“A Day in the Life of a Product Manager” – Seminar Summary

The morning of 23rd July saw the lobby of the Hotel Novotel Techpark buzzing with activity. With serendipitous Bengaluru weather, and low traffic on a breezy Saturday morning, it was a brilliant start to the day.

With over 300+ participants, we had a really busy time processing all the registrations, and handing out the personalized career assessment reports.
There was much enthusiasm, and it was obvious that people were really looking forward to the proceedings of the day. The huge number of participants indicates an increased interest in Product Management and Product Leadership across industries, and we even had several walk-in participants.

The main theme of the day was Product Leadership, and all the presentations were centred on this. One of the main objectives of the seminar was to give attendees a feel of what Product Leadership is all about, and how it could make a difference in any career, whether a Program Manager, Architect, Business Analyst, or Product Manager.

Senior IPL faculty and industry experts hosted the sessions. The attendees were encouraged to network with peers and presenters during the coffee breaks, lunch and Q & A. All the sessions were extremely interactive. Attendees were seen networking through the coffee breaks, and lunch, and many stayed back at the end of the day to catch up with peers and IPL faculty.

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Keynote Session

The seminar began with Dr Marya Wani, Director of Curriculum and Research,IPL, welcoming the attendees. Prof. Pinkesh Shah, Co-founder of IPL, hosted the Keynote Session. Prof Shah is an industry veteran with over 15+ years in the Product Industry in the Silicon Valley. Prior to founding IPL, Prof Shah was Global VP Products at McAfee.

Deep dive into career progression

Having introduced IPL, Prof Shah explained the concept of career anchors. While career is an occupational experience, career anchors are a self-evolving concept of what you are good at, your motives and the values that govern your work-choices. Career anchors usually determine how successful you would be in a role, and which career path would be best for you.

Attendees were encouraged to look at their Personalized Career Assessment reports and see their scores, to understand how they could take career decisions, based on their career anchors. Prof Shah also went on to explain how careers are cocktails of career anchors.

Secrets of Extraordinary Product Managers

Prof Naveen Lakkur, Innovation Coach, Strategic Consultant & Advisor, and Senior Faculty at IPL, explained how one could progress from being just “ordinary” to “extraordinary”, and what it means to be empowered with the “X” factor. Filled with interesting examples, the session was all about how one can become an extraordinary person in the eyes of others, and how the “X” factor can impact your career.

Practical Design Thinking for Product Managers

An extremely hands-on session, this was hosted by Prof Mukesh Gupta, Director - Customer Advocacy at SAP India and Senior IPL Faculty. Prof Gupta explained the concept of Design Thinking in Product Management- how it influences the Product across the lifecycle, and how Product Design is actually an iterative process. Prof Gupta talked about how connecting directly with the customer can make all the difference to the final product, and that you must design a product for a user, not an industry. The examples used were simple but powerful – making it easy for even laypersons to understand what Product Design Thinking was all about.

Delivering the Impossible: Effective Negotiation Skills that get results

Dr. Andrew Bean, Professor at University of Northampton Business School, Australia and Senior Faculty at IPL, flew down all the way from Australia to host the session. Dr Bean brought out how negotiation is important irrespective of your role, and how it can make a difference in both your personal and professional life. He advocates that you always find a way to say, “Yes” – on your terms, rather than a lazy “No”.

Panel Discussion: The Type of People Product Industry is Looking For in Product Leadership Roles

Dr. Bean’s session was followed by a panel discussion on the ‘The type of people that the Product Industry is looking for in Product Leadership Roles’. Moderated by Dr. Arun Saxena, the panelists were eminent people from the Product Industry – Mr. Amit Phadnis, President – Engineering, Cisco, Mr. Ram Narayan, GM, Products, eBay, Prof Tathagat Varma, Knowledgepreneur ThoughtLeadership.in and Senior IPL Faculty, and Mr. Gaurav Chindlur, Co-Founder & COO, Vizury.

The panelists are extremely passionate about Product Management and Product Leadership, and this came through in the discussion. Peppered with several humorous and interesting examples from personal experience, the panel discussion was extremely insightful and offered some great takeaways.

Takeaways from Panel Discussion

● Product Leadership is not a functional competence but extends across all roles; Whether a Program Manager, Technical Architect, Product Manager or Engineering Manager, everyone benefits with Product Leadership skills.
● Having a customer context is one of the most important aspects of Product Leadership, as are ownership and accountability.
● You may view a Product Leader along the letter “T” with functional competence on the vertical line and and other skill sets such as communication, negotiation, leadership etc. on the horizontal line.
● If you are an Engineer, it helps if you can do all roles required in Engineering – whether it be client-facing or backedn. This will give perspective, and help understand the pitfalls and painpoints. Flexibility is key to Product Leadership.
● The same parameters that apply to Product Industry also apply to services and solutions.
●Product Management, Product Ownership and Product Leadership are distinct. Product Management is a functional competence. While a Product Owner can master just product execution, a Product Leader requires a multitude of skills.

Awards

The Panel Discussion was followed by an Awards Ceremony, hosted by Dr. Wani.
The Cisco Scholarship Award
The Cisco Scholarship Award at IPL is awarded to the student who has displayed academic rigor, tenacity, focus and leadership. The Cisco Scholarship Award for the ‘EMBA Class of 2015 – A Batch’ was awarded to Anitha Chadran, Accenture.
The award, apart from being a matter of great prestige, also carries with it a cheque of USD 6000.

Best Tweet Award

The Twitter Wall #ProdLeader was on fire right through the progress of the seminar, and the ‘Best Tweet’ was awarded to Lisha Prakash who tweeted “To buy Inseparable Twins is ordinary, to win a signed copy is extraordinary.” She won a signed copy of Prof Lakkur’s bestselling book “Inseparable Twins”.Awards were also given for ‘Best Question of the Day’ to Sridharan and ‘Most Passionate Participant’ to Anish.

Key Take-aways from the Seminar

● Career anchors determine which career path would be best for you. Choose wisely. A career is typically a cocktail of career anchors.
● Go from Ordindary to Extraordinary - Empower yourself with the “X” factor
● Design Thinking can influence all aspects of the Product Lifecycle. Design a product for a specific user. Connect with the customer. Product Design is an iterative process.
● A Product Leader should have effective Negotiation Skills – learn to say “Yes” on your own terms, rather than just a lazy “No”.
● Product Leadership is not a functional competence but extends across all roles. Having a customer context, ownership and accountability are key skills required to become an effective Product Leader.

And, All good things must come to an end

The day ended with an announcement for a new program at IPL – MBA in Technology Management (TMBA), for early career professionals. Dr. Wani also announced the YourStory Scholarship for TMBA, in recognition of outstanding display of intrapreneurial drive or entrepreneurial spirit for self-funded students. It carries a grant of INR 2,00,000 towards tuition and fees and recognition as a YourStory | IPL scholar New programs, scholarships and new Product Leaders – these truly embody the spirit of the IPL team, who live by the motto ‘There’s always “one more thing” to learn.’ (Steve Jobs)

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