Fearless Product Prioritization with Lead PM at Expedia Group

This week Product School hosted Preeti Pandey, a Lead Product Manager at Expedia Group, for an #AskMeAnything session. Preeti talked about the key skills for a PM, shared her key insights to roadmaps, prioritization, and stakeholder communication.

Meet Preeti

Preeti is a Lead Product Manager at Expedia Group. She is skilled in product development, strategy, market research, and consulting. Prior to her current role, she was a Senior Product Manager at American Airlines, where she launched a new fare product by coordinating cross-functionally with various business, technology, operational teams, and JB partners. Additionally, she is a strong business development professional with an MBA from the University of Michigan and a BA in Computer Science.

How do you see the travel industry recovering from the events of 2020? How did your product team get through the chaos of last year (and this year so far!)?

It’s been a tough year for travel but also one where companies in the industry can take bold moves to be all the more relevant when travel picks up. For Expedia, it’s been a focus on planning for travel when it opens.

“Can you talk about how MBA has helped you in product management? skills that prove to be useful.”

I wouldn’t say that my MBA has helped me directly in being a Product Manager. However, MBA has definitely helped me have a better understanding of business at large and using the business acumen to make better product decisions.

Here’s a look into The Future of Product Management: Highlights

“What are the challenges of creating a roadmap and your opinion on creating one please? What should we look out for so we don’t set unrealistic expectations?”

My key to creating a realistic roadmap is:

  • Building roadmap items that are impactful and align with the product strategy.
  • Having realistic estimates for Tech and Business sizing.
  • Fearlessly prioritizing.

“How do you fearlessly prioritize?”

My definition of fearless prioritization is thinking through all aspects of each individual roadmap item and know if there was o ne thing you could work on what would it be and why (knowing it for yourself and being able to communicate it to all stakeholders). And then the next and so on. I believe in not getting caught up in doing too much but keeping the focus – not shying away from saying no to things.

Check out: 3 Prioritization Techniques All Product Managers Should Know

“Do you have any advice on how to keep all stakeholders informed on product decisions even if the decisions or ideas aren’t fully formed yet?”

Collaborating and building alignment is what I enjoy the most as a PM. It is important to keep stakeholders appraised of the decision making process as much as it is about sharing the decision itself. Also something to keep in mind is that you want stakeholders to be providing their inputs to decision making so it is a collaborative approach. Figure out the right forum/ format for engagement 1X1, working group etc. and have periodic touchpoints to keep everyone in the loop.

You might be interested in Product Management Skills: Stakeholder Management

“What are ways to handle changing priorities from different stakeholders?”

 I find it helpful to have some sort of a rubric to evaluate ideas and their merit – comes in handy when there are changing priorities. If you find yourself re-prioritizing way too frequently, then it might be a process deficiency. I have usually seen teams plan the roadmap for a quarter and only re-prioritize when there is a significant change (dependencies/ competitive changes etc.).

“How you and your team are identifying competitive opportunities in a highly competitive and mature product space such as online travel? How has the pandemic shifted the landscape for travel offerings?”

We have a team that is dedicated to conducting a competitive study – features and test-launched by competition/ major shifts in strategy. I think what also helps in Expedia is the fact that we have many sister brands to learn from/ share learnings with – in addition to the competition.
The shifting landscape of travel includes more road trips, weekend getaways, vacation rentals. Hopefully, we will see full recovery once vaccines are widely available. Looking forward to travel picking up again!

“What’s the most valuable skill that you see yourself using in your daily work as a PM?”

Definitely, communication and collaboration are the skills that top my list for everyday tasks. Be it communicating with the Tech team on the requirements or a stakeholder on the progress – this is one skill that goes a long way as a PM.

Check out: The Skills Product Managers Need in 2021

“Any final advice for aspiring Product Managers?”

My final advice would be to keep developing and refining your skills until you get there. It’s the best job in the world and there is much to learn even when you become a PM. Good luck!

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