Institute of Product Leadership
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The Product Management Careers with
Saran Chatterjee, CEO, Housejoy

About Saran:

Saran Chatterjee is the CEO of Housejoy. Prior to this, he worked with Flipkart as VP of Product Management and was a key part of the leadership team for close to three years. He played a key role in scaling up Flipkart by shaping the company strategy, setting up and hiring the product management, design and operations org, heading the consumer experience and platforms teams and running P&L for the advertising business. Saran was earlier with Yahoo! for about six years in various roles, including Senior Director for Global Product Management, Business Management and Operations Director.

“It is a full 360 degree view of what you are trying to build”

What does it mean to be a Product Manager?

It is not just about taking certain features and building it, but a full 360 degree view of what you are trying to build starting with who; and why are you building it - being able to answer that and have a clarity. Also, understanding the implications what one is building and taking that to market, scaling that product and making it successful. It is as if you are running a company because it’s all about taking a 360 degree view including the concept, development, and making it all successful.

Is Product Leadership relevant in India? Can it be taught?

It is, because you are learning the practical aspects of Product Management. Any man can have the basic ingredients of Product Management in place but in a sloppy manner, being able to take these basic ingredients and then putting it into a structure is what IPL is essentially doing.

What sets the IPL EMBA offering apart?

IPL teaches the essential frameworks that you need so that when you are in the job and trying to build a product, you have those frameworks in your head to be able to think and put them in the place. Basically, IPL is cutting to the chase, giving you the basic building blocks and frameworks to think and execute.

How are the EMBA graduates making their mark in the industry?

I've had an opportunity to hire a few of the graduates of IPL at Flipkart. The individuals are very strong and doing exceptionally well. After interacting with them, what I see is that the depth in terms of appreciating what product management is and applying that in practice is definitely very high. It’s a very positive effect on ecosystem for creating a pool of high quality product managers for potential business or start-ups or large companies.

Your one tip for the emerging product leaders?

"It starts and ends with the team" , that has been pretty much my biggest learning at Flipkart and now at Housejoy. Whether it is the founding team or people who are hired, we just have to be clear on what kind of culture that is to be built, being able to pen that down and then bring people on board who share the same thought process. There must be some synchronization in the thought process among the team members, if that synchronization is absent, there will be thoughts in all directions. This is the most critical thing that an entrepreneur has to focus on.

Key Take-aways:

- A 360 view and clarity about the product is what makes a product manager excel.
- Anyone can be a sloppy product manager; IPL takes the basic ingredients and ensures the structures are in place.
- IPL cuts to the chase by providing the essential frameworks and building blocks for Product Managers to execute more efficiently.
- Individuals graduating from IPL have exceptionally strong skills in product management.
- The most critical thing for an entrepreneur is to build a team that has a synchronization in their thought process - it begins and ends with the team!