Rakesh Ranjan

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?

Shipping  great consumer products across Travel (MakeMyTrip), Matrimony (Shaadi.com),  Real estate (CommonFloor), FinTech (Zeta) that still are in use, years later,  by millions of users.
It is a great feeling that a germ of an idea in your head can take a life  of it's own and will one day change something (however minuscule) in the life  of a broader cross section of the users.

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

As  Product Managers, when you build a feature, you are expected to have a fairly  high degree of conviction before you devote a considerable amount of the  organization's resources behind it. Unfortunately not all bets pay off.  The self doubt induced struggle of 'what if  the feature bombs' is real.
There are multiple guard rails that you learn on the job that ranges from  early validation via user testing, competitive benchmarks, guesstimates, A/B  experiments for MVP etc.

But, before you have the conviction on your features, you need to have the  self-conviction that that you will figure it out, as you go along.
Things become easier from there on.

‚Äć

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

"Product  Manager is the CEO of the Product and hence everyone will just follow my  instructions"
Very few aspiring PMs realise that they have to brush up on their  Influencing skills to even move the needle. Most of Product Management is  about relationship building and influencing everyone, to get the best out of  the unit.

‚Äć

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

1. You  will not get it right every time and be okay with that. Bias for action will  trump over indecision led limbo always.
2. You can't get away with, "Oh, but it is not my job". If it is  about your Product, it is your job.   Your job may not be to manually trigger OTPs but your job may be to  find a creative solution to an impasse.
3. Don't assume that if it is clear in your heads, it is clear in  everybody's. It's your job to ensure everyone has the same level of clarity  as you.
4. "I know my users, because I am a user too", you may do well to  keep looking at the metrics and user research and you will get surprised.

‚Äć

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 was a  Product Manager before I knew what Product Management was. If it wasn't  Product Management, I would (perhaps) been a Teacher.
Influencing the new generation via ideas and discussions and debates and  finding creative ways to get the right solutions would be akin to what a  Product Manager does.

‚Äć

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

There is  no formal training for a Product manager. It's almost always an on-the-job  training.
If you are struggling and re-evaluating your contribution in the first  months as a PM, do know that every PM goes through an Imposter syndrome at  some point.
Even when you don't see a line of sight of how you (individually) are  contributing to the Org, do realize that when you look back, the dots do  connect.

‚Äć

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

Shipping  great consumer products across Travel (MakeMyTrip), Matrimony (Shaadi.com),  Real estate (CommonFloor), FinTech (Zeta) that still are in use, years later,  by millions of users.
It is a great feeling that a germ of an idea in your head can take a life  of it's own and will one day change something (however minuscule) in the life  of a broader cross section of the users.

‚Äć

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

As  Product Managers, when you build a feature, you are expected to have a fairly  high degree of conviction before you devote a considerable amount of the  organization's resources behind it. Unfortunately not all bets pay off.  The self doubt induced struggle of 'what if  the feature bombs' is real.
There are multiple guard rails that you learn on the job that ranges from  early validation via user testing, competitive benchmarks, guesstimates, A/B  experiments for MVP etc.

But, before you have the conviction on your features, you need to have the  self-conviction that that you will figure it out, as you go along.
Things become easier from there on.

‚Äć

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

"Product  Manager is the CEO of the Product and hence everyone will just follow my  instructions"
Very few aspiring PMs realise that they have to brush up on their  Influencing skills to even move the needle. Most of Product Management is  about relationship building and influencing everyone, to get the best out of  the unit.

‚Äć

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

1. You  will not get it right every time and be okay with that. Bias for action will  trump over indecision led limbo always.
2. You can't get away with, "Oh, but it is not my job". If it is  about your Product, it is your job.   Your job may not be to manually trigger OTPs but your job may be to  find a creative solution to an impasse.
3. Don't assume that if it is clear in your heads, it is clear in  everybody's. It's your job to ensure everyone has the same level of clarity  as you.
4. "I know my users, because I am a user too", you may do well to  keep looking at the metrics and user research and you will get surprised.

‚Äć

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 was a  Product Manager before I knew what Product Management was. If it wasn't  Product Management, I would (perhaps) been a Teacher.
Influencing the new generation via ideas and discussions and debates and  finding creative ways to get the right solutions would be akin to what a  Product Manager does.

‚Äć

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

There is  no formal training for a Product manager. It's almost always an on-the-job  training.
If you are struggling and re-evaluating your contribution in the first  months as a PM, do know that every PM goes through an Imposter syndrome at  some point.
Even when you don't see a line of sight of how you (individually) are  contributing to the Org, do realize that when you look back, the dots do  connect.

‚Äć

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