Institute of Product Leadership
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The Elements of Product Leadership - Amit Phadnis,
Sr. Vice President, Engineering, Cisco

About Amit:

Amit is the VP Engineering and India Site Leader for Cisco. He leads Cisco India's Innovation Initiatives, Engineering Strategy, overall Ecosystem and Talent development undertakings. Amit is responsible for the India Site charter, including strengthening the interlock between Cisco's engineering, customers, and sales teams while aligning the company's India site strategy with evolving customer and partner needs. Amit also heads Core Software Group (CSG) India. As a CSG head, Amit leads a team of 2300+ engineers to drive innovations, architectural alignment and integration with GTM (go-to-market) strategies. Amit is involved in driving the university relations strategy, employee engagement and talent development for the India site and in developing the Engineering Partner and Independent Software Vendor (ISV) partner ecosystem. Before joining Cisco, Amit was the Country Manager/CEO and Vice President of Engineering at Symbol-Motorola. In his role with Symbol, Amit was involved in building a strong product organization as a country manager. He contributed to technologies related to handheld computing, wireless and RFID. Amit has a Masters Degree in Electronics and Communication from the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore.

"There is a tremendous opportunity to innovate!”

What skills are important in this competitive environment?

As the country and society are getting digitized, there is more and more need for solutions that can be taken to market to solve specific problems either in the industry or in society that requires more business elements to be brought together and not just technology.
For example, it is necessary to understand what the go-to market strategies are, how to monetize the technology developed, what business models are, how the customer pays, who is the customer, who is paying for the product of the solutions and so on. There are a number of elements that come into play. After all, that is what product leadership is all about.

What has given rise to product leadership in India ?

A few years back, we had a lot of technologies but few product leaders. Where we are at this point of time is because there are lots of investments happening in startup companies and also a lot of companies investing in product related activities; there is a good amount of investment in developing the product leadership overall across the industry. We are still at the early stages of this journey, developing this entire leadership in the country compared to Silicon Valley and other markets where product leadership has been there for several decades.

What differentiates IPL's EMBA program offering?

The way they have structured this particular course is to bring together all the elements to product leadership, it is not just about technology or just go-to market or just monetization or just pricing strategies. I think they've tried to put together courses in such a way that the person gets a holistic view from product leader's standpoint and from that standpoint it is a very important course.

Our graduates are keen to make their mark in this digitized world. What awaits
them ?

It is a tremendous opportunity to innovate, create new solutions to solve specific problems and take them to the market to run successful business. There might be much more opportunities as the country gets digitized. It actually equalises the opportunity for people to be able to create solutions that can be delivered on a global scale. The next 4-10 years are going to be very interesting for a product leader. The next decade maybe even more full of opportunities. I feel many of the people graduating from IPL are going to be very successful business leaders in the upcoming years.

Key Take-aways:

- Bring together all the business elements to get a hold on the demands of the solutions to the problems of the industry and/or the society.
- It’s important to master the strategies and techniques of go-to market along with the growing technology to play well in this game!
- Many companies are investing in product leadership activities; but it is still early days in India as compared to the Silicon Valley.
- IPL'S EMBA program encapsulates all the elements necessary to be a successful product leader, right from strategies to usage of newer technologies.
- Digitization equals to more opportunities and the upcoming years will witness this growth.