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From Consulting to Product with Insite Apps Product Manager

There are some skills that transfer across from consulting to product management and those that don’t, as well as unexpected areas that will require a steep learning curve. Rahul Iyer, Product Manager at InSite Apps, answered questions about product management and talked about his own journey from consulting to product management.


From Consulting to Product with Insite Apps Product ManagerRahul Iyer

Product Manager at InSite Applications. Prior, he was a Product Manager at Qoins, Product Management Consultant at Contract Consulting and Lead Consultant at Manhattan Associates. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Science and Business Administration.



Can you talk more about how you broke into product management?

To begin, I started out of college as a consultant in Atlanta. I worked on software for the supply chain and logistics of many major retailers. As I started to grow into consulting, I realized I had always wanted to be in Tech — more specifically building things that mattered and products that impacted people.

Long story, short — I ended up leaving my job in Atlanta, moving out to SF and I started to build relationships. I scheduled anywhere from 3-6 coffee meetings a day for two months with product managers, and people I felt had done any bit or piece of what I wanted to craft myself to be.

Over the course of the next few months, I landed interviews through those meetings, eventually landing the offer I would take at InSite Applications as a Product Manager.


Any advice for people who are aspiring to transition into Product Management?

Aside from the obvious things you can Google (and of course, Product School) – I really recommend meeting as many other Product Managers as you can. For two reasons:

1) I believe, the more people you meet doing what you want to do, the more you have an understanding for yourself and interviews that you may come across.

2) Product Management is a very competitive role in tech right now. Meeting people gives you over the edge of people that may be on the same playing field or higher. I’m a huge believer in building relationships, and you’d be surprised how many people actually want to help you when you’re genuinely interested in what they want to do.


From Consulting to Product with Insite Apps Product Manager


Have you read any great books on Product Management for aspiring Product Managers?

Here are some books/people I recommend looking into.

1) Cracking the PM Interview by Gayle Laakmann McDowell
2) Inspired: How to Create Products Customers Love by Marty Cagan
3) Julie Zhou on Medium has amazing articles on Product and life.
4) Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey Moore

It’s important to note, reading as much as you can is great (and I believe you should do it a lot), but nothing beats your own experience. Go out and build things for yourself, even if it’s just prototyping or brainstorming ideas around product.


How does the product team support sales team so that they can succeed and hit their target?

I am actually at an early stage startup, so, admittedly, I have very little experience in this area of Product Management. I do recommend reading up on Julie Zhou on Medium. She has great articles that help around topics like this!


Any examples on how you showed that you’re interested in what “they want to do”?

If you’re interviewing for a product role, the number one thing you should do is research their company. See what their strengths, weaknesses, competitors do – genuinely be passionate about it. Most people feel like they have ‘to be right’ in situations like this, but coming up with your own conclusions and backing them with some reasoning is what most people are looking for.

Companies don’t expect you to have the knowledge they do – they just want to know you are competent (especially as a new PM). Aside from that, I think it’s important to build something if you can. Showing you can build and ship a product, even if it’s something as simple as an app for calculating a tip is important.


From Consulting to Product with Insite Apps Product Manager


To follow up on your suggestion to meet as many PM’s as possible, where would be a good place to run into you, for example?

Haha, well played. I bet you can find me on LinkedIn – shoot me a message, and I’d be happy to try and set something up.


How do the customers who use an app go to the website and how do you track them?

Well, there are a few tools for things like this. I recommend looking into Mixpanel, Google Analytics, and Branch. All of those tools can help with tracking users between an app and website.


How did you overcome unemployed, lack of industry experience, and lack of functional experience/expertise when you moved to SF from Atlanta?

I actually went through my process step by step. You can read the whole thing here.

But, some important things to note:

  • Build products and ship them (no matter how simple.)
  • Take every opportunity to help someone build their product.
  • Write your own opinions — this is something that is extremely underutilized. I think Kevin Lee building PMHQ is a huge example of how someone who wrote about PMing started to be considered an expert in the field.
  • Use your past experiences as an advantage. Show where certain job functions you did overlap and relate.


What are your go-to market strategy steps – are there any standard steps upon situation/project?

I think it’s entirely dependent on the company/product you are with and building. I’m currently at a startup, so we are still working on ours. But I do recommend, reading through Julie Zhou on Medium, PMHQ, and Inspired by Marty Cagan. Those three resources are a great step in learning on these topics.


From Consulting to Product with Insite Apps Product Manager


What is the difference between PM and Product Design?

I’ll defer to a favorite of mine, because of time, and she says it better than I ever could. Read it here.


Could you explain a bit of what percentage is represented in your role as Product Marketing Manager of the following: Public Speaking, Data Analytics, Social Media, and Sales?

I can’t speak for a PMM, but as a PM it realistically varies day to day and week to week. It’s all dependent on the resources your team has at hand. Some PM’s do little of some and a lot of others. Ultimately, the job of a PM is to get sh*t done and ship the product to the best of their ability.


What is your final advice for aspiring product managers?

Breaking into Product Management can be daunting, but taking the plunge is the first step. You shouldn’t be afraid of failing, as most PM’s do at some point. As Ben Horowitz would say — “If you’re going to eat sh*t, don’t nibble.” It’s entirely about what you do after. What did you learn? What will you change? 


Have any comments? Tweet us @ProductSchool 

The Product Book has arrived! Learn how to become a great Product Manager. On sale for a limited time. Get your copy here 

We teach product management courses in San Francisco, Santa Clara, Los Angeles, and New York. To learn more about our upcoming courses and how to apply click over to our course page.

