This week Product School hosted Umesh Majhi current Prooduct Manager at Google for an #AskMeAnything session. Umesh shared his experience working at Google, different skills Product Managers should master, advise for Aspiring Product Manager and more!
Meet Umesh Majhi
Umesh Majhi is a results-driven Product Leader with 10+ years of end-to-end Product Management experience. He is currently a Product Manager at Google. Previously, Umesh was a Senior PM at Indeed, where he owned the vision, strategy, roadmap and execution of HRTech suite and Marketing and CS automation products.
Life at Google
How does working as a Product Manager at Google differ from working at other companies?
Product Management is a field that differs vastly from company to company. For an established company like Google, there are some stringent processes you need to follow and you have lots of people to turn to for making the right decisions. You also have access to a huge number of resources to do your job. In other companies, especially the smaller ones, you need to think differently. You may not have set processes, you may not have access to the right resources, you may not have lots of people to help you but what you would have is increased freedom to do what you feel right.
Another notable difference is the impact. I am fascinated by the amount of impact I can create with the same amount of work I used to do in other companies.
What would your strategy be as a young Product Manager wanting to break into Google?
For younger PMs, preparation is the key. In the given hypothetical situation, I would understand what Google looks for in PMs and prepare for them. I would look at various online materials available and try to connect with current PMs to understand as much as I can.
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What does the tech round look like at Google during Product Manager interviews?
Mostly the tech round focuses on the candidate’s understanding of how tech systems work. The most common question there is “How does <insert product name here> work”. You are evaluated on your understanding of complex tech products and how different tech systems work together.
Based on the various PMs I have hired in my past roles, a PM should understand the tech systems well enough to do value additions in the tech conversations and enable the tech team to make the right decision (by balancing the product needs of course). Personally, it also helps me fine-tune my strategy and product road-map
Skills to Master
What is the best way to keep up with evolving technologies?
In my opinion, trying to keep track of all of them is a futile activity. There’s so much information on the internet and in people’s minds. The strategy I follow is trying to be clear on what I want to learn and what direction I want my knowledge base to go. Once that is clear, subscribing to the right content is the key.
For evolving technology, I try to do secondary research on the topic I want to learn – the latest one being electric car batteries!
How can I create an excellent Product requirement document without great writing skills?
Are you my younger self?
Trust me there are many in a similar boat. I don’t think I am very good at writing. In my experience, the key is to utilize your strong skills and do what needs to be done. For example, the goal for you is to ensure you communicate well and make sure everyone is on the same page instead of having a well-written document with some catchy words and phrases.
Pro tip: Make sure you continuously improve on mastering the skills which you think is necessary to give your best in your current role.
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Is there any specific framework you use for prioritization?
There are tons of frameworks out there. More often than not the effort vs Impact framework has been good enough. Ultimately the goal is to figure out the most logical sequence!
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At what stage of the product is it better to focus on quantitative data?
Great question. It depends on a lot of factors. The key here is to balance all the unknowns and known variables. Qualitative data is really useful when you are building a product from scratch. I usually start looking at the data from the moment the MVP is launched.
I feel knowing when and how much data is a skill that one needs to master with experience. It can depend on the product type, target segment, company, engineering strength, etc
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Starting your Product Manager career
What is the best way to move from Technology Consulting to Product Management?
The switch is possible, even in the current, challenging scenario. The key is to understand what you are good at and what you need to improve to get to what you want. In your specific case, try figuring out the skills which differentiate a good PM from a good tech consultant. Once you start honing those skills, you just need to find a role that is a good fit for your profile.
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What are the key differences in terms of expectations from an Aspiring Product Manager vs a Product Manager?
It depends on company to company. Usually, the variable is the scope of work, the amount of responsibility carried by the Product Manager, and the coordination needs.
An Aspiring Product Manager here usually drives a well carved out feature with clear goals and little to no cross-team collaboration. For a Product Manager, all these variables are on the other side
Do you have any final advice for aspiring Product Managers?
I would recommend focusing on learning the right thing based on the direction you want to take your career towards. To do that continuously assess your current skills and figure out what you need to improve; then channel your time towards that. A Product Manager can easily get overwhelmed with a lot of things, so learning usually takes a backseat. If I were to go back in time, I would probably allocate more time there.
You might also be interested in: Product School Certificates
Join us next week for another #AskMeAnything Session for more insights from Product Managers!