This week Product School hosted Hardik Agrawal, a Product Manager at Wish for an #AskMeAnything session. Hardik answered questions on everything from product culture, transitioning from Engineering, and he shared the Product Management process and key PM skills to being a great PM!
Hardik is a Product Manager at Wish. Prior to his current role, he was a Product Manager at eBay where he grew eBay’s Credit business from $900M to $2.1B/year in 24 months by providing users in the US and UK markets the ability to finance their purchases through various credit offers including monthly installment plans. Hardik also received eBay’s Critical Talent Award in 2018, the highest award for an individual contributor, generally awarded to the top 1% of contributors. Before that, he was a Marketing Strategy Consultant at MeWe Network. In addition, Hardik earned a B.S in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering from the Univerity of California, Berkeley.
” Coming from an Engineering background, how was your journey to product like?”
Yes, I studied Computer Science at Berkeley. I founded my own startup with a friend in college after my freshman year. During this process, I realized I liked thinking about complex user problems and strategic solutions to these problems. So Junior year of college, I focused on getting a PM internship and landed one at eBay. A year later, I returned as a full-time PM at eBay.
You might be interested in: Everything You Need to Know about APM Programs
“Are there any new techniques / API/ provider that can help you scale installment-based purchasing (e.g. Affirm) with the risk of default/fraud?”
There’s no good answer to this question. There are hundreds of providers that all offer different plans and advantages based on your key user profile. Affirm is one, AfterPay is another that’s particularly popular in Australia. Klarna is another that’s big in Europe and Latin America. PayPal Credit is another good one.
“What do you think the most important skills are to be a good PM?”
The key PM skills are:
- Product Execution
- Product Sense
Within these two, there are several things you need to think about that would be hard to summarize completely but here’s a good list:
- Being good at creating MVPs.
- Being good at analytical thinking for opportunity sizing, formulating hypotheses, evaluating hypotheses, deciding whether to explore vs iterate vs move on to a different workstream.
- Stakeholder empathy and avoid escalations.
- Building strong relationships.
- Understanding user problems and scalability before jumping to monetization.
Here’s a well-received talk I recently gave on the skills needed to become a top-performing 1% PM
“How do you summarize a good Product Management process? What kind of topics do you think should be checked before you reach product-market fit?“
A typical PM’s process is:
- Opportunity evaluation: Is the opportunity big enough? What are some opportunities I’m trading off to pursue this?
- MVP creation: What’s the quickest way I can test out my opportunity? Is there a hacky way I can get it out next week rather than waiting for several months?
- Mobilize teams/stakeholder buy-in: Much easier at a small company and I would definitely recommend joining startups as a culture will be a lot more bottoms-up rather than top-down
- Success metrics: Make sure you know beforehand how you will evaluate success and that you have the monitoring to do so
Different products will require different processes but the above is quite “typical”.
“What advice would you give to a new Entry Level Product Manager?”
Some key pieces of advice would be:
- Build very strong relationships
- Focus your passion towards learning from impactful peers rather than enforcing your opinions
- Become great at product execution (feel free to reference the youtube link I shared previously)
- Develop the ability to think about users followed by scalability followed by monetization; don’t jump to monetization
- Dont focus only on UI; a very common mistake by entry-level PMs is to focus heavily on UI and not think conceptually
- Become comfortable getting into the weeds of data
“How do you think the relationship between PM and UX should be structured? Close equal partnership? Director/contributor? How do you balance your different expert inputs so you can make the best product decisions?”
Its very important to cultivate a strong PM <> UX relationship for any PM. Its often healthy to debate and decisions should almost always be made through a consensus. Unless you think the UX will materially change how your product will be viewed by your users, I always defer the final decision to the designer after providing feedback. One clever way to reach a common ground when designing an A/B test is to create multiple except arms – one which has the designer’s preference and one that has yours. So now you’re able to incorporate both and test them out much more objectively. Your test data will tell you which is better or if that matters at all!
“What technical skills are needed in SAAS based products?”
Quite honestly, I dont have much experience in SAAS. Any as-a-service product is a bit more qualitative feedback-driven than usual if the SAAS product is especially a B2B product. This is because the profile of the client can really make or break your business, unlike B2C which has a lot more room for experimentation. For other skills, refer to a similar question here.
“How much of your role involves being a scrum master and checking on the progress that the developers are making?”
At Wish, not so much. At eBay in the Payments team, each PM is also a scrum master. You always need to check up on eng progress with some sort of process – could be as simple as a slack dm. Wrt scrum and agile process – these are more scalability and tracking tools when its harder to track things or scale things. Usually happens when you’re company grows into a decent size.
“How do you prioritize your daily, weekly, monthly, and address those times when you are putting in a 110% but just not managing?”
Great question and a very tough one to answer imo. The key is to prioritize prioritize prioritize. Not just things you’re doing but also any conflicts. For example, do you really want to spend so much time thinking about the size or shape or color of a button? Pick your battles to which ones are most impactful. Similarly, delegate! Don’t take everything on. If you need to find a cross functional eng for your dept eng to connect with, maybe ask if the dept eng can help you with that first.
Check out: Common Product Prioritization Mistakes
“Do you have any final advice for aspiring Product Managers?”
My final piece of advice is this – a lot of people like to get into Product Management because it feels sexy and it’s definitely a trend that has caught on. I want to share that shouldn’t be a good reason to break into PM. PMs are often expected to go above and beyond, and work longer hours and solve complex problems. So you’ll do the best work and get rewarded only if you’re passionate about it!
If you’re curious about how to develop the skills of a PM and what a high performing does on a daily basis, feel free to refer to the Youtube link shared above. Thanks again for having me!
Join us next week for another #AskMeAnything Session for more insights from Product Managers around the world!