This week we spoke with Sarika Kanabar, a product management leader who’s worked with iconic brands like Apple, Visa, Toyota, and Ford, as well as startups. We learned about her journey in finding the perfect career path and identifying ways to improve products.
FINDING YOUR PLACE
It’s important to explore different career paths to find the role that’s best suited for you. Sarika first started as a software engineer, and she was part of a team at Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
(CBC), Toronto that built an app for NHL hockey. At the time, she had no clue about hockey. Her job was retrieving third-party information and transforming it in real-time for app users. Everything was so technical the project manager asked for her support to communicate the technical updates to the sponsors. This was the first time she realized she not only liked being an engineer, but also enjoyed communicating with everyone. The app was number one on the AppStore for 3-weeks in a row. She said, “I realized that I like collaborating with teams, working with technology, and most importantly building products that make a difference. So that was my signal to move into product management.”
PRIORITIZE BASED ON THE BUSINESS GOAL
Before Sarika gets into building a new product or feature, she goes into a process called discovery. First, she figures out who the customer is, whether it’s an internal stakeholder or an external customer. By identifying the customer, you can understand their pain points. There are different ways to understand their pain points by talking to them directly or gathering complaints from the customer support team. She said, “looking at that list, you will have a sense of the current pain points, then you talk to them in-depth one pain point at a time. This helps you understand what the problem is.” You shouldn’t start making solutions but create questions for the users. She said, “Once you have that feedback from the users, you need to prioritize based on the customer impact, business goal, and value. Examples could be the growth of a product that may need to acquire more customers and increase revenue by 15%. If that is the goal, you need to prioritize whatever you have found with that lens because it’s important to the business.”
FAMILIARIZE YOURSELF WITH THE PRODUCT
You can’t market a product if you don’t know your product. Sarika said, “Having familiarity with the product is important, in my opinion. The ones who are interested or who familiarize themselves with the product have done better. And it also helps to know your customers very well.” So, get familiar with the product to be able to communicate in a very accurate manner that resonates with the users.