Consulting to Product Management: AMA with Rohan Gupta

Rohan has around 7 years of experience in both management consulting and product management. He started in analytics, building data solutions for the aerospace sector. His transition to ZS Associates was a leap into strategic consulting for pharmaceutical giants like Pfizer and Sanofi, having played a critical role in mergers and market entries for their expansion.

His passion for finance took him to Indian Institute of Management Calcutta for an MBA, after which he joined Rivigo, a logistics start-up, where he significantly contributed to increasing the company's revenue, adding ₹25 CR annually through his product management strategies.

He briefly returned to consulting at BCG, managing a substantial ₹100 CR project with India's largest bank, where he made notable financial impacts.

However, drawn back to product management, Rohan now makes significant contributions at Deutsche Telekom, improving product lines and driving customer satisfaction with his impactful strategies.

As we get started, can you let us know how your day looks like at Deutsche Telekom?

A typical day is something like this:

  • A series of meetings with various stakeholders, encompassing engineering teams, business partners, and design collaborators, all integral to the product launch process. Such interactions account for approximately 60% of the day. 
  • An additional 20% is dedicated to the development and refinement of product requirement documents. 
  • The remaining time is allocated to managing operational tasks, which include responding to emails and resolving technical issues raised by stakeholders.

What are the top 5 things you evaluate in an APM and a PM resume?

Top 5 things are:

  1. PM Experience.
  2. Technical & Analytical skills.
  3. Personal interests (that's extremely important to understand the personality).
  4. Achievements.
  5. Any certification (not just related to product but in general).

How to make the best out of the PM role?

Great question, couple of things

  1. Clear understanding of the market and customers
  2. Master Prioritization (Extremely critical)
  3. Build Strong relationships with your stakeholders
  4. Be data driven.. try to make every decision based on data and not on assumption
  5. Communication - How and when

For our audience, can you give more insights on what kind of products you're building in your current role?

In my present position, I am engaged with core products designed specifically for internal stakeholders rather than end-users. As a member of the central team, the product I contribute to influences the suite of consumer-facing products across different teams. My focus is on developing a robust engine for campaigns, coupons, NPS that enables internal users to craft these elements for display within the app. While the user interface aspect presents minimal complexity, the project is technically intricate, involving numerous components each introducing unique challenges.

How does generally feature prioritisation happen in real world scenarios? Although there are many frameworks, but, I guess they would not be directly applicable? Also what kind of answer is expected in an interview for such a question?

It generally depends on the high level business goals for the company for that quarter/year. Is it revenue, is it cost, is it acquisition and that's how we evaluate what to build and when.

But even for the same goal, there could be multiple features we can possibly build, how to prioritise the features?

Impact they’ll bring: most needed vs good to have. First go with Most needed and then good to have.

Ideally, how frequently should the product updates be done?

Depends on a variety of factors, including the type of product, user needs, the nature of updates and of course the available resources. the ideal frequency is the one that best balances these factors.

I have seen updates happening every 2 hours for a few products like Github! Somehow I'm worried about touching the prod that frequently.

They have a continuous deployment practices and they have a extremely different approach.

For young professionals with less than 3 years of experience in other roles (anything to do with corporate), do you suggest them to take prior education of sorts (MBAs, certifications, PG Diploma kinda stuff) before applying to such roles or can they self-learn, apply and appear in an interview for a PM or CM role?

In current scenario what I have seen is that if you have experience in other roles either you can switch the role to product within the same company, gain experience and then apply to other places. Otherwise, if you are applying without a PM experience it's difficult to get a shortlist. It's recommended to at least have couple of product certifications and MBA do provide you with an option to switch career paths

How important is deep thinking in PM roles? And is it necessary to have the PM mindset or companies are patient while we build that mindset?

It's crucial, and companies often seek folks pre- installed with deep thinking, much like preferring a smartphone with apps already downloaded. However they also give you time to build your PM mindset but a lot depends upon the company as well (Startups do give a lot of emphasis on that PM mindset while big organizations are a little open and know person can build it throughout the journey)

How do you build that mindset in personal life? Observing places or apps? Can you give a few suggestions?

Channel your inner Freddie Mercury—rock a 'Don't Stop Me Now' attitude and explore as much apps you can... and next time if anyone asks you why you are scrolling Instagram, tell them I am evaluating this product :D

On a serious note, it's good to evaluate any new feature within the most used app by asking a few questions:

  • why they have created it
  • what value it's adding for you and if you were a PM
  • what you have done.

What are your takeaways from Consulting? How was your background in Finance helpful to your PM role?

Consulting turns you into a multi -tool - You'll learn to untangle the knots of problem solving skills, project management, time management, stakeholder management, business acumen, change management And PowerPoint? Oh, you’ll become the Picasso of slides, painting masterpieces in gradients and bullet points. Let's not forget the true consultant’s fuel – coffee (just one more slide before bed) Finance helps in doing some analysis over excel.

One Sentence Answer on which role do you enjoy more and why?

Product for sure.. You become a jack of all trades (Analytics, Design Thinking, Stakeholder Management and what not)

Do you also serve the client as a Consultant, you become one as a PM. Is my assumption right?

Not really. Here your users are the clients.. so you will be a consultant anyways just you are not wearing suits 5 days a week.

What's the thing that pushes you every day (not including EMI ) to learn new things? Also how to manage stakeholders if they don't complete the work on time?

Money, just jesting. I guess it's basically the desire to create those aha moments for the users (extremely difficult, you know)

You moved from PM to Consulting but then returned to the PM world. It's like having two best professional experiences. Has it got to do with the market dynamics or certain affinity? And how do you advise some of our audience considering PM vs Consulting?

I believe both fields have their own pros and cons.. it totally depends on the long term goal of an individual.. Consulting enhances one's skill set, helps in networking, and provides exposure to different business problems whereas it can be daunting sometime and exhausting as well. On the other hand, the PM role helps you gain experience in every field you can think of, whether technical, business, design, sales, marketing.. so you gain a diverse skill set. But in the end.. It totally depends on an individual's priority and goals.

From your personal experiences, can you help us with stakeholder management tips? Actually need this one.

It's a difficult one, but communication (why the gap), impact analysis, try to engage other resources if possible, encouragement, what's at stake and at last escalate

  • It's very important to have a personal bond with your stakeholders.
  • Communicate regularly with them.
  • Keep them apprised of the progress.
  • Do regular catch up, understand their persona (and mould your conversations accordingly).
  • Finally, don't forget to offer them a coffee.

Can you list down your favorite (Top 3 or something if you will) products with a small reason why?

I believe empathy should be a main component in every product design, so I would probably go with

  • Slack
  • Spotify
  • Airbnb

Want to join the next conversation? We’ll be having another Product Chat soon, get your invite to our Slack community to get all the details. See you inside.

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