How to Measure Success with Airbnb’s Product Manager

How do companies like Airbnb measure their success and what key metrics do they use? Our Slack Community presented these questions to Product Lead at Airbnb and asked what advice she would give to aspiring managers. Here’s what she had to say.


How to Measure Success with Airbnb's Product Manager

Jiaona Zhang

Product Lead at Airbnb. Previously a Product Manager at Dropbox. Before Dropbox, she worked as a Product Manager at Pocket Gems and at The Lucas Group as an Associate Consultant. Studied Energy and Economics at Yale University.  In her spare time, she renovates houses, runs team-building workshops, and creates handmade cards.



What do you think are the major differences between a PM and a Founder?

There are many similarities (many founders later became PM’s at larger companies and vice versa), but also some key differences. As a founder, you’ll spend a lot of your time working with investors and recruiting, esp after the initial build phase. As a PM, depending on your role (IC pm vs. lead), the responsibilities are different.


How important is it to code or design when you are doing product management and fulfilling the role of a Product Owner?

Neither coding nor design are the most important things because you have engineers and designers on your team. Instead, knowing trade-offs in engineering cost and design is more important. Also having user empathy, ability to work cross functionally, and being able to critique design based on first principles around what the user problem is — these are more important skills.


How do qualitative data affect decision-making after the early discovery phase, especially on a time crunch?

Qualitative research is super important in all phases. There’s two types of qualitative research: longitudinal studies and usability testing. The first is around understanding problems and the second is around testing solutions (mocks, prototypes.)


What are challenges faced while building 2-sided products?

There are many challenges, but the biggest one is balancing the supply and demand. If you drive demand with there being adequate supply, you’ll have disappointed guests. If you drive supply without demand, your supply (e.g. hosts and listings) will churn.


How to Measure Success with Airbnb's Product Manager



What are the key metrics you use to measure the success of your products?

Depends on the product. I like the OKR model because it doesn’t lose sight of the objective. If you’re working on a funnel (or on a growth problem), metrics are pretty clear (how many people at each stage, etc.). If you work on something like a new product line or some more ambiguous (risk, quality, etc.), that’s where the OKR model is more efficient. Happy to talk more about OKR’s if folks are interested. Please like this to express interest, and I can dive in more.

What I’ll add is that it’s critical to get alignment on the O. Then with the KR’s, you need to feel confident that those are the right levers to get to your objective.

Check out: How Google sets goals: OKRs


How are the teams structured at Airbnb? Do you ever have to choose between engineering and design resources?

We have teams constructed with both, but yes, when you’re asking for resources, sometimes you need to trade off if you’re going to lean in and ask for more eng or more design. I hate wasted engineering, and so I always prefer to make sure my teams are staffed well with product, data, research, and design so that we are very certain of the products that will make an impact.


How much does collecting data/feedback come from algorithms embedded on the site/app vs. in-person observations and interviews?

Both, with more one or the other depending on the stage of the product. The Early stage you lean more into in-person interviews. Later stage, you can use the logged data. Also, depends on whether you’re doing an optimization (e.g. search ranking change) or you’re building a new product ( the offsitesnew mobile app we launched where we leaned heavily into user interviews and qual.)


Product Management is not about being the boss. What do you do to motivate the product teams you lead?

More important factor for most teams is that they
1) know where they’re doing, and
2) understand why it’s important/impact.
3) understand that more off sites, recognition, etc. is motivating.


How to Measure Success with Airbnb's Product Manager


Can you walk through your process of prioritizing the different product requests from the various stakeholders/teams? 

Depending on if you’re leading a platform team vs. an outcome team, the way you interact with stakeholders and the way you prioritize requests are different. For a platform team (example: payments), understanding the requirements of other product teams, BD, and FP&A is critical to your success. If you’re an outcome team (e.g. marketplace optimization), you can be more siloed and push back on requests.


Any advice as to how someone can focus on improving skills as a PM? External resources, books, courses, etc.?

Characteristics of a Good Product Manager (Rian van der Merwe)

Good Product Manager, Bad Product Manager (Ben Horowitz)

The Venn Diagram of PM Skills (Jackie Bavaro)

What Distinguishes the Top 1% PMs? (Ian McAllister)


How do you involve the team in discussions about new products or features? What’s the basic structure or frameworks do you use?

I organize design sprints and also brainstorm/planning onsite “offsites.” People like having a framework to respond to, so a lot of work goes into a roadmap doc or strategy doc before you open it up for discussion. Given people clear components to give feedback on is important. Sharing weekly with the team what’s top of mind and opening it up for them to give feedback is also key.


What do you dislike most about being a PM and how to do you work through it (read: what should a PM be prepared to tackle in any PM role)?

Every PM is different. I like to challenge folks to think about where they lie in the spectrum for the following:

1) Starter / Finisher
2) Owner / Executor
3) Big Picture / Details
4) Technical / Nontechnical
5) Political / Autonomous

Based on where you naturally gravitate, there can be stuff that you find less enjoyable. For example, prefer to be more autonomous, than being on a product with lots of involvement from leadership and stakeholders will different opinions can be frustrating. If you’re a starter, getting something from zero to 1 is exciting, but then scaling form 1-100 can be tedious. 


How to Measure Success with Airbnb's Product Manager


What is your Superpower as a PM? Was it developed or discovered?

