“Never Be Afraid to Say: I Don’t Know” — Vindhya C (2019 Noonies Winner: PM of the Year) | Hacker Noon

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@rachelminnleeRachel Lee

mother of unicorns. not a hacker. social distancing since 2018.

In her role as a product manager, Vindhya helps early-stage startups navigate through their product decisions, mostly in the B2C space. She is deeply interested in NBU, edtech and the fintech space. She enjoys poetry, theatrics, a good book and a random dance routine! She occasionally blogs at interesting publications, check out her blog,

here

In this Q&A, we ask her about product management and get a glimpse into her personal life.

How did you get into Product Management ?

I used to work in a service based industry, far away from the notion of what product management really was, I then discovered, I was a decent computer science engineer but could do something better.

A lot of twists later, I applied to a product company and learnt as much as I can about how it really works. When I thought I was ready, I cold messaged people and landed my first gig! 

What is the best piece of advice you have received that makes you a better Product Manager today?

That’s a tough one!

I think the best thing is not to be afraid to say “I dont know”.

I always had this notion that I needed to know a lot of things, I have had super bosses that are extremely brilliant and would still admit when they didnt know something and encouraged that. I think it really helped in me being better, because I can ask all the doubts I have before I make a product decision, so I make the right one! 

Any advice for talents who are already working in tech startups but would like to pivot into Product Management?

There are a LOT of resources online, and a LOT of different kinds of product management roles.

Read about all of the career options available to you, find what you exactly want to do, and then reach out to people almost at the top of their game.

I say almost, because say if you randomly wrote to Jack Dorsey your chances of response are low, so find great thinking minds(probably the next generation of Jack’s)  within your circle and try to talk to them.

Don’t go empty handed though, since you have your research down, get specific to what you need help with. From interviewing for jobs, to nailing your day to day job, ask & people will respond. Don’t stop at one person though, write to more people so someone responds & take it from there.

How did you feel when you were nominated (… and won!) the category for Product Manager of the Year ?

I remember being nominated and it was totally out of the blue? Because someone just tagged me on a twitter account & I honestly didnt believe it. It got pretty intense to the weeks leading upto the reveal as to who won it. I least expected to win though, I didnt think people would have even read what I had written.

Gave me a huge boost of confidence, from 2 years ago to not knowing a thing about the role & to now this!! AMAZING. 

What is your real job?

I consult early-stage startups on Product Management for now, until Covid-19 lets me figure out what I want to do next. Likely, a fulltime job or I might continue consulting. I also think it is of utmost importance to teach younger folks what the “real job” of a product manager is so I also take sessions and hope people can learn a thing or two from it that is useful at their first product job.

How do you keep up on your tech industry’s latest developments?

I read these newsletters

  • Alex Danco
  • Strictly VC
  • Morning Brew

I follow these podcasts

  • This Week in Startups
  • Invest like the Best

And I read these websites:

  • TechCrunch,
  • Product Hunt.
  • Twitter.

Which topics do you usually read on Hackernoon.com ?

What was the last book you read and was it any good?

’The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned from 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company’. What a book! I am in awe of things Disney has achieved & the lessons Bob Iger shares are gems!

If you could vote for your favorite Hacker Noon feature, what would it be?

I really enjoy browsing the Learn section and reading/learning a quick lesson. 

What’s your biggest vice?

To get away from work, I absolutely binge on the worst content available on any streaming platform.

Would you like to share more on what you are working on right now?

I currently help early stage startups in product decisions. I am working with AI/ML, fintech, edutech spaces and it has been very interesting to see their approaches to different customer segments & how different yet similar all their users can be! I also occasionally put up videos on twitter on comical takes about product management & startups.

Occasionally I advice students or people starting out on how to move to product roles & what to look for the first 90 days on the job. 

What is one thing you’d wish to change about yourself?

I really wish I read more! I don’t think I do justice to all my bookmarks and books on my list at all. I should really prioritize that.

If you could change a global issue that is one of the world’s biggest problems today, what would you change?

I really want more LGBTQIA representation to be given in all sectors. It is a struggle & I hope sometime in my lifetime, I can mentor/partner with organizations that actively tackle diversity issues and support them as much as I can. 

Is there anything else you wish the readers to know about you?

I love great spoken word poetry as much as I love a good product framework! I would love either of the above to be sent to me on Twitter anytime… 🙂 

Where are you living at right now? Bangalore, India.

What is your favourite breakfast meal? A very local cuisine true to my roots in Kerala, India – It’s called Appam and egg curry 🙂 😀 YUM! 

Do you have a phrase or a quote you live by?

 “Find people who will make you better.” — Michelle Obama

Favorite color: Tough. The colors I like keep changing, these days it is Burnt Orange.

Favorite podcast: Invest Like the Best

Favourite tech app you use daily: I love taking pictures so I really love Photoshop Express.

A tool you can’t live without: Google Docs. I write quite a bit and share it around. So this is very vital to how I do my job!

PUBLIC NOMINATIONS CLOSE ON 12 AUGUST, 2020: GO NOW ➡️

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