that one hour or one and a half hours, I was able to understand what they’re gonna do.
And I think my expectations completely matched what they were offering. So the phases of, you know, enrolling into INSAID and having the classes and sessions started.
So everything fell into a very neat place. So I had the weekend classes where I was able to spend some time because I didn’t have to travel or go anywhere, to attend these classes, given my time was during the COVID, and all of that.
So I think it gives everything that a person or a professional needs to upskill themselves while they are actually performing regular duties in their workplace. So I think INSAID helped a lot in that way.
And how it has helped in the role and how I was able to make the best of it are some things around the kind of mentors we had, the kind of support we got. And I think the catchphrase was the mini capstone project.
So I was really, from the beginning, looking forward to having such an experience. Though I had built products, I really wanted to know if something is thrown upon me and I have to do something ‘How do I fair?’.
So that was a very interesting challenge for me. And I think the one that happened in January was, I mean, I spent quite a good amount of time on the project. And it came up pretty well.
So that way, I got some of the things, the confirmation and things that I needed. I knew where I stood, what were my improvement points and how I had to make myself ready for interviews and things like that.
And I guess the second thing was about the resume builder and how the INSAID team had a support mechanism where they would review my resume and give me some implementation points.
And yeah, I think that cycle also was very helpful to me. Thirdly, I think the career coaching and all the extra lectures that we get from the actual industry folks also have been very, very helpful. It gives you a glimpse of what people are doing, and it’s pretty inspiring.
So these few things have been really helpful from my experience at INSAID.
Q6. What advice would you give to Product Management beginners?
The first one is, going back to the points I said in the beginning, if you’re doing some other kind of work, and you have chosen product management, or if you’ve already started off as a product manager, you know, so do those two routes, you will have to figure out for yourself, so what what is that you have taken as your path.
And I think based on that you can curate your learning. So there’s nothing that happens without that extra bit of time or effort that you put in for a new role or a new thing that you’re doing.
It’s not just product management, even if you’re learning any sport or if you’re cooking right you will need to be given a little bit extra from your side and that definitely shows on the end result. So the outcome is completely directly proportional to that bit of effort that you put in.
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