This is a great question, and something I ask all my PM’s to understand about themselves. My superpower is getting from point A to point B in scrappy, creative ways and really leveraging team/people on that journey (recruiting and challenging people to wear multiple hats like the engineer taking on usability thinking, the designer taking on the PM work, etc.)


Do you set up the strategic inputs as part of your role as Product Manager at Airbnb?

For my core team and from exec leadership, I set them up. For us to solicit feedback from functions across the company (policy, legal, community operations, customer support), I work with and ask my PMM to drive those.


What’s your final advice for aspiring product managers?

For aspiring PMs, my biggest piece of advice is to figure out how to immediately start doing it.

There’s no amount of reading/books or going to bootcamp that’s as helpful as getting your foot in the door and getting hands-on experience. If you’re at a company where there is a product function, ask as PM you know if you can take on small projects.

If you’re working on a team where there’s a PM, help them out with project management, creating momentum and excitement on the team, organizing design sprints, etc. If you’re not at a company where Product is a function, and you’re really serious about moving to product, interview at companies that are taking on APMs/junior PMs.  

Finally, if you’re not 100% sure but want to understand your interest better, work on a side project where you have to understand a user pain point, create a solution, recruit a team to work with you, and execute to deliver the solution/product. Hope this helps! 


How to Measure Success with Airbnb's Product Manager


Have any comments? Tweet us @ProductSchool 

Get The Product Book – How to Become a Great Product Manager now!

We teach product management courses in San Francisco, Santa Clara, Los Angeles, and New York. To learn more about our upcoming courses and how to apply click over to our course page.


Product Management Events in August 2017

This August we’ll continue delivering a great mix of Product Management, Coding and Data Analytics events for everyone. Our amazing past events have featured speakers from Amazon, Airbnb and Facebook. This month we’ll bring you professionals from Google, Spotify, and PayPal just to mention a few.

Product Management Events in August 2017


Check all our events for August below:




Wednesday, August 2nd

How to Interview Customers with Square’s PM
Speaker: Kevin Yien, Product Manager at Square.

The objective of this workshop is to teach you how to listen for learnings to influence any decisions you need to make, including: building a product, marketing a product, selling a product.


Thursday, August 3rd

Data Analytics for PM’s Info Session w/ WeWork’s Data Scientist
Speaker: Adam Owens, Data Scientist at WeWork, data science and analytics professional.

How do you build and implement an effective analytics strategy that quantifies and drives success and iteration? Don’t miss this free event to learn why Data is not just for “analysts” or “scientists”. Get a chance to ask any questions you might have.


Wednesday, August 9th

User Testing & Prototyping for Success w/ Viacom Product Manager
Speaker: Rachel Fairbanks, Product Manager at Viacom.

User testing is a crucial aspect of the product development process that often gets overlooked – or is incorporated too late to avoid the costs of building features that don’t meet the right needs. The ability to quickly prototype and test key ideas early and often will help you to determine the overall value and usability of features, and allows you to build the right thing the first time.


Thursday, August 10th

Coding Info Session with Rent the Runway’s Software Engineer
Speaker: Vitaly Sergeyev, Software Engineer for Rent the Runway.

Do you want to take your career to the next level? Thinking about learning Code to amp up your career? Then don’t miss this free event to learn why coding is not just for software engineers. Get a chance to ask any questions you might have on learning Code as a manager.


Wednesday, August 16th

How to Become a Product Manager with Betterment’s PM
Speaker: Matt Salefski, Group Product Manager at Betterment.

Join us for this free open doors session to get an overview of our part-time product management course curriculum, meet the lead instructor and have the chance to ask any additional questions that you might have about what it takes to become a product manager.


Thursday, August 17th

The Why & How of Enterprise Analytics w/ Spotify Data Scientist
Speaker: Gordon Silvera, Senior Data Scientist on Spotify’s Data SWAT squad.

As “big data” and “data science” become increasingly mature practices, businesses have started to demand ROI from their investments in analytics. In fact, senior stakeholders at some companies cast doubt on the need for data science.


Thursday, August 24th

Intro to Product Data Analysis with Python: Go Beyond + Ultra
Speaker: MD Arefin, a Software Engineer at J.P.Morgan.

As product owner, one can easily do their own product research, graphs and analysis with Python. We will discuss how to implement web scraping, gather data from social media about specific products, and how to make analysis of one’s findings.




Wednesday, August 2nd

“Ask Me Anything” with Postmates’ Director of Product
Speaker: Mike Burk, Director of Product at Postmates.

Ever wondered what it’s like to work as a Product Manager? What about as a Product Manager at Google? This is an exclusive, Q&A session to give you a chance to ask every question you’ve ever had, with Mike Burk, former VP of Product at Scoot.


Thursday, August 3rd

How to Prioritize as a PM by Google’s Product Manager
Speaker: Jeff Betts, Product Manager at Google.

Jeff Betts, a Product Manager at Google, will cover the problem-solving framework and share insights and anecdotes from his user-first approach to product development and prioritization strategy.


Wednesday, August 9th

The PM Interviewing Process for Big Logos w/ GoogleX’s former PM
Speaker: Chandan Lodha, former PM at GoogleX.

Do you want to be a Product Manager at a top tech company? While each company and each interview can be unique, there are general patterns and tips that you can follow to present your best self during the interview process.


Thursday, August 10th

10 Commandments of Product Management with LinkedIn’s PM
Speaker: Christian Byza, Senior Product Manager at LinkedIn.

From vertical to horizontal product management: Learn how Christian’s roles changed from owning a vertical slice of a solution to a horizontal ownership of an entire market and what it takes to build great products in a large organization.


