How To Break Into Product Management - Know All About It From Mini Thangaswamy

Mini Thangaswamy, Senior Product Manager at Braintree, speaks about becoming a Product Manager and how a career in Product Management can be successful and fun. The career path, role of a Product Manager, strategies to adopt and the best resume for getting a job in Product Management – are all explained by her. As a Product Manager herself, she draws upon personal experiences to guide aspirants in the best possible way.

Mini Thangaswamy Senior Product Manager

Brief Introduction About the Speaker

As Senior Product Manager at Braintree, Mini Thangaswamy, has 10 years of experience as a PM. Being a detail-oriented person she was drawn to engineering and graduated from University of North Carolina. Thereafter, she worked in Wells Fargo for 8 years, honing her knowledge and skills in the various departments therein.

Thereafter, she realized that her interest lay in building products. She then got a job in Braintree as a Product Manager. She is part of the card processing team and enables seamless payment experiences for merchants. She has been there for almost 10 years and enjoys the impact of her products and the level of responsibility she is entrusted with.


Product Manager Role

  • Accountability and responsibility of every aspect of the product
  • Deciding features to be built
  • Study need and decide why a product should be built
  • When to release the product in the market
  • Understand market dynamics
  • Know what competitors are doing
  • Study and understand customer needs and customer persona
  • Have a clear vision of the product and capacity to sell that vision
  • Deliver the actual product
  • Have a marketing plan to sell the end product to the consumer


Typical Day of a Product Manager

Product Manager’s typical day is always interesting. It entails interaction with different people and teams in the organization. Product related brainstorming and troubleshooting is an integral part of a regular workday. A typical day consists of

  • Team Meetings to share updates on a daily basis
  • Nurturing work relationships with stakeholders, partners, etc. This helps the entire body working on a product to be in sync, share relevant updates, strategize and prioritize tactical issues
  • Interacting with Tech Counterparts and Customers
  • Strategic Planning and Problem Solving
  • Writing of Reports. The steps and procedure adopted to execute work, problems faced, measures adopted to overcome the same – are all documented and circulated to update every person associated with work.


Fun Aspect of Product Manager Role

  • Variety – Multiple initiatives go on at any point of time. The work is never repetitive and there is a constant learning involved
  • Exposure to multiple job roles
  • Seeing your product go live in the market is a big high
  • Interacting and working with experienced, expert and smart colleagues


Pre-requisites for Product Manager Role

  1. Desire to learn new things and new concepts.
  2. Interest in technology and thirst to learn new technology and update yourself on the latest technological developments.
  3. Be empathetic. Think about problems and solutions from the customer perspective.
  4. Be empathetic to the people who support you to deliver the product. Respect and work in tandem with your operations team, sales team, accounts team and other product teams working with you. These are your internal stakeholders.


Product Manager Career Path

There are no clearly defined parameters to begin on a Product Manager career path. An engineer with technological knowledge can transition to becoming the Product Manager.

Management graduates are also hired into associate product management programs by companies like Google and Facebook.

Candidates with an arts and design background also make excellent Product Managers. A designer has empathetic attitude to customer expectations and can deliver refined solutions to address these problems.

Some companies have a Principal Product Manager Path, where the Product Manager is a high-performing individual and an expert in product management. He elevates the organization's product management practice.

Other companies have a Group Product Manager Path. Here the Product Manager manages other product managers. Their product is the team and this team delivers product solutions.


Best Job Search Strategy for Product Manager Position

  1. Use your network: Use all your contacts, direct and indirect. Platforms like LinkedIn are ideal for building your network. Reach out to people and ask for referrals. Do not hesitate even if you have not been in touch with them. The worst thing that could happen when you reach out to someone is that they could say no. However, this rarely happens and most people are happy and feel privileged to help.
  2. Assess and understand what you want: Clearly define what you want. Define the industry, the company, the products built by the company, etc. Make a list and then begin to target these companies. Let your desires, goals, aptitude and aspirations guide you while preparing the list.
  3. Adopt Product Manager practices in your present job: When you go for a Product Manager job interview, you can outline and highlight the proactive product management initiatives you have been applying to your old job. This will positively impact the mind of the interviewer and show your passion towards the product management career.


3 Tips for a Great Product Manager Resume

Boring statements and a long summary of your qualifications and skills should be avoided. Include:

  1. The impact you have created in your job. Showcase how you understood requirements and made an impact in your role in the company. Provide hard metrics. Do not make empty statements.
  2. Customize your resume. Alter the write up based on the comp-any you are applying for. Highlight those skills that are suitable to that particular company. Recruiters use keyword searches. Make sure that your resume matches the job.
  3. Be succinct. Revise your resume multiple times and keep it crisp. Highlight only your latest achievements and experiences.


3 Tips for Aspiring Product Managers

  1. Know your core values and strengths. Observe yourself and think about whether you enjoy technology, fintech, coding, app development, etc. Keep reflecting about your strengths and likes.
  2. Be comfortable with detail. Have a thorough knowledge of how things work and design workable solutions to suit them.
  3. Know your customers really well. Do market research, use qualitative and quantitative ways like data and tracking metrics to analyse, study and gauge customer actions. Know your customer profile.

A career in Product Management can be easily achieved if armed with the right knowledge and approach.