Young Achievers- In conversation with Sailesh Chaudhary, Senior Product Manager, Makaan.com
A software engineering background armed with an MBA degree from Great Lakes, Chennai, made me choose the internet product domain. I started my career with TCS as a software engineer in the telecom industry and got to be the youngest Subject Matter Expert (SME) in the domain within TCS. At this point, product management beckoned me and I choose a 1 year management program, because of the ROI that it offered.
Post my MBA, I joined Manipal Education as a Brand Manager. With my digital marketing expertise, I was able to establish “digital” as the primary channel of enquiry generation and customer acquisition. This gave the brand the confidence to launch products with complete online delivery of services, helping carve a niche in the online education sector.
I wanted to fill the knowledge void of B2B product development with IT as the core and HCL gave me that opportunity. I was able to help make e-learning more accessible and convenient with the HCL tablets and rich 3D content. As we were trying to develop a new category, it was challenging and provided enormous learning.
I currently head product development at Makaan.com, India’s fastest growing property site. I am responsible for complete product roadmap and user engagement. The constant endeavor to challenge the status quo helps us roll out amazing products and services.
Data, data and more data is the easiest way to describe any day. I start with analyzing the previous days KPI’s to understand if things are going as planned. Tracking of the new releases comes next. All this, while listening to latest Bollywood numbers.
We do a lot of number crunching to understand the user behavior. We draw trends and hypothesis to plan the future product launches. We have seen immense success by focusing on user behavior and this helped us plan and led to a predictable growth.
What has been your greatest product success story? What, in your opinion is the determining factor in the success of a product?
Making Makaan.com the leader and go to destination on mobile!! Our innovations on mobile have ensured that we are able to ride the smartphone wave and make this a growth engine when competition is still seeing mobile as a challenge.
We again relied on a lot of data to ensure we exceed user expectations. The innovative “photo view” on mobile has ensured that users are more engaged and get an immersive property search experience. This high engagement is evident in the jump in the RoI achieved. In the process of satisfying our users, we have also inspired some of our competitors who have copied portions of our design. What is a typical career path of a product manager in your industry? And what are some of the challenges associated with this role?
Product is the pillar for any internet product company. Typically, MBA graduates start with handling a segment of the portal which can either be based on the user segment or the device used for browsing. Once you gain experience and understanding- strategy, product roadmap planning and designing disruptions in category follow.
Influencing people and making them partners is the most challenging aspect of product development. As a product manager you are accountable for everything that happens, but cannot influence anything directly. Consensus building among different departments is most critical for success.
Product management role is extremely critical for a consumer internet organization as your actions determine the satisfaction of millions of users. It is an extremely satisfying but challenging role.
What personal skills are important for a product manager?
- Most of times a product manager is actually selling a dream- hence should be able to paint a vivid picture
- There is no other way to reach a consensus apart from using data- hence analytical skills and research
- There would be delays and differences, but bonding the team with a common goal can help in achieving desired results.
So, presentation, analytical ability and team bonding are the most critical skills required to be successful as a product manager.
Interested in this field, check out the latest product management jobs on iimjobs.