Tuesday, August 15th

Product School Alumni Happy Hour with Free Headshots
Host: Product School San Francisco

Come join us for an exclusive Alumni-only Happy Hour here at Product School. Grab a beer and meet with other alumni along with instructors and the PS team to discuss your Product Management journey and grow your network.


Wednesday, August 16th

Gaming Product Management with Playstation’s Product Manager
Speaker: Matt Herrick, Product Manager at Playstation.

Being a Product Manager in gaming is a very different world. Matt Herrick, a veteran gaming PM from Playstation and Glu Mobile, will discuss data analytics, A/B testing, the gaming ecosystem, and monetization strategies to help attendees better understand this industry.


Thursday, August 17th

Building Products for Emerging Markets w/ Google’s PM
Speaker: Joris Van Mens, Product Manager at Google.

Building products for cultures and people that are very different from your surroundings is a complex task. It requires deep research efforts and a highly structured way of solving product questions. Joris will explain how Google’s product teams solve these types of problems.


Wednesday, August 23rd

“Ask Me Anything” with Square’s Product Manager
Speaker: Ron Lai, Product Manager at Square.

Ever wondered what it’s like to work as a Product Manager? This is an exclusive Q&A session to give you a chance to ask every question you’ve ever had, with Ron Lai, Product Manager at Square.


Thursday, August 24th

Dirty Little Secrets of Product Management with LinkedIn’s PM
Speaker: Alexis Baird, Senior Product Manager at LinkedIn.

While everyone will talk about setting product strategy, defining features, maintaining a roadmap, managing an engineering team, and putting together a successful product launch, what else do you need to know to be a successful product manager?


Wednesday, August 30th

Becoming a Successful PM with Product School’s Founder
Speaker: Carlos González de Villaumbrosia, CEO of Product School.

Come hear insights on how to be a successful PM in Silicon Valley. We’ll also cover how to grow your career once you’re a product manager. We plan to have an interactive discussion and will be crowdsourcing and answering questions from the audience in real time.




Wednesday, August 2nd

On Big Data with PayPal’s Product Manager
Speaker: Sonia Singhal, Product Manager at Paypal.

Building an analytics strategy is crucial for every Product Manager. How do you build and implement an effective product analytics strategy that quantifies and drives product success and iteration?


Thursday, August 3rd

Data for Managers w/ the Founder of Product School
Speaker: Carlos Gonzalez de Villaumbrosia, Founder and CEO of Product School.

Join the founder of Product School as he discusses Data Analytics and the specifics neccessary to understand as a Manager.


Wednesday, August 9th

Intro to Tableau with Google’s Former Data Analyst
Speaker: Paula Leonova, former Data Analyst at Google.

Gain an introduction to data analysis and visual design in Tableau, and learn how to build views and interactive dashboards. Our speaker, Paula Leonova, will offer a detailed demo and answer any of your questions around how to use this software.


Thursday, August 10th

Building a Lovable Product w/ IBM’s former Program Director
Speaker: Jin Zhang, former Program Director at IBM.

What makes a product lovable? It must solve a customer’s problem and it must be designed with the user’s experience and goals in mind.


Wednesday, August 16th

Working as a PM in a Startup Environment w/ Banjo’s PM
Speaker: Matt Bariletti, Product Manager at Banjo.

There is no single way to get into product management. We will talk about the different skills you need to be successful and how your journey doesn’t need to be the same as anyone else.


Wednesday, August 23rd

How to Crack the PM Interview with Zillow’s Former PM
Speaker: Justin Hu, former Product Manager at Zillow.

Developers, designers, folks with business backgrounds who want to become a PM usually struggle breaking into the role. During this talk you’ll learn what it takes to become a PM and see how to make up for areas where you lack experience.


Wednesday, August 30th

Intro to Artificial Intelligence w/ Target’s Director of PM
Speaker: Aarthi Srinivasan, Director of Product Management at Target.

Given that Machine Learning (ML) is on every product enthusiast’s mind, this talk will give you a broad view of the investment landscape for future innovation.


Thursday, August 31st

How to Effectively Onboard as a PM w/ Google’s Former PM
Speaker: Vikram Chatterji, former Product Manager at Google.

For those of us that have switched jobs before, we know how essential the first month can be. The crucial on-boarding process is where you begin creating relationships, understanding the internal jargon and workings of the company, all while figuring out the scope of your role and how you can make impact.




Wednesday, August 2nd

The Real on Music & Tech w/ Universal Music Group Dir of Product
Speaker: Heba Asmar, Director of Product at Universal Music Group.

The ever growing industries within music and technology is of extreme importance here in Los Angeles. Heba will demonstrate her passions in both industries to show the melodic effects that help drive a product environment in Music. 


Wednesday, August 9th

“How I Cracked into Product Management” w/ former Cornerstone PM
Speaker: Emad Radwan, former Product Manager at Cornerstone OnDemand.

This is an exclusive session to give you a chance to understand Emad’s path to being a Product Manager. Learn and ask every question you’ve ever had, with Emad Radwan, former Product Manager at CornerstoneOnDemand.


Tuesday, August 15th

A Journey Through Product & Data w/ AwesomenessTV Data Scientist
Speaker: Annie Flippo, Data Scientist at AwesomenessTV.

Understanding how to access and interpret data is critical for the modern PM. Building an analytics strategy is also crucial for every Product Manager and Data Scientists. How do you build and implement an effective product analytics strategy?


