Updated: May 18, 2021
"My learning from being a Mentor at PMDojo is that it is a two-way street and it is so important to keep an open mind. As much as you are sharing your knowledge, you are also learning/ receiving at the same time. No two people’s paths are the same, so as a Mentor you have to be flexible to your mentees' path and align yourself to what the mentee wants to do."
Priyanka joined PMDojo as a mentor in 2020 and is continuing her journey with us. Priyanka shares with us how her involvement with PMDojo has given her a platform to grow as a mentor and make an impact.
If you are in tech and feel like you want to grow in your career, Priyanka's personal story will inspire you both for early-stage or New Product Managers but also experienced in tech and Product Management. We hope that as you read this, you might find ideas to reflect and think so that you can accelerate your career forward.
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So Priyanka, tell us about your journey into Product Management?
My journey into Product Management was unconventional and unplanned. I worked as an Electrical Engineer and did my Masters in Innovation Management. Project Management was one of the courses in my program and hence I started out as a Project Manager in a small Consumer Electronics company. One of the advantages of working for a small company where the Product Line was growing was that, even though a lot of my responsibilities were that of a Project Manager, I got the opportunity to wear many hats at the same time. On top of managing my projects, I also got a chance to talk to customers, participate in roadmap planning, write requirements, work with the Engineers, and participate in beta testing.
After 2-3 years, there was an opening for a Product Manager in the same company, and I am thankful to my boss for encouraging me to apply for that role. There were no frameworks that I followed, just learning and honing in on my soft skills. Now after all these years, I have realized that Product Management is a broad term that people use; different companies have different ideas about the roles and responsibilities of a Product Manager.
How did you get involved with PMDojo?
I reached out to Bosky when I saw one of her posts on social media sharing her vision of PMDojo. When I learned more, I found the whole idea of an accelerator program was awesome and relevant My actual experience of being a mentor in cohort#1 was way beyond what I expected. It was gratifying and I signed up to be a mentor in cohort#2 as well.
Priyanka, how would you describe your experience with PMDojo so far?
The not-so-great thing about being an experienced PM is that you start to get comfortable with where you are at. With the aspiring Product Managers in the Product Accelerator, I get to see the fresh mindset and ideas that they bring with them. There is always something new that you can learn from these upcoming Product Managers. Being a Mentor, it is fulfilling to see the cohort grow and expand.
More often than not, mentorship is described as “giving” but I have received so much here. Bosky is so friendly and open. She is a seasoned professional, very well connected with people, but above all, she is very genuine. To have that person in your network is one of the biggest benefits that you get from joining PMDojo as a Mentor.
I have grown both professionally and personally mentoring with PMDojo. People see me connected with PMDojo & Bosky and reach out to me. It felt really good when my ex-boss noticed that I was mentoring and giving back to the community and texted me about this. Personally being a part of PMDojo, I have been able to network with so many smart and talented people whom I would not have been able to do on my own.
There are several pieces that I enjoy about PMDojo:
First, I really enjoy seeing the cohort members go from the “Problem” to the “Solution space”. All the workshops in the program are very well thought out and the program has an amazing selection of Mentors. I am so thankful that I get to be a part of this.
Secondly, the community - I am part of several Slack channels but this is one community that is really close-knit. There are so many great people here who are giving and help each other out. PMDojo is a great place to mentor because the community is filled with amazing people.
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Priyanka, what skills do you look for when you hire an early-stage PM?
In interviews, I look at soft skills, cultural fit within the company and the “how”. How are they going to go about solving this problem or implementing a feature? How good are they at collaborating with cross-functional teams and stakeholders? How flexible are they? How do they deal with success and failure? Can they bounce back from a failure? How open are they to other ideas? How passionate are they? In order to be able to convince a stakeholder to buy into your idea - you really need to be passionate about it.
What would say to anyone who is from a non-technical or non-traditional background and is looking to get into Product?
I cannot code. I am a Product Manager on the Hardware side. It is not about learning how to code, it is about understanding the language and being able to communicate with Engineers and keep up with them. Most importantly, your ability to show in the interview that you can learn fast and you have done some research to learn the Product and the context.
Thank you, Priyanka for sharing your journey and everything that you continue to do with PMDojo. Your valuable and insightful questions are so much appreciated by the cohort. Learning from you has been one of the best experiences that our cohort members unanimously share about our Product Accelerator.
If you are someone who aspires to grow confidently into Product Management and learn from amazing mentors like Priyanka herself, join us at PMDojo. Apply for the next cohort, deadline for scholarships and applications closing soon!
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