Dhinesh Potnuru

Career Milestones

Organization and You

Core Competencies

Go to food for thought

Favorite Products

What accomplishment in your product management career has brought you the highest level of satisfaction and joy? Can you narrate why?

In 2018, post the merger of Goibibo and MakeMyTrip, I led the Growth & Engagement product initiatives at Goibibo. When Goibibo earned the Principal Sponsorship for Mumbai Indians during the IPL season, we aimed to integrate the brand advertising strength of MakeMyTrip with Goibibo's network-effect-driven growth strategy.

We developed a product, the goCash Fest (https://shorturl.at/ikKW5), that gamified user engagement. Users could watch matches, participate in trivia, quizzes, and player predictions, collecting goCash for travel bookings on Goibibo. The initiative was a hit, drawing 3.5 million participants and registering 2.2 million new users within the 45 days of IPL.

The reason why it was satisfying and brought a lot of joy was:
1. Joy in meeting a tough deadline: We had exactly 50 days to ideate the product, do quick user testing, and build and release it. This product cannot have a missed deadline as IPL was starting on 7th April 2018.
2. Contributing to the team in more than one way: To fasten the development process and test multiple scenarios, I wrote Python scripts (reliving my developer days) that simulated matches and outcomes. The same scripts also helped later in training the Customer Experience teams.
3. Unimaginable impact: The impact in terms of concurrent users, business numbers, new users joining the platform was beyond expectations and brought pure joy to us as a team.
4. Collaboration between the team: Those 50 days showed the importance of having each other's back and constantly supporting them through day and night. The team that builds together stays together.

What aspect of  product management did you struggle the most with? How did you overcome  it?

The art of Saying "No." Especially in India, saying "No" is taken as disrespectful. We are culturally inclined to accommodate requests as a form of respect and courtesy.  Early in my career, I found myself incorporating numerous feature requests to satisfy every stakeholder, be it internal teams or external customers. However, this approach often led to an overloaded product roadmap, a lack of product focus, and a stressed-out development team.  Over time, I realized it's essential to step back and say "No" to people and product ideas that will not move the needle exponentially. The critical thing to remember is that - We need to communicate this while being empathetic and appreciative of the other person for bringing out this idea with mutual respect.  It's also important to reinforce that saying 'no' to a request isn't a rejection of the person making the request but rather a strategic choice for the product's benefit. This approach was vital to maintaining the respect and harmony integral to our working culture in India.

What's one common  myth about product management that you find common among aspiring PMs.

Aspiring PMs often get inspired by the role for being touted as the "CEO of your product".   While the responsibilities and ownership are true, the one piece that young PMs miss is the fact around "Influencing without authority." Product Managers need to get the best out of their teams (Engineering, Design, Analytics, Support, etc.) by influencing and motivating them while they cannot directly manage them.

What are some common  pitfalls that product managers must be aware of?

Not being on top of your data: Being data-driven (or) data-informed is very crucial to get new insights + understanding the hiccups that might happen daily. Being on top of data also builds trust for the Engg & Design teams a PM works closely with. Overcommit and under-deliver: PMs must have a high say-do ratio while keeping reality in check. Not proactively communicating: As PMs, we often take small things for granted (or) miss out on communicating minor changes or issues. Pro-active communication enables your team to participate more and unblock them incase of problems.

If not product  management, what career would you have picked? Are there any complimentary skillsets that you see between being a PM and your alternate choice?

I would have loved to be a UX Designer. The choice also stems from my experience in leading design teams for my college fests at BITS-Pilani and SPJIMR. A UX designer and a Product Manager have a lot in common:
- Being the voice of the user
- Unique and innovative problem solving
- Being collaborative
- Ability to have "taste" (the Art part of Product Management)

What is something  about product management that you wish you knew when you started out?

The importance of Stakeholder management, i.e., managing up, across, and below. I still get mesmerized by this unique ability that helps a PM build the best teams and products and how it is so underrated.