Wednesday, August 23rd

Do’s and Don’ts of Starting a Company w/ Founder of Grub Runner
Speaker: Sameer Khan, Founder of Grub Runner.

Through his “Do’s and Don’ts” you’ll get the inside scoop on the day-to-day work as a PM and a founder, the challenges of the job and personal insight from Sameer’s experience at working at different companies.


Tuesday, August 29th

Better Living Through Analytics – Strategies for Data Decisions
Speaker: Louis Cialdella, Data Scientist at ZipRecruiter.

The purpose of this data talk will enlighten people on how to make sure that analysts can successfully partner with other departments and get them the information they need to do great things.


Wednesday, August 30th

“Ask Me Anything” with Cornerstone OnDemand’s Senior PM
Speaker: Steve Elmer, Senior Product Manager on the Learning Product for Cornerstone OnDemand.

Ever wondered what it’s like to work as a Product Manager? This is an exclusive Q&A session to give you a chance to ask every question you’ve ever had, with Steve Elmer, Senior Product Manager at Cornerstone OnDemand.




Tuesday, August 8th

The Agile Product Manager with Cornerstone’s PM
Speaker: Nick Lesec, Product Manager at Cornerstone OnDemand.

A critical part of any Product Manager’s job is execution. In this talk, he’ll teach you the Agile and SCRUM process for building software so you and your team can realize your product vision.




Tuesday, August 22nd

Product Party! Product School’s Official OC Launch!
Host: Product School Orange County

Although we teach part-time Product Management courses, Data Analytics Course, and Coding Courses, we love celebrations and nothing better than Happy Hour Launch PARTY! Please be sure to RSVP early as space is limited!




Tuesday, August 1st

[Live Chat] with Slack’s First Product Manager
Host: Kenneth Berger, the first Product Manager at Slack, an executive coach.

Curious about the life and world of a Product Manager? What’s it all about? Bring your questions to our exclusive Slack “Ask Me Anything” session to ask every product related question you’ve ever had, with Slack’s first Product Manager.


Thursday, August 10th

[Webinar] The Validation Toolbox w/ PM at Cancer Research UK
Host: Ane Silva, Product Manager at Cancer Research UK.

As Product Managers and aspiring product managers, learning is all part of the process. That doesn’t change if you’ve been a PM for one day or ten years. This session focuses on the lessons Neha Monga learned from launching products over her 10+ years long career as a product manager.


Thursday, August 24th

[Webinar] Roadmapping: Do you Need to Make a U-turn? w/ Dell PM
Host: Mahuya Ghosh, Senior Product Manager at Dell.

As Product Managers, we all may have come across fellow comrades showing complicated probabilistic or deterministic prioritization algorithms based on weighted factors like velocity, revenue impact, resources, complexity of features, customer acceptance etc. They might have also thrown in a macro-laced spreadsheet for good measure.


Have any comments? Tweet us @ProductSchool 

Get The Product Book – How to Become a Great Product Manager now for only $2.99!

We teach product management courses in San Francisco, Santa Clara, Los Angeles, and New York. To learn more about our upcoming courses and how to apply click over to our course page.

From a Developer Role to Product Management with Guess? PM

What is the right background for a Product Manager? There isn’t one right answer, but surely, we can all agree that it varies between companies and it’ll never hurt to have some coding, data analytics or tech knowledge. Our Slack community presented Product related questions to the Product Manager at Guess? Inc Mobile. He explained how an engineering or data analytics background can help you get into Product.


From a Developer Role to Product Management with Guess? PMMaanas Bukkuri

Mobile Product Manager at Guess? Inc. Mobile and an Instructor at Product School Los Angeles. Previously, a Product Manager at HYFN, Consultant for the Delivery Team at Sysrepublic and Software Engineer at Epsilon. Holds a Bachelors and Masters Degree in Computer Science.



Can you tell us more about how you broke into product management?

I’ve always had an inexplicable love for technology. I looked up to my father who was a Mechanical Engineer turned Software Professional. I’ve always had a computer around.

I was privileged enough to go to a University – where I lived on the internet – learned to code from day 1. From there, I worked with several companies as a Developer. Slowly I realized how much of a drag development can be if the proper research hasn’t been done.

Eventually I found myself in a consultant role, where I was wearing several hats. But while wearing a lot of those hats, I was playing adhoc product manager. I was wireframing, talking to users, understanding problems, working towards consensus, planning, development, testing and releases.

Then I went to GA, took a Product Management course part-time. I found that what I was doing had a name – and pursued becoming a Product Manager. I’ve managed Product at HYFN right after that I graduated that class. Now I manage all of the mobile apps at GUESS? Inc. I’m blessed to have walked this career path. Starting this weekend I’m teaching Product Management at Product School! Really exciting stuff!


What is your suggestion for someone with data analytics background transitioning to product management?

Transitioning from analytics to product management is actually pretty easy. You have to spin your story a certain way. Product success is heavily based on the impact you are making on the business. The only way you can show business impact is by defining Metrics and tracking them.

Coming from an Analytics background, all you have to do is show that! You understand the business impact a product can have – and when defining the feature, you can clearly articulate how set up the tagging in the product in order to track the metric to success.


From a Developer Role to Product Management with Guess? PM


Can you give examples of KPI for a payment gateway (in reference to mobile wallet app)?

