My journey from a Consultant to a Product Manager post-MBA
My name is
Vatsal Madan, and I just (literally a week back) graduated from the Indian School Business, CO21. I would want to share my story of how I was able to crack one of the most coveted Product Management jobs from campus, with surprisingly no past experience in the field. I hope my journey will inspire and motivate others to challenge themselves and pursue careers, which might be quite a shift from what they are doing at present.
Prior to ISB, I had around 6.5 years of work experience comprising 3 years in a consulting role with ZS Associates, 2 years as a business manager with my family business, and around 1.5 years as a project consultant with Novartis. In nutshell, I was totally away from the term “Product Manager or Product Management”, at least formally.
Carrying a perception that product management is for people who are passionate software developers, as most MBA students do, I too made consulting with one of the MBBs as my post ISB goals.
It was one of the speaker sessions that I was attending, while at ISB, that I got a flavor of what Product Management means and what role a product manager plays. This was the first instance that I felt an attack at my preconceived notion of attaching mandatory requirement of coding skills for pursuing a PM role. Despite a lot of buzz around me about lucrative PM roles offered by ample companies at ISB, I stuck to my original goal of pursuing a consulting role with MBBs.
However, this focus of mine lasted only until Flipkart posted its job openings for PM1 and PM2 roles. After being in a double mind for 1 full week as to whether I should put in effort and submit the case presentation required in the initial round, I finally decided to go ahead and give it a try. Luckily, my case presentation, which was around a problem statement of solving a challenge faced by any of the apps, was selected. I was among the 45 shortlisted candidates out of 200 who had submitted the case study. That is when I decided to give a shot at cracking a PM role with one of the most sought-after companies that visit ISB.
Given the short notice of 3 days after which the interviews were scheduled, I decided to focus on getting my basics right. I started off by familiarizing myself with the most relevant frameworks that are used by PMs. Instead of going for many practice problems, I practiced 2–3 questions of each type and had grilling discussions around it with one of my friends who himself was a PM aspirant. Going through the PM cases on the YouTube channel — “Exponent” — really helped me.
Finally, after 4 grueling rounds of interviews, I was offered a PM1 role at Flipkart. The interviews mainly revolved around testing my problem structuring and problem-solving skills, team management skills, and technical skills. Contrary to my expectations, the interviewers focused on logic building rather than on writing heavy codes. Having no PM background, I decided to stick to the basics in all the rounds and I think that is what the interviewers were looking forward to.
Once the placement season was over and have been the first student on campus to get placed, I reflected on my journey. One key insight that I could draw is that a student should pursue his/her journey with an open mindset keeping aside all the perceptions and biases. That is how he/she can get the best out of this wonderful journey.
I look forward to the new chapter of my life and hope it is as exciting as I perceive it from the outside.
I would also like to express my appreciation and gratitude to my CrackAdmisison consultant, Arijit, who (an alum) provided me with encouragement and guidance in my pursuit to make a career transition.