I grew up in India. How can I be a good product manager in the U.S., Bosky?
We were so excited to host Bosky Mukherjee, the founder at PMDojo & Spark To Substance, an ex Atlassian, a fractional executive & product coach. She introduces herself as a Fractional Business, Product and Growth Executive who’s innate passion is in building inclusive teams and products with lasting impacts. As the Founder & CEO of 2 companies — PMDojo & Spark To Substance her life’s mission and passion is to grow and develop the next generation of product managers and product leaders.
She says she has been fortunate to have been part of startups and Fortune 500 companies both in Vancouver and Silicon Valley. She defines herself as an entrepreneur, a builder, an innovator, a product strategist and a people coach with 18 years of experience growing SaaS organizations. Her passion lies at the intersection of complex and hard business problems that need an empathetic and creative way to solve them. Her expertise lies in scaling the growth stage and turning around companies. She conducts 1:1 or team level coaching, strategic consulting & advisory services, facilitating high stake strategic decision, product & growth advisory services. She frames her superpower as cutting through all the noise and facilitation with empathetic storytelling.
Here are our insights from Bosky’s teaching…
Learnings from Bosky Mukherjee
- Bosky said goodbye to the corporate world as she ventured into the unexpected and hectic world of entrepreneurship. She shared her insights on how a lot of people come to US surrounding visa issues. A way to approach the situation is to come in as a student and then pursue an internship, and correspondingly, a job. Immigration laws are problematic and difficult for many, especially since it is a lottery based system in the US. That is why the student route could make sense. Many people also choose to work at multinational companies in their home country and then take internal transfers. Regardless, most countries look for experience, even if it was a similar role. You should find ways to find relatable experiences.
- Initially Bosky had no term to define what she was passionate about. Product management is a relatively new thing that she discovered she loved while working in a startup with 5 people. In this experience, she found that her role was not boxed, as she found herself doing many different tasks from development to account management. She says you don’t have to have a technical background. Indeed, you can come from many backgrounds. The only way it could be a challenge would be if the product is extremely technical.
- The necessary skill set varies for a product manager. The philosophy and style of product management should be established and it may depend on what kind of background the product manager comes from.
In many cases Bosky says product management hiring teams look for people who are passionate about solving problems. Bosky recommends that you should have your why ready for product management. You have to make your “why” very clear. A lot of people come in saying that they love making hard decisions, want to have an impact on the decision making directly, they love interacting with customers. If they come from technical backgrounds they say they are familiar with the technicalities or that they can better manage the stakeholders.
Bosky says that these are really generic. In the world of product management, you are constantly competing with many applicants. You will want to stay memorable for the hiring managers and recruiters and find ways in which you can stand out. You are not looking for an engineering role, so the technical background and the CV isn’t directly going to help you stand out. First and foremost, you have to be passionate about the problem space. You should want to break into problems for users that are commonly experienced and deliver a compelling story on why you are the right person to solve these problems for them. Storytelling and the ability to communicate in written and verbal formats will also be significant assets in this respect.
Bosky once experienced something during a hiring process which resulted in the candidate not being hired. During their conversation, the candidate mentioned a project she was working on which was directly related to Bosky’s masters research. Upon sharing her interest, the candidate said she would follow up and share her project findings with her via email. That email never came through. For Bosky, this creates issues around trust and credibility. When that trust is broken, it is hard to mend it. Product managers have a lot of credibility at stake as they have to make everyone trust them and their judgment.
Successful PMs should also have a good product sense or spidey sense. Don’t solve the problem immediately; rather, take time to approach a problem, use critical thinking and structure the problem. For instance, break down the complex problem into smaller problems and go from there.
Finally, don’t be a jerk! As a product manager, you are gonna work with every single team and employee. You will have to say no and will have to continue working with people constantly. Being kind and understanding in these conversations and ensuring empathy in the workplace is going to be critical.
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