I’m honestly not an expert in this. But at a high level, I would look at the impact in user experience. I’m assuming your gateway is 3rd party – I would definitely recommend looking at what the Response Time for submitting a payment is. How many times does the Payment Decline? What is the level of frustration of the user on decline? Is the User Interface setup in a way that all of the proper information is prompted up front?


Metrics play a great role in Product Management. What tools do you use?

Metrics play a monumental role in Product Management. You have to be able to show business impact and also understand user behavior.

Currently, we are using Mixpanel and Urban Airship. In terms of user behavior, Mixpanel does a good job of allowing you to gather user data – this is always good to understand what each person is doing, especially if a specific person’s phone is constantly crashing the app! Urban Airship has functionality that will help you track and hone on on specific states that the user is in. For example, if their bag has a certain product in it, and you want to market to them.


What skills does a PM who’s worked primarily with B2B products need to develop to excel in a consumer-facing environment?

User FirstYou have to put the user first. Before anyone else in the company, including your boss. You cannot take any stakeholder’s (especially your boss/direct report) requests as gospel.

Consensus – this is one of the hardest ones. You need to be able to put several high profile stakeholders in one room and get them to agree on things.

Connecting deeper – a lot of times very much on a personal level. You have to be the social captain, take people out to lunch, watercooler conversations, understand their personal problems. All of these will help you gain the influence you need, when you need that person to work a little extra to push that feature out this week!

Mastering Process and Tools – Look at other companies that are developing quickly – keep them on the radar. Lyft and  Airbnb come to mind. They rapidly prototype and test things out with the user, weeks before a single line of code has been written.

Discipline – Stick to a schedule. You have to be able to get your work done, set goals daily, and make sure you hit them. Or else you will fall behind.

From a Developer Role to Product Management with Guess? PM


Any advice on transitioning from a software development role (frontend/working with ux/leading other devs) to PM?

This is actually considered your biggest strength and weakness. I would know, I was a developer once.

My biggest advice to anyone transitioning to Product Management from Development is – do not over-empathize with Engineers. Being one yourself, puts you in a delicate state. You know the ins and outs of development. You need to still challenge them to make sure that you are pushing their limits. Your estimates might be much better than other PM’s that don’t necessarily come from a technical background. But that doesn’t excuse you from that.

To answer your specific question, if you were focused on front end work, make sure you are up to date on the latest tools that will make your front end developers’ lives easy – such as Sketch to Zeplin. If you are fortunate enough to have a UX person on your team, make sure that they are using tools that improves the process between UX to Dev.


Please explain product process in short from initiation to launch phase at Guess and your role in each phase?

Let me break it into these steps.

Ideation – I usually hold brainstorming sessions to ensure that all stakeholders are involved in conversations when building features. These happen fairly frequently once every two weeks or so.

Design – I lead UX for mobile apps here. I’m focusing on User Flows and Scenarios first. Then work through Sketch to InVision in order to quickly prototype. I depend on creative teams here for design assets.

Testing – I take those prototypes and test them with several users.

Development – Sketch to Zeplin makes it easy to share exactly what changes you need to make in the app – with developers. Then it’s a fairly standard process to get stories into the product backlog, groom and estimate.

Planning Development and Releases – I usually lead the discussions around this – and make sure that all affected cross-functional teams are involved and informed.

Beyond Release and Development – We have a mobile marketing team here that usually keeps an eye on metrics to help me identify what’s working and what isn’t – so that I can make decisions on what to do next.


What kind of software tools can I use for a product management cycle to track KPI’s of team members, ROI, improving communication strategy?

Most of these are actually done easily in JIRA – that’s usually the common tool that companies use nowadays. You have burndown charts that show what the velocity of your team is. ROI is usually pretty easy to calculate based on that velocity. You should be creating your sprints based on that velocity – that way your expectations are managed accordingly.

Improving communication strategy should be discussed with the team during a team Retrospective. Those meetings really bring the team together – keeping track of the meeting notes on the team overtime also helps to see what the needs of the team are.


From a Developer Role to Product Management with Guess? PM


What books have helped you become a better product manager?

I don’t really read a lot of books. I spend a lot of time on Medium. But here are a few:

Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance
Mindset: The New Psychology of Success
The War of Art
What Would Google Do?
Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products
User Stories Applied: For Agile Software Development

I’m currently Reading The Art of Product Management.
Product Manager’s Desk Reference Guide (more skimming when I need it.)


What is some advice you can offer to aspiring product managers?

I would recommend anyone that wants to become a product manager to take a course. There are several online ones that are free to very low cost. And there are also several institutions (if you can afford) that will teach you the basics of product management such as Product School.

It’s important for you to know the process end to end, starting from ideation, to user research, to personas, to pains/gains, empathy, user flows, scenarios, wireframes (low-fi & high-fi), to development, QA, testing, release, metrics, consensus with stakeholders… and so much more.

Until I saw the whole process end to end, I didn’t realize what it meant to be a product manager.

At the end of the day, anyone can be a product manager. But that anyone has to have passion. The P in Product Manager stands for Passion.

So stay passionate and be the best product manager you can be! 


From a Developer Role to Product Management with Guess? PM


How do you deal with a difficult co-worker when you’re a PM?

Difficult co-workers happen, especially when you are working in a corporate environment. It depends on the kind of conflict. PM’s don’t have a lot of help unfortunately when it comes to this. We are employed in a way that no one reports to us. So everyone is fairly brutally honest with us – which can be good and bad.

