From Programmer to Product Manager
How a software engineer found his calling in product management
Product manager [noun]: Person responsible for overseeing all activities and functions associated with a particular product or product family (according to Business Dictionary). However, assuming all product managers are the same is like comparing apples to oranges — managing mobile banking can be drastically different from overseeing a retail app.
Taplytics is excited to launch the series “A Look into Product Management,” featuring several mobile product managers’ individual stories and unique insights.
Our first feature is Maanas Bukkuri, the mobile product manager at a major fashion retailer. He guided us through his journey into product management and shared some advice on how to succeed in the role.
A Product Manager is Born
Before Maanas became a product manager, he lived in the world of tech development as a software engineer. His range of responsibilities branched out when he joined Sysrepublic, a retail data analytics company. Business analysis, wireframing, testing, and interfacing with the customer were all parts of his task list, so it didn’t take Maanas long to realize that he was essentially taking on the role of a PM. After finishing a product management course at General Assembly, he started applying his newly learned skills and tools as a PM with HYFN.
“I found myself going through the entire life cycle of a product with a more holistic perspective.”
There is undeniably a front-facing aspect to product management, and the ability to make a good impression can prove to be an asset. Maanas’ introduction to the world of fashion e-commerce occurred at the end of a journey in personal transformation. His decision to reinvent his wardrobe paved the path towards becoming a product manager at a large clothing retailer.
Is Coding a Must?
“Do you need to have technical experience as a product manager? To me, the answer is no. Product Managers are very good at identifying problems and finding solutions to those problems.”
A technical background definitely isn’t a requirement for being a product manager, but Maanas has found that it carries its advantages. A driving force behind app growth is the mobile development team, and being able to speak their language is a way to “explain what the business need is without burning through a lot of communication cycles.” For PMs with less technical experience, crash course-ing a technical topic or spending a weekend brushing up can allow them to gain more leverage around their developers.
While a heavy focus may be on addressing the needs of the end consumer, a product manager also has to pay attention to internal dynamics. Recognizing and helping to overcome certain barriers within the developer team allows them to execute and produce end results more efficiently. In a sense, product manager is synonymous with master problem solver.
“Empathy is everything. It’s crucial to see yourself in the customer’s shoes so you can identify & resolve the pain.” — Tweet This
What it Takes
Maanas has always loved software development, but he found that it went hand in hand with a clear understanding and alignment of the user need. As a product manager, he’s able to also work on the consumer side and allow the developers to “focus strictly on architecture, technology, and what they do best.” A large demand of the role is the ability to comprehend how people behave and what incentivizes them, so an interest in human behavior or psychology can go a long way in product management.
Paying it Forward
“I want to give back to the community that raised me.”
As a graduate from General Assembly’s Product Management course, Maanas decided to return as an Associate Instructor in order to share his stories and thoughts with new PMs. The product manager population in Los Angeles is steadily growing, and Maanas loves taking an active role in nurturing passionate individuals. Beyond teaching others, he is also continually “updating his knowledge of the product management playbook,” as he reviews and evaluates the learning material himself.
“Anybody can be a PM if they are passionate, and great product managers take you one step closer to amazing products.” — Tweet This
Have a story you’d like to share? We’re happy to listen! Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to join the conversation.