#AskMeAnything session with Shilpi Agrawal, Product Leader at Intercom happening tomorrow Friday June 3rd 10:30 AM PT
Welcome to this week’s AMA session at Launch! with Shilpi Agrawal, Product Leader at Intercom. A Product Manager’s forte is asking great questions. Take this opportunity to practice a core PM skill as you get your burning PM questions answered
Please make sure to follow the outlined rules to ensure we all have an enjoyable and seamless session
Meet The Speaker
Shilpi Agrawal is a Product Leader currently building great products at Intercom.
Throughout her half of a decade in the Product Management world, she has also worked at great startups including VMock and ShareChat. She also spent time as an Associate Consultant at Zinnov, where she was the first intern to be offered a full-time role with the company.
Read full bio
AMA Guidelines :
This is a 48 hr text-based live-chat event that happens every other Friday
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The content in this AMA is for educational purposes only and does not include any specific facts of the company the presenter is currently working for. The opinions expressed in this AMA are solely those of the presenter based on personal experiences.
what would be your suggestion for folks trying to move from Consulting to PM role; specially when PM roles need past PM experience?
Hello there, my question is this, I have been in the product design and development field (apparel and accessories / hard goods, not digital products) for 20 years in an e-com environment. All the items I design develop, source and bring into inventory are for a large e-com business. I have extensive knowledge on how to bring these products to market and have been considering the logical next steps in my career. Having the knowledge of bringing these products to market with proven sales, I was thinking a logical pivot for me would be Product Management, or possibly a Product Director. Do you think someone like myself with experience bringing product to market could be successful in a product manager role? I have a high level of problem solving and analytical/critical thinking skill and am able to work seamlessly across many different teams within my company. I would really appreciate any insight into a job pivot that makes sense for someone like me as I am 42 years old and need to make sure my time isn’t wasted going down a path that may not be a good fit for me. Thanks!
Hi Shilpi, thanks for being here!
I’m curious how do you socialize product roadmaps to stakeholders? Is there a specific way that you like to do it that has worked well for you?
Hi Praveen! Thank you for your question.
Requirement of prior PM experience for a PM role varies depending on the company and level of open PM role. Many companies and leaders recognise that diversity in past experience makes for a great PM candidate. People from backgrounds in business, entrepreneurship, analytics, sales, support, consulting etc are always encouraged to shift to product if they are passionate about it.
People having a background in management consulting can become amazing product leaders as they are often critical thinkers and problem solvers. They may make for amazing product strategists, designers and communicators. My suggestion for them is to present their positive skillset like being able to align product with business and hone their complementary skills like execution and product thinking further!
Thanks to Product School for having me
Aligning multiple stakeholders to product roadmaps can be difficult especially for big companies. My advice is to over-communicate. Share early, share often. Be transparent. Provide a forum for everyone to contribute. Communicate risks and dependencies as early as possible. Get feedback and work on them to ensure everyone is part of the roadmapping process - from the execs to your team ICs
Do you think someone like myself with experience bringing product to market could be successful in a product manager role?
Absolutely!!! 100% In fact, I would go one step beyond and say that having you in their product team would be a pleasure for any product team especially e-commerce or logistics-first companies. I have no doubts about it.
Since you have extensive knowledge in e-commerce products, you already understand the consumer psychology and pain points. You already know how to navigate/mitigate the difficulty and help people buy. It’s very important for product folks to understand consumer psychology and pain points to be able to build great products. Early PMs do a lot of research to build the context you have already built over years! I do not think having experience building products digitally is a must have. Principally, online or offline - both types of products are aimed at making lives simpler by solving for most important consumer pain points.
Incompetent product marketing, GTM strategy or sales is one of the major reasons many products fail. Distribution is key to many industries. Your experience taking offline products to market can help a product team tremendously to launch very successful products. Key areas that you have so much experience in can help you in your Product Management journey ahead. You have skills to make most impactful products and get them well adopted.
All the best, Jonathan!
Thanks for joining us, @shilpi.agrawal! My question is around validating product requirements. What methods do you use to ensure that you are on the right path for product development? How much testing and validation is enough before you’re comfortable shipping a new version of a product or a new product all together? I always feel like it’s not quite ready, but I also know that you can’t wait for perfect, lol.
Thanks for the amazing question @Marjorie ! I often quote from a book “Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good”. It is a legitimate struggle for PMs to prioritise correct product requirements.
How much testing and validation is enough before you’re comfortable shipping
I’d advice that you do you - as much as necessary for you to convince yourself and your team that you’re building the best and most impactful products that you can. Bring in the customer feedback from different sources, data, your own intuition. Be very close to the problem statement and define it. Be very close to the customers themselves and ask for their help whenever needed to prioritize correct problem.
Launch a smaller slice of your solution tackling the core problem and let customer feedback guide you and help you validate requirements (is that being adopted? are the customers asking for something more?) to ensure you’re on the correct path. Customer feedback is the oxygen for product.
Hope it answers your question to some extent
What advice do you have for managing stakeholder expectations when building a product? Especially when they want to launch a product even if the data shows no one wants it. I’ve seen products get pushed to market anyway even when the product manager has clear, early data and information that shows it’s not something customers want but leaders want to launch it anyway because of the investment made. What tips can you share to help product managers prepare leaders for “bad news” and manage expectations?
I hear you, Marjorie! I do not think it is a healthy team or company environment if people launching a product (PMs, Engineers, Designers etc) do not believe in the product or the work they do but company leaders push them to do it, being aware of it.
I’d say the only thing anyone (not just PM) in such a team can do is voice their opinion and back it with substance and evidence. Hope that everyone gets to build things they believe are impactful but I understand we don’t live in an ideal world unfortunately and reality sometimes is bad
Regarding managing expectations - I think clear, transparent, early communication which is documented is great way to manage expectations
Before we go, do you have any final advice for aspiring Product Managers, @shilpi.agrawal ?
And if you want to take a few more minutes to respond to more questions, feel free!
But also, THANK YOU so much for your time and wisdom! It was a pleasure having you on the channel today
If you want to see the transcript of this AMA or any of our previous sessions, check out our blog later this week here. We also share talks and insights on all things Product Management
Hope you all have a great day! :starz:
THANK YOU for having me here and thanks for moderating @Andres
I really enjoyed interacting with everyone on this forum! Thank you for all your amazing questions!!
My advice is generic - you often know the right answer. Be bold and courageous and stand up for yourselves. You’ll shine in whatever you do.
A book I can’t recommend enough for research - The Mom Test
If any of you amazing people want to join an amazing mission - have a look at Intercom’s careers page. We’re growing! @Intercom is hiring a Senior Product Manager Job Application for Senior Product Manager at Intercom
If you wish to get in touch with me, you can send me a DM on Twitter or shoot me a mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to hear if this was useful or not. Reiterating that feedback is the oxygen for growth and I’d love to hear from you lovely people