This week, Product School hosted Aishwarya Sharma, Senior PM at Amazon, for an exclusive #AskMeAnything session. Aishwarya talked about the most important skill for aspiring PMs to develop, her favorite digital product, and breaking into product.
Aishwarya Sharma is an experienced professional adept at driving all aspects of product development, from setting strategy to formulating product roadmap, managing campaigns, and creating customer-facing collateral. She is currently a Senior Product Manager at Amazon.
Prior to her current role, she was a Senior Product Manager at Avant, Product Development Manager at Universal Electronics, Product Manager at Digital Peripheral Solutions, and many other positions in Product. Aishwarya has a reputation as a valued business partner with a keen global perspective, a sound grasp of the product, and a focus on building high-performing teams.
What’s one thing you recommend that aspiring PMs targeting tech learn today?
Great question! The one thing that I recommend is learning how to build frameworks for your product. Tech is evolving and so is the user need. So for us as PMs to define and build a product, it is necessary that we build the right set of frameworks that will help with the product decision making.
For example, one framework could be to improve a certain metric X (qualitative or quantitative). So any decision on prioritization, resourcing, or requirements should be around that. Another framework could be; improving app performance in terms of latency.
Which area should you focus the most on when you are a PM for a startup that is in its pre-launch phase?
Great question. My first job was in a startup. The one thing I recommend focusing on is finding the most important features.
It may sound simple, but if you think about it, as a startup your team is focused on building a product at an extremely fast pace. This means that you need to make the right decision on ‘what to build’ every single sprint. To do that, it is very important to pay attention to the feedback and market trends and finding that one important feature that you must prioritize over others. That skill will go a long way!
What is your favorite digital product?
I really love the app ‘mint’ from intuit. Helps me put all my finances in one place.
What’s your advice to a student looking to interview for an APM role with no previous PM experience?
I highly recommend the book Cracking the PM Interview. This book helped me get a perspective of PM roles in general. Product Management is a skill that you absorb a lot in a real-life work environment and this book has a good selection of topics, especially within the tech world.
How do I break into Product with zero experience?
Getting foundational knowledge is crucial. It is definitely a good idea to engage in some courses and certifications. Product School offers many of those.
Is it necessary to go to business school to work at Amazon? Or is prior product development experience enough?
For sure, I did not go to business school. A rich product work experience is a good starting point.
What do you in your day-to-day life as a PM at Amazon?
The biggest focus for me is my customer, so from defining requirements to conducting research, my day is split up. I interact with tech teams, UX teams, and research teams on a daily basis during the inception phase. Once the product development is in flight, my role is to drive clarity as and when needed by the cross-functional teams.
What is your recommendation for PMs who are interested in transitioning to Senior?
I think the biggest thing that I would recommend is to start thinking like a Product Owner. You as PM are owning the strategy and health of your product. A PM is essentially the CEO of the product. If you are able to make decisions as a CEO then you are automatically transitioning into one
Do entrepreneurs make good Product Managers in corporations like Amazon? Have you met anyone like this?
Well, you are a Product Owner and I feel that it is a great skill to work at Amazon. Ownership is one of the most important leadership principles for me.
If roadmap initiatives are top-down, would you classify that as Product Management still?
Yes, absolutely. A PM is the owner of their product’s roadmap.
Also relevant: Product Templates: Roadmaps
Any final advice?
A final word to all the PMs, Document writing is one of the very important skills for any PM. Keep mastering that 🙂