What is it like to be a Product Manager in India?

Product Management
July 6, 2022
10 mins read

Padmini Janakai is the founder of Mind and Mom, a deep-tech startup that focuses on using new AI technologies to change the healthcare experience for women in the nation. Currently providing services in the areas of infertility and pregnancy, allowing women and physicians to make better, more informed decisions.

She is also a fantastic writer. She recently released her book Myths & Millennials: A Book About Women for Men & Women, in which she discusses her personal path as a girl from a lower-middle-class household who grew up seeing myth-filled movies and commercials.

She’s also worked with Women in Product, India, to build a professional network of highly engaged women Product Managers.

When it comes to her product management expertise, she is a trained professional who has previously worked for well-known companies in the same capacity.

In Zeda.io’s ongoing webinar series of PM Spotlight, our Founder, Prashant Mahajan, asked her a bunch of questions to better understand her story, What it is like to be a Product Manager in India, and more!

We shall be sharing the questions and her answers for the same below: let us Dive in…

When asked what led her to start Mind and Mom, she shares her interesting and very important point of view; her strong belief in feminism combined with the society that she grew up looking at steered her mind in this direction.

As a millennial mother, I have faced many health issues during my pregnancy, starting from curing PCOS, having gestational diabetes, and obesity. I cured them in a hard way, starting by changing my lifestyle choices, now women in India don’t have to go through the same, my vision is to help them, my vision is to make them mindful.

When it comes to her path into product management, she explains how it all began.

Her adventure began ten years ago when she graduated from college. She began her work as a designer. And then she went into UI/UX and eventually became a product manager, which she thought was a sensible next step at the time.

Later, she worked for a number of product firms, including PayPal, etc. Then she moved to a startup where she started working in the women’s health care system. That’s how she was led to mind and mom.

The personal side  of me being a mother and the professional side of me being a product manager is landed me at mindandmom.

Next, let’s talk about her “thought process”, meaning what lead her to shift from the other domain into a product manager.

She describes how there has recently been a lot of buzz about becoming a product manager. Every top institute offers a course on how to become one. While she believes that anybody can become a product manager, To become a PM, you’ll need the right mindset, which no training or anything can provide if you don’t know what you’re doing.

You think like a businessperson. You come up with a problem and a solution. You’ll require a variety of skills, both hard and soft. Both are critical. Determine “the gap analysis” of what it takes to become the sort of PM you desire.

She very well puts how important it is to remember that there are several sorts of product managers. There’s a growth product manager, a technical product manager, a Saas product manager, and so on. It is necessary to determine what type of PM one wants to become. Be conscious of the talents required, as well as any gaps, and then go for it. Becoming a PM is a journey, and it’s a project in itself. So, if you’re dedicated, becoming a product manager is simple.

When asked, What exactly is a product manager according to her, she explains:

Many folks have no idea what a PM is or what it accomplishes. People must find out what type of business they are searching for. In certain firms, a PM functions similarly to a scrum master. So it’s better if we establish the correct expectations first and then search for it.

She also elaborated on her journey of shifting from design to product management.

She recalls her complete lack of understanding of the technical side of things in the beginning, and how her first function as a PM was as a technical product manager.

I’m not sure what to say in this line; there’s no shame, yet I offer a completely different value to the table. I bring the user’s point of view. Now that I’ve found my strength, I’m ready to take on the world. If I am clueless when it comes to technology, I inquired about the same. I want to keep my learning options as wide as possible. This is how API works. How to make a proper distinction. It took around 6-7 months to complete.

She also emphasized the willingness to learn. There is no product manager who knows everything. Certain skills one is good at, others you take complimentary from others.

Padmini’s view of Zeda.io

I am working as a pm at my startup. I look at the demo. What happens most of the time goes when I shift from one tool to another 10 tabs are open, it’s complicated. If everything is connected in front of me like a dashboard where data is going to talk to each other. It will be so much better. Zeda.io shall provide that.

She also shares her view on moving abroad and her choice to stay in India.

She describes how initially her desire was to move to the United States, but she subsequently realized while she was traveling often there, there’s a lot we can do to make things better here in India.

So many Indian-based product companies were gaining popularity, and the quality of these things was unrivaled. She discusses how Zoho’s creator built the firm from the ground up in India itself and is a very inspiring example for the same.

It’s been done before. It’s a fallacy that only Silicon Valley can create such things. I was given a visa by a healthcare firm, but I chose to stay and work here.

It’s time to create inside India, for India, and ultimately for the rest of the world. In India. Having the experience working with engineers both in India and the US, she explains how her personal experience was great in India.

Last but not the least, her views on product management vs building the company. How it is different.

She gives a very interesting example to explain the difference. When running a company, you are actually in a place where you are flying without a lifejacket. You are dealing with so many things, will people trust you enough to join you. On top of it, you should also build a company and a product.

You can be a completely successful product manager but raising funds is not easy.

Padmini Janaki’s (whom we also call “the jack of all trades”) story is inspirational in many ways. It’s for people like her that women who want to achieve so much but are shackled by narrow thinking and ineffective methods could find the strength to break free and achieve greatness.


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