I would recommend bringing this up in a Sprint Retrospective. If you are having issues with a specific co-worker, it’s likely that other co-workers are having the same issues. It’s better to talk this through the retrospective (hopefully with a few beers) and resolve the issue. I’ve had several issues resolved either in retrospectives or outside of work over dinner.


Have any comments? Tweet us @ProductSchool 

Get The Product Book – How to Become a Great Product Manager now for only $2.99!

We teach product management courses in San Francisco, Santa Clara, Los Angeles, and New York. To learn more about our upcoming courses and how to apply click over to our course page.

How to Be a Great Product Manager with Facebook PM

Every Product Managers wants to be great at what they do and succeed. There are lots of good PM’s out there in big and small tech companies but how does one become a great Product Manager and what does it mean to be outstanding in product management? George Zeng from Facebook gave a talk about this, and he also talked about how you can achieve and maintain a successful PM career. 



How to Be a Great Product Manager with Facebook PMGeorge Zeng 

Product Manager at Facebook for Acquisition Solutions Ads. Prior to being a Product Manager he was the co-founder, CEO and Product Lead at AirCare Labs, the Head of Sales for Southern China at Groupon, the Senior Associate at McKinsey & Company and an Analyst at Goldman Sachs. He holds an MBA and Bachelor’s degree in Economics, Finance and Chinese language.


Unusually good performance

“In order to obtain unusual results, do either unusual things or usual things in an unusual way.” If you’re always doing the usual thing in a usual way you’re never changing anything and that doesn’t inspire people. If you change either the things you’re doing or the way of doing them to the unusual you get something new and good out of it. 

George talked about the difference between usual and unusual things and the way of doing them. We have picked the best bits of his talk for this article.


How to do the unusual

If a student that studies the average amount and gets a B he/she is doing the usual thing in the usual way. If another student spends all of his/her time in the library studying and only gets A’s he/she is doing the usual thing but in an unusual way.

If a good-looking and popular student is running for the president and wins he/she is doing the unusual thing in a usual way. However, if you want to be the one doing the unusual things in an unusual way you have to do something different. For example, you can teach yourself to code, create your own bestselling game, sell it and by the time you go to college you have already accomplished something.


How to Be a Great Product Manager with Facebook PM


The unusual in Product Management

There’s a picture on the wall at Facebook that says “Understand, Identify, Execute.” This is the framework of building products. Building products is about good executions. You have a plan and you execute on the plan. If the execution isn’t good you don’t know if the strategy is good.

In addition to having the right plan you have to identify the right opportunity to execute on. Without the right opportunity you can’t build anything impactful or meaningful. You also have to understand the goals you’ve set.

When you have all the three principals taken into consideration you have the pieces to build great products.


Speed as the primary execution strategy

Speed is important because it allows a Product Manager to experiment, refine and have a margin of error in the execution. It also allows more time and output for the PM and his/her team. Execution speed “10x” allows time for the things like continuous roadmapping, dialogue with stakeholders and other non-urgent activities that would not be possible otherwise.

Hacking the time and using it in the most efficient way is the key to achieving the “10x” execution speed.


How to Be a Great Product Manager with Facebook PM


How to improve efficiency and be a great PM

So how can one become a great Product Manager? Here are a couple of tips that might help.

Meetings. Product Managers have a lot of meetings – save time by batching them.
Deep work. Optimize your time for deep work.
Co-develop. Co-develop products – build the right products for the right customer and obtain quick adoption.
Time. Time-shift schedule (saves time, for example, when commuting.)
Machines. Use 2-3 monitors, use Windows for Outlook/PowerPoint/Excel and Mac for coding, automated email rules.
Relationships. Invest in relationship building.
Health. Stay healthy by eating well, placing your screen at the right height, and consider supplements for vitamins, for example.
Read. Read a lot regularly, learn, research, tech things to yourself and talk about what you’ve learned with other people and deepen your learning.


How to Be a Great Product Manager with Facebook PM


Questions from the audience



How do you get into deep thinking quicker?

You have to find what works for you. For me, I’m able to do a lot of deep thinking early in the mornings and that’s why I wake up at 5am. Literally all of our product strategy and product specs are written between 6 or 7 and about 9.30 in the morning for the team where I work. I also find blocking time to be important.

There are a lot more tactical things that you can do to get into deep thinking quicker so for some of the bio hacking stuff for me has helped immensely with energy and concentration that helps me get into deep thinking quickly. Some things like time management techniques like Pomodoro or other techniques also help where you balance deep thinking with not being fatigued. There are different things you can do but I don’t have a magic bullet for you.


How can meetings be better organized/optimized?

Meetings end up being potentially a huge drag on Product Managers’ productivity. There are a bunch of different ways how they we can hack or optimize this. A few ideas I have are to shorten 30 minute meetings to 15 minutes. I’ve been very intentional about how many meetings I have and who to involve in those meetings. If you involve everyone in the meetings it’s a bigger task.

Also sending agendas upfront helps. There are a whole bunch of different ways that you can optimize this. Sometimes objectives go directly against each other. For example, one of my intentions of building very strong relationships through one-on-one directly increases the number of meetings I have. Meetings are difficult because I don’t know how you can get rid of them entirely because there’s still a unit of order of communication and getting some very basic work done.


How to Be a Great Product Manager with Facebook PM


How can I get unusual results if I’m usual intelligence?

Let me give you an example of things you can do assuming the usual level of intelligence. Firstly I think people sometimes measure intelligence in two dimensional of a way. You can be intelligent in multiple different ways so I wouldn’t necessarily penalize yourself because you might be very intelligent in a way that a bunch of people here are not.

