Siddharth Seth

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

Building a product from hypothesis and scaling it to millions of small businesses has been the most fulfilling accomplishment of my Product Management career.It is gratifying to know that today, lakhs of SMEs across India rely on our product to streamline their operations. It is rewarding to know that myBillBook has become an integral part of their business operations, offering solutions to their billing, inventory management, customer outstanding, and GST filing needs.

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

Aligning different internal stakeholders like Sales, Support, and Growth teams is challenging as those teams typically have a distinct working culture and incentives from Engineering/Product teams.  To overcome this challenge, I've found building personal relationships and trust with members of other teams to be incredibly helpful. Having a clear and transparent communication channels are also essential to ensure everyone understands the product vision and product roadmap. Additionally, empowering teams with data-driven insights has helped to bridge gaps in understanding from one team to another.

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

One common myth is that the product manager is the "CEO of the product". While this may be true to an extent in terms of leading the product development process, the best product managers don't always dictate to the team but instead work collaboratively in setting product vision and winning over buy-in from stakeholders.  A great product manager effectively collaborates with other teams, listens to their input, and maintains a keen sense of how new products or features impact customer experiences. They must be the glue that brings all the pieces together to create a successful product - ultimately, it's more about guiding the team towards success than being the genius behind it all.

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

1) Desire to build the "perfect" product from the beginning. While it's important to aim for a high-quality product, striving for perfection from the outset can lead to delays in getting the product-market-fit. A better approach is to build iteratively, learn from each version, and refine it based on customer feedback. However, it's crucial to strike a balance between shipping a MVP and shipping a product that's too poor to provide any value. An MVP should provide enough functionality to generate feedback and validate the product concept but not be so poor that it leaves a negative impression on the users.  

2) Lack of focus. It's easy to lose track of objectives, get sidetracked on the latest features, or try to solve problems that are outside the scope of the product vision. It's essential to stay focused on the product goals and roadmap, communicate with key stakeholders, and make data-driven decisions that align with the product vision.

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?

If not product management, I may have chosen a career in public policy. I am passionate about helping to shape policies that have a positive impact on society and the world. I had some internships and fellowships in this field and I enjoyed the opportunity to contribute to the causes.Public policy and product management are different fields, but there are complementary skillsets between these two roles. Both require strong analytical skills, research skills, attention to detail, and the ability to make informed decisions based on data and insights. In public policy, you need to balance competing interests, consider long-term consequences, and weigh the social, economic, and political implications of decisions. In product management, you need to balance business goals, customer needs, and technical feasibility.Communication, collaboration, and stakeholder management are also critical skills in both fields. As a product manager, you need to work closely with cross-functional teams, stakeholders, and customers to bring your product vision to life. As a public policy professional, you need to work with various government agencies, interest groups, and the public to develop and implement policies.

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

When I first started in product management about six years ago, I was fortunate enough to learn many things on the job since the field was still new in India. My greatest strength from the beginning was my product sense, but as I progressed in my career, I came to realize the importance of having a strong product strategy.  Product sense is about developing an intuitive understanding of what makes a great product. It includes understanding user needs and developing an instinct for what will appeal to customers. However, it is not enough to build a great product without a product strategy.  Product strategy is the process of defining the path to success for the product. It includes setting goals, developing a roadmap, and prioritizing the features that will be built. A solid product strategy requires consideration of the competition, the user's needs, and the company's capabilities. In hindsight, I wish I had realised the importance of product strategy earlier in my career.

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

Building a product from hypothesis and scaling it to millions of small businesses has been the most fulfilling accomplishment of my Product Management career.It is gratifying to know that today, lakhs of SMEs across India rely on our product to streamline their operations. It is rewarding to know that myBillBook has become an integral part of their business operations, offering solutions to their billing, inventory management, customer outstanding, and GST filing needs.

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

Aligning different internal stakeholders like Sales, Support, and Growth teams is challenging as those teams typically have a distinct working culture and incentives from Engineering/Product teams.  To overcome this challenge, I've found building personal relationships and trust with members of other teams to be incredibly helpful. Having a clear and transparent communication channels are also essential to ensure everyone understands the product vision and product roadmap. Additionally, empowering teams with data-driven insights has helped to bridge gaps in understanding from one team to another.

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

One common myth is that the product manager is the "CEO of the product". While this may be true to an extent in terms of leading the product development process, the best product managers don't always dictate to the team but instead work collaboratively in setting product vision and winning over buy-in from stakeholders.  A great product manager effectively collaborates with other teams, listens to their input, and maintains a keen sense of how new products or features impact customer experiences. They must be the glue that brings all the pieces together to create a successful product - ultimately, it's more about guiding the team towards success than being the genius behind it all.

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

1) Desire to build the "perfect" product from the beginning. While it's important to aim for a high-quality product, striving for perfection from the outset can lead to delays in getting the product-market-fit. A better approach is to build iteratively, learn from each version, and refine it based on customer feedback. However, it's crucial to strike a balance between shipping a MVP and shipping a product that's too poor to provide any value. An MVP should provide enough functionality to generate feedback and validate the product concept but not be so poor that it leaves a negative impression on the users.  

2) Lack of focus. It's easy to lose track of objectives, get sidetracked on the latest features, or try to solve problems that are outside the scope of the product vision. It's essential to stay focused on the product goals and roadmap, communicate with key stakeholders, and make data-driven decisions that align with the product vision.

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?

If not product management, I may have chosen a career in public policy. I am passionate about helping to shape policies that have a positive impact on society and the world. I had some internships and fellowships in this field and I enjoyed the opportunity to contribute to the causes.Public policy and product management are different fields, but there are complementary skillsets between these two roles. Both require strong analytical skills, research skills, attention to detail, and the ability to make informed decisions based on data and insights. In public policy, you need to balance competing interests, consider long-term consequences, and weigh the social, economic, and political implications of decisions. In product management, you need to balance business goals, customer needs, and technical feasibility.Communication, collaboration, and stakeholder management are also critical skills in both fields. As a product manager, you need to work closely with cross-functional teams, stakeholders, and customers to bring your product vision to life. As a public policy professional, you need to work with various government agencies, interest groups, and the public to develop and implement policies.

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

When I first started in product management about six years ago, I was fortunate enough to learn many things on the job since the field was still new in India. My greatest strength from the beginning was my product sense, but as I progressed in my career, I came to realize the importance of having a strong product strategy.  Product sense is about developing an intuitive understanding of what makes a great product. It includes understanding user needs and developing an instinct for what will appeal to customers. However, it is not enough to build a great product without a product strategy.  Product strategy is the process of defining the path to success for the product. It includes setting goals, developing a roadmap, and prioritizing the features that will be built. A solid product strategy requires consideration of the competition, the user's needs, and the company's capabilities. In hindsight, I wish I had realised the importance of product strategy earlier in my career.

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