The Top Minds in Product: Meet Product School Instructors!

What really makes the Product School experience special are the instructors. They’re the ice in our lattes, the engines in our Ferraris, and the crowning jewels of pursuing a Product Management certification.

Each of our instructors are real-life Product Managers with years of experience in the field. They take the time out of their busy days to give back to the community and teach you everything you need to know. They have the jobs that you covet, and they tell you exactly how to get them!

Today, we’d like to introduce you to a few of them…

Joel Palathinkal

Joel Palathinkal

Joel Palathinkal, based in New York, has a very impressive resume to boast of! He’s held Product Management positions (including Senior PM and Head of PM positions) at CBS, NAVAIR, Hearst, NBCUniversal, and FactSet.

You also couldn’t ask for a better teacher as he has also spent the past 6 years as a professor at Cornell University. He now works as an investor, as well as taking time out of his busy week to be a Product School instructor.

What do you most enjoy about being a Product School instructor?

“What I love most is helping people with their career goals/dreams & and seeing them become successful. In a world of uncertainty, we all need mentors. People have been kind to help me so it’s my responsibility to do the same.”

What’s your day-to-day like? How does being an instructor fit into your routine?

“My day changes every day which keeps it both exciting & engaging. With Product School having such flexibility, it integrates as a part of my life. I like calling it “work-life harmony” as Jeff Bezos coined it.”

Do you keep in touch/keep tabs on any of your students after the cohort is over?

“Yes, I have my own alumni channel, some of them visit me in NYC from across the globe, and I also throw huge alumni happy hours.”

What’s the secret to succeeding as a Product Manager?

“Knowing the product life cycle, process, and terminology is necessary. But that doesn’t make you extraordinary. The top product leaders can replicate their leadership across the organization. Furthermore, people want to follow them and hang on to every word they say. To sum it up. Those who can master the power of relationships and influence can be the masters of their universe.”

Pencil

Amin Bashi

Amin Bashi

Amin Bashi is CareGuide’s VP of Product & Design. CareGuide is a portfolio of online marketplaces and their mission is to pair families and individuals with great care providers. CareGuide’s portfolio consists of eldercare.comsitter.comcanadiannanny.capetsitter.comhousekeeper.comchildcareadvantage.com, and housesitter.com.

Prior to CareGuide, Amin was leading the product and design teams at CrowdRiff. CrowdRiff is an AI-powered visual content marketing platform used by the world’s best travel and tourism brands such as Zürich Tourism. Before joining CrowdRiff, Amin led the product innovation team at Financeit powering over 7,800 merchants and $3 billion in payment plan applications.

Amin also led “Shopify for Startups” program and worked with Shopify’s business and engineering teams to build a world-class developer ecosystem. He worked with 400+ app partners all around the world to help them build their products and grow their businesses strategically. Amin is currently a Senior Lecturer at Product School where he’s training and mentoring the next generation of product leaders

What do you most enjoy about being a Product School instructor? 

I love sharing my passion for product management with people all around the world, learn about their experiences, and mentor them to get to where they want to be. As CareGuide’s VP of Product, every day I heavily rely on the help and mentorship I received from my mentors at Google, Shopify, and CrowdRiff. I consider it my responsibility to send the elevator back down for others and pay it forward. I’m thankful that Product School gives me the opportunity to do this through their incredible education system.”

What’s your day-to-day like? 

“I typically spend 25% of my time focusing on our core product activities (e.g. specs/PRDs, roadmapping, OKRs, etc.), 20% of my time on interacting with customers or customer-facing teams, 20% of my time working with engineering (e.g., stand-ups, post mortems, etc.), 20% of my time collaborating with the design team (e.g., reviewing wireframes), 10% of my time updating executives (e.g., product reviews), and 5% of my time on other misc meetings (e.g., weekly all-hands).”

How does being an instructor fit into your routine?

“Make a schedule and commit to it. One of the most cited reasons to skip giving back to the product community is “I am just too busy at work”. Do some hard prioritizing. The truth is that when we really need to, we get out of the office at the time that is necessary. Make a schedule (write it down if it helps!), stick to it, and remind yourself that working out or giving back to the community is a priority worth keeping.

Do you keep in touch/keep tabs on any of your students after the cohort is over? 

“Always. I continue our conversations on Slack and offer them 1-on-1 coaching sessions even after the program ends to make sure they’ll get to where they want. I only consider myself a successful instructor if my students succeed and get to where they want.”

What’s the secret to succeeding as a Product Manager?

  • Getting better and better every day at articulating your product vision to your team really, really well.
  • Becoming a visionary product leader to lead your team in the right direction and easily adapt to the changes that come in the way
  • Becoming great at empowering people to experience the vision on their own
Group of people working together outside

Richa Rai

Richa Product Instructor

Richa Rai is a wonderfully prolific instructor, taking part in Guest Speaker sessions, AMAs and Webinars. She currently works as a Senior Product Manager in Kaiser Permanente, enterprise and digital services team. Prior to this, Richa was a management consultant at Microsoft for 8 years. She has an Engineering and MBA educational background.

As one of her mentors once said early in her career – “Build and deliver an experience where customers don’t have to come, rather they want to come.” This has been Richa’s inspiration in all of her accomplishments thus far. She is all about breaking the barrier, challenging the status quo and it started with her being the first woman Engineer in her community.

Check out Richa’s webinar on breaking into PM

What do you most enjoy about being a Product School instructor?

“What I enjoy the most about being a PS Instructor is an opportunity to be able to share my knowledge with intellectually bright students who are professionals from companies of different sizes such as (Amazon, Tmobile, Microsoft, Startup) and diverse backgrounds (engineers, consultants, designers, managers, marketers, veterans, etc.).

It is so stimulating to hear different perspectives, answer questions that come from different experiences, and, most importantly, see the growth among students from the first day to the last day of the cohort.”

What’s your day-to-day like? How does being an instructor fit into your routine?

“Currently, I work as a portfolio manager in healthcare. Day-to-day, I work with stakeholders in prioritizing the right business needs, collecting data to build the business case, developing the roadmap, developing appropriate solutions, and working with the teams in delivering solutions.”

Being an instructor is something that is outside of my day job. It is one of the extremely fulfilling and rewarding experiences of my life. I work during weeknights and early weekend morning, preparing the class material, reviewing homework, and developing samples or examples. 

Do you keep in touch/keep tabs on any of your students after the cohort is over?

Of course! After spending 8 to 10 weeks together, the class becomes like a family. The connection that establishes during class continues very much after the cohort is over.

Apart from being connected over LinkedIn, we have each other’s personal contact information. Students always reach out to me whenever they have questions regarding a company, need clarification regarding a job posting, need to conduct a mock interview for an upcoming interview, or need to brainstorm on a path forward. We also create WhatsApp groups where we make plans to catch up over a happy hour or BBQ at someone’s home.  

What’s the secret to succeeding as a Product Manager? 

One word: Grit.
Stick to Product Management, and your passion and perseverance will pay off. It’s a challenging ride, but I promise one of the most fun ones you will take in your lifetime.

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