This week Product School hosted Namrata Rao, Senior Product Manager at JLL Technology, for an #AskMeAnything session. Namrata answered questions on everything from in-demand skills set, PM misconceptions, daily challenges, applying customer research, and standing out as a candidate!
Namrata Rao is a Product Manager with 12+ overall years of experience. She is currently the Senior Product Manager at JLL Technology, where she is responsible for driving the product direction to bring scalable technological innovation to Commercial Real Estate (CRE). Her professional journey across India, UK, Singapore & the US has led her to progressively be an active part of evolving technological advancements across different continents and sectors, with a keen interest to understand and address customer pain points.
“What skillsets in the Product domain do you think are most in-demand right now?”
In my opinion, the basics are always critical no matter the times we are in. Certain skillsets gets elevated more than others depending on your organization, product stage and external conditions. For instance, as a Product Manager, it is key to have Technical knowledge, UI/UX aptitude, Communication skills, Analytical mind and Business bent.
In the current times, Communication & Business bent has been elevated to ensure that we can understand what’s happening externally in the market with our customers in their sector to comprehend their needs & communicate that effectively with the internal team to translate requirements such that we can build the right product at the right time.
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“As a PM looking to focus on “Doing proper customer research to ID customer problems” in Q1, what would you offer as resources/plan of action?”
I would advocate for two critical paths in this process:
1. Answer the question – “What is my market?”
2. Identify the discovery channels & execute
For No.1, it is important to understand which industry you belong to. For example in my case with JLL-T – It is a Commercial real estate (CRE) services company at its core that aims to build software for solving customer problems. Knowing this now, if I say we are in a software market then, I am misplacing my customer base entirely that belongs to the CRE domain.No. 2 involves being aware of all the resources you have to hear the voice of your customer. In one of my past experiences, I have employed different major channels –
- I started with internal SMEs to learn about the market & customer pain points. This helped me to draw insights & draft a product concept with my team.
- To validate the concept, we then moved to a 1:1 customer interview. We presented our product concept to hear direct feedback from the ‘horse’s mouth’.
- But in order to gain deeper level insight, we employed external agencies to help us scale the research. This involved reaching out to prospective customers with surveys and having expert consultants look into identifying a clear target market segment, top user needs & expectations.
The key is to collaborate both internally & externally with all available resources to get the maximum output from your customer research.
Check out: Product Management Skills: User Research
“What are the challenges you face in your daily job role and how do you storm through them?”
One of the primary challenges yet a critical aspect of Product Management is ensuring that the team is clear on our goal post and feel empowered to execute towards the set direction. In the current distributed virtual environment, alignment has become a challenge. I have been storming through this with one single principle – Over-communication with clear context. This has immensely helped us ask the right questions, commit & agree on the decisions and direction.
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“What do you think is the biggest misconception new PM roles might have?”
The biggest misconception a new PM may have is that there is a standardized template that can be followed across all companies/products. The basics are certainly the same but a critical aspect is – knowing your team/stakeholders, listening in on current situation/practices, and then molding the process/interactions accordingly. This will setup the product & team to be successful holistically.
How did you get the position at Cruise and your current position? What do you think helped you stand out from other candidates?
As you are aware, there are many factors that go into an interview decision-making process. IMO, the reason I got a position at Cruise and In JLL-T were:
- I was in at the right time at the right place. My skillsets fit in with what the company was looking for and vice-versa (very important).
- During the interview process, I constantly kept a check on myself to stay authentic & go in with the required preparation
Check out: Stand Out As a PM by Using Data
What is the one thing a product manager should never do? And one thing a product manager should always do?
One thing a product manager should always do: Overall prioritization with a clear Why? (eg. The areas PM should be working on & the areas that the team should be working on)
One thing a product manager should never do: Agree to something without asking questions 🙂 It is imperative for a PM should ask questions to get to the bottom of a proposal, request, or anything for that matter since we bear the responsibility of speaking up for the invisible yet most important person in the room – The customer.
“What’s one final piece of advice you’d give for aspiring Product Managers?”
The final advice that I would leave for aspiring Product Managers is – ‘Keep learning & applying’ and ‘Never give up’. There is a lot to learn but the most important part is execution. Find ways to put the theory to practice as that is true development. You are the only person who can believe & keep pushing on your desire to be a Product Manager. So keep at it, no matter what. Good Luck!
Join us next week for another #AskMeAnything Session for more insights from Product Managers around the world!