What accomplishment in your product management career has brought you the highest level of satisfaction and joy? Can you narrate why?

In 2018, post the merger of Goibibo and MakeMyTrip, I led the Growth & Engagement product initiatives at Goibibo. When Goibibo earned the Principal Sponsorship for Mumbai Indians during the IPL season, we aimed to integrate the brand advertising strength of MakeMyTrip with Goibibo's network-effect-driven growth strategy.

We developed a product, the goCash Fest (https://shorturl.at/ikKW5), that gamified user engagement. Users could watch matches, participate in trivia, quizzes, and player predictions, collecting goCash for travel bookings on Goibibo. The initiative was a hit, drawing 3.5 million participants and registering 2.2 million new users within the 45 days of IPL.

The reason why it was satisfying and brought a lot of joy was:
1. Joy in meeting a tough deadline: We had exactly 50 days to ideate the product, do quick user testing, and build and release it. This product cannot have a missed deadline as IPL was starting on 7th April 2018.
2. Contributing to the team in more than one way: To fasten the development process and test multiple scenarios, I wrote Python scripts (reliving my developer days) that simulated matches and outcomes. The same scripts also helped later in training the Customer Experience teams.
3. Unimaginable impact: The impact in terms of concurrent users, business numbers, new users joining the platform was beyond expectations and brought pure joy to us as a team.
4. Collaboration between the team: Those 50 days showed the importance of having each other's back and constantly supporting them through day and night. The team that builds together stays together.

What aspect of  product management did you struggle the most with? How did you overcome  it?

The art of Saying "No." Especially in India, saying "No" is taken as disrespectful. We are culturally inclined to accommodate requests as a form of respect and courtesy.  Early in my career, I found myself incorporating numerous feature requests to satisfy every stakeholder, be it internal teams or external customers. However, this approach often led to an overloaded product roadmap, a lack of product focus, and a stressed-out development team.  Over time, I realized it's essential to step back and say "No" to people and product ideas that will not move the needle exponentially. The critical thing to remember is that - We need to communicate this while being empathetic and appreciative of the other person for bringing out this idea with mutual respect.  It's also important to reinforce that saying 'no' to a request isn't a rejection of the person making the request but rather a strategic choice for the product's benefit. This approach was vital to maintaining the respect and harmony integral to our working culture in India.

What's one common  myth about product management that you find common among aspiring PMs.

Aspiring PMs often get inspired by the role for being touted as the "CEO of your product".   While the responsibilities and ownership are true, the one piece that young PMs miss is the fact around "Influencing without authority." Product Managers need to get the best out of their teams (Engineering, Design, Analytics, Support, etc.) by influencing and motivating them while they cannot directly manage them.

What are some common  pitfalls that product managers must be aware of?

Not being on top of your data: Being data-driven (or) data-informed is very crucial to get new insights + understanding the hiccups that might happen daily. Being on top of data also builds trust for the Engg & Design teams a PM works closely with. Overcommit and under-deliver: PMs must have a high say-do ratio while keeping reality in check. Not proactively communicating: As PMs, we often take small things for granted (or) miss out on communicating minor changes or issues. Pro-active communication enables your team to participate more and unblock them incase of problems.

If not product  management, what career would you have picked? Are there any complimentary skillsets that you see between being a PM and your alternate choice?

I would have loved to be a UX Designer. The choice also stems from my experience in leading design teams for my college fests at BITS-Pilani and SPJIMR. A UX designer and a Product Manager have a lot in common:
- Being the voice of the user
- Unique and innovative problem solving
- Being collaborative
- Ability to have "taste" (the Art part of Product Management)

What is something  about product management that you wish you knew when you started out?

The importance of Stakeholder management, i.e., managing up, across, and below. I still get mesmerized by this unique ability that helps a PM build the best teams and products and how it is so underrated.

Come For the Content
‚ÄćStay For the Community