Transitioning from Analytics to Product by WeWork PM

Are you an Analyst who wants to transition to a role of a Product Manager? If yes, who are the right people that can help you with a smooth transition? What are the relevant questions you can ask them? Can you get some before-hand experience in your current team by acting like the PM of your team?

In this article, Nikil Ramanathan, WeWork Senior PM, talks about his journey from being a Business Analyst to a Product Manager. He shares his strategies like talking to the leadership team to get a bird’s eye view of the product, attending PM meetings to understand decision making, and doing additional tasks in your existing team that resemble those of a PM, to help you gain better former experience in Product Management.

This article is based on Nikil Ramanathan’s talk “From Analytics to Product Management.”

Transitioning from Analytics to Product

When Nikil was working as a Business Analyst at Amazon, his focus was on identifying key business metrics and providing trends for the business. He had the opportunity to partner with different Sales Managers from different verticals and helped them create brand names and identify competitors. His interaction with the Sales team motivated him to take the first step which was being in a more technical role.

Soon he landed an opportunity with Amazon Video where he worked on the X-Ray component; a component where relevant information like the actor’s name, director’s name, etc. are displayed on the playback of a video. He also worked on Mobile Devices and pretty soon he led all of the products in the Amazon Video team. He then discovered his interests in Product Management and pretty soon sought guidance from other PMs at Amazon to make the transition to the Last Mile Technology team.

Nikil landed and opportunity with the Amazon Video team

Nikil attributes majority of his success of easily transitioning from Analytics to Product Management, to networking with leaders, current analysts, former analysts, and other product managers.

He recommends talking to leaders as they can give you a bird’s eye view of the entire product. Being in the Mobile Devices team for Amazon Video, he had the opportunity to work with the PMs and get mentorship and guidance from them. As an analyst he was able to provide specific metrics to the PMs and understand the “whys” of a product.

Here are a few tips on how to better understand the role of a PM and what questions one needs to ask the PM for an easy transition to the role:

  1. The most valuable skill of a PM is prioritisation of different tasks. Ask the PM about the strategies they use for prioritising different tasks while also meeting the business goals.
  2. The biggest takeaway for an Analyst is to figure out how to do things as an Analyst that resembles the work done by a PM. For example, conduct A/B tests for your product and do other tasks that imitate the role of a PM in your team. This will help you get a better understanding about a PMs role, further your relevant experience when you interview for a PM’s role and allow you to see if you would actually enjoy being the role of being a PM.
  3. Most Analysts are stuck with what they’re supposed to do but they need to think about additional insights to the product. Understand the “whys” of a product and come up with your own suggestions/questions to the PMs.
  4. Ask your PMs how they measure the success of the product. Is it based on customer adoption or the time spent by a customer on the product?
  5. Attend meetings conducted by PMs: you can see people making decisions about the product which will give you an insight to the end-to-end process.
  6. An efficient time-management strategy is to spend 30% of your time doing things a PM does for your product, and 70% of the time on your work as an Analyst.

Nikil also recommends talking to current and former Analysts and asking them what gets them excited about their role or why they made a transition from Analytics to Product Management. Understanding their sentiment and the decisions they made will help you introspect your path as well. Further, meeting a wide variety of people and asking them all these questions will help you get first-hand feedback and knowledge about Product Management.

Once you figure out all the aspects of Product Management, it is important to discuss this with your manager. Your manager can then give you projects that enable you to start acting like a PM without the formal title. And this experience is extremely invaluable when you make the transition. When you are making the switch to Product Management, look for more analytical or data savvy roles and have a strong handle on the metrics for your team’s business and product.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Talk to lots of people, get feedback, and ask lots of questions. Ask why?
  2. Develop relationships with teammates and mentors as they can help you get your foot in the door.
  3. Figure out what type of work in your current role most resembles the day-to-day for PMs and focus your efforts there.

Meet Nikil Ramanathan

Nikil Ramanathan

Nikil Ramanathan is a Senior Product Manager at WeWork where he handles negotiation with real estate owners and focuses on improving discoverability and sourcing of CRE properties. Prior to WeWork, Nikil worked at Amazon for five years, in three different teams and in three different roles. He started his journey in Amazon by working for the NA Sales team as a Business Analyst and later made a transition to Amazon Video, and then to the Last Mile Technology team where he led the product.

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