Tech and engineering tend to over emphasize on the rational and logical but there are other creative forms of intelligence as well. Even if you do assume based on the level of intelligence I don’t think the heart of doing unusual things or things in an unusual way is intelligence. I think it’s creativity.

For example, let’s say that it’s creativity and initiative. Let’s say that you are in a small town and you want to go to college but your real passion is for music. I actually think I heard of a student that went and volunteered at a local radio station and ended up rising through the ranks into hosting her own show. Is that something that fits into the model of intelligence of a student getting an A+ in computer science? It’s something that’s creative and that took an initiative that has nothing to do with how good you are at math.

So again I think the unusual things and the unusual framework is more about creativity initiative than it’s about pure intelligence. 


Have any comments? Tweet us @ProductSchool 

Get The Product Book – How to Become a Great Product Manager now for only $2.99!

We teach product management courses in San Francisco, Santa Clara, Los Angeles, and New York. To learn more about our upcoming courses and how to apply click over to our course page.

How to Get a Product Management Job at LinkedIn

They say that LinkedIn is the dream employer. They put a lot of time and effort into each person’s success in the company and care about everyone’s well being. They motivate their employees to reach their goals and they have very few bad managers in the company.The culture within the company is young, trusting and vibrant, and they embrace diversity because it’s what makes them unique.

If that wasn’t enough to reassure you to apply for a job at LinkedIn and see it for yourself they also hold monthly InDays where they “ encourage their employees to explore new ideas, volunteer for special causes and invest in whatever inspires them.” If you want to join this awesome and diverse team, here’s how you can do it:


How to Get a Product Management Job at LinkedIn


Skills needed at LinkedIn

Previous experience. Depending on the job you want the required experience in a Product Management or equivalent role is somewhere between 4 years (for a Product Manager role) and 10+ years (for a Group Product Manager role.) Make sure you’re also experienced in building web products and have the ability to drive product planning, development and launch.

Technical background. In addition to possessing really good communication skills LinkedIn wants the applicants to understand technical subjects and emerging technologies and their relevance to the marketplace. You should a hold a BS degree in a technology-related field.

Knowledge. Because the Internet is fast moving and always changing LinkedIn wants the applicants to understand the most recent trends in consumer web usage. They should be experienced in social media and be informed of the Internet, emerging web technologies and community building.

Abilities. Be capable of managing and leading highly cross-functional teams and to communicate to both technical and non-technical audiences in a clear manner. If on top of everything you’re also passionate with a good sense of humor, like collaborating, and are driven to deliver results go ahead and apply for LinkedIn.

LinkedIn user. When applying for a job at LinkedIn it’s an advantage to be a LinkedIn user yourself and follow the news and updates related to LinkedIn. If you’re not a user then at least do your research and find out what their mission, vision, strategy, culture, and values are.


You can check out all LinkedIn job openings here.


Interview questions at LinkedIn

Prepare yourself to answer questions about the challenges that Product Managers face every day. Here are a few examples to help you out:

A/B testing – How would you test a LinkedIn feature when you don’t have any data to base the decision off of?
Acquisition –  Describe how would you pitch Microsoft CEO that LinkedIn is a good acquisition.
Experience– What are your two main product management principles? How would you use your experience in Business to help LinkedIn? (If you have an MBA.)
Improvements – What improvements would you make to the site? How would you improve the signing process of LinkedIn?
Insight – What is the LinkedIn feature that you love?
Metrics and KPI’s – What are some main KPI’s for project X?
Production – At what point is the product ready for production?


How to Get a Product Management Job at LinkedIn


The interview process

Over 80,000 job applications are sent to LinkedIn every year but not all of them are qualified to go forward. However, it’s important to know what to expect before starting the whole process. Here’s what the interview process is roughly like.

  • Takes 1-3 months
  • Send out an online application
  • Phone screening with the recruiter
  • Interview call with the hiring Product Manager
  • Onsite interview with the team members such as the Engineering Manager, Data Science Manager, and Product Managers from various teams (takes a few hours, be prepared.)


Check out what people that applied for a PM job at LinkedIn thought about the process here.

To help you crack the product management interview check out this video with Randy Edgar, the Product Manager at Uber and this article.


Resume – Work on your LinkedIn profile

Funny enough because LinkedIn was built for professional to connect, network and achieve more in their careers the best thing you can do in terms of resume is to update your LinkedIn profile. Use it as your resume and make it great. Here are a couple of tips on how to do that best.

  • Set a professional looking picture of yourself
  • Fill in your full job history
  • Add your education
  • Build your connections network (the more robust the better)
  • Interact with your connections in the comments area
  • Post small blog posts, project, presentations or even short videos to show off your knowledge and skills.’
  • Follow LinkedIn to show interest in them and keep updated with the latest news


How to Get a Product Management Job at LinkedIn


Additional resources to prepare for an interview at LinkedIn

Check out this interview in Cosmopolitan.
Read through this article about How to Land a Job at LinkedIn.
Learn more about the culture and working environment at LinkedIn here.
Take the most out of your LinkedIn profile with these tips.
Check out these 3 secrets from LinkedIn on how to get hired.
Take a look at this article.
Check out LinkedIn on the list of best places to work 2017 by Glassdoor.


Have any comments? Tweet us @ProductSchool

We teach product management courses in San Francisco, Santa Clara, Los Angeles, and New York. To learn more about our upcoming courses and how to apply click over to our course page.