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How To Break Into Product Management - Mini Thangaswamy

Mini Thangaswamy, a senior product manager at Braintree, speaks about her career path to becoming a PM and how to craft the best resume for the role. She draws upon past personal and professional experiences to guide aspirants land their dream jobs in product management.

Product Management 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. As a detail-oriented person, she obtained a degree in engineering and graduated from University of North Carolina. Thereafter, Thangaswamy worked in Wells Fargo for 8 years, honing her knowledge and skills in various departments.

Over the years, she realized that her interest lay in building products and got a job in Braintree as a Product Manager of the card processing team which enables seamless payment experiences for merchants. Thangaswamy has been there for almost 10 years and enjoys the impact of her products and the level of responsibility that comes with it.


What's Expected of PMs? 

  • 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


A Typical Day of a Product Manager

A product manager's typical day is always interesting. It entails interactions with different various teams, product brainstorming, and much more: 

  • Managing 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
  • Planning product roadmaps and problem solving
  • Writing reports - the steps and procedure adopted to execute work, problems anticipated in the timeline, measurements taken to overcome problems – are all documented and circulated to update every person associated with work.


Fun Aspects of the 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 accomplishment
  • Interacting and working with experienced and creative colleagues


Pre-requisites for the Product Manager Role

  1. Desire to learn new things and new concepts
  2. Interest in technology and thirst to learn on the latest developments in the market
  3. Be empathetic - think about problems and solutions from the customer perspective.  In addition, respect and work in tandem with your operations team, sales team, accounts team and other product teams to build the product as they are your internal stakeholders


Product Manager Career Path

There are no clearly defined parameters to begin a Product Manager career path. An engineer with technological knowledge can transition to becoming a Product Manager if he/she is able to apply relevant experience to the job. 

Management graduates are also hired into associate product management programs by companies such as Google and Facebook.  Other candidates with an arts and design background make excellent Product Managers as well as their fields center around customer expectations and deliver creative solutions to customer needs and desires. 

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 programs like the Group Product Manager Path, in which Product Managers manages other product managers, and their products are the teams that deliver product solutions.


Best Job Search Strategy for a 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, and the products built by the company to name a few. Make a list to target these areas, and allow your desires, goals, aptitude and aspirations to guide you!
  3. Adopt product management practices in your present job: When you go for a product manager job interview, you can outline and highlight relevant PM initiatives you have been applying to your current/past job. This will make a positive impression to the interviewer on your passion towards product management and your experience in the field. 


3 Tips for a Great Product Manager Resume

Try to avoid boring statements and a long summary of your qualifications. Instead, try to 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 to be succinct and to the point. Highlight only your latest achievements and experiences that are relevant to the job posting. Recruiters only take a few seconds to review a resume, so match your resume with key words on the job post!


3 Tips for Aspiring Product Managers

  1. Know your core values and strengths Observe yourself and and see if you enjoy fields such as technology, fintech, coding, app development, etc. Keep reflecting about your strengths and interests as it will help you in the long run and stand out from the applicant pool!
  2. Be attentive to 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 metrics to analyse, study and gauge customer actions. Know your customer profile.

A career in Product Management can be achieved by acquiring relevant experience and building problem-solving skills to successfully manage products!

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