Product Manager vs. Technical Product Manager

Came across an interesting take between Product Managers and Technical Product Manager and here’s how it goes. A lot of people ask me about how to break into product management. I think that is because product management is a hot career track today. So much so that there are many variations on the role and title.

In fact, right now there are  973 job listings on LinkedIn seeking qualified technical product managers. There are hundreds of job postings for digital product managers and principal product managers and even an upstream product manager. Oh, and another 5,555 listings for the generically-labeled product manager.

OK, so what is the difference between these different job titles? Let’s focus on the product manager and technical product manager since you would think that all product managers would have some technical chops.

You see a lot of articles that advise on whether product managers should invest in learning technical skills. In fact, that is usually one of the most popular threads on PM forums. That might lead you to think that technical product manager is a hybrid product management/engineering role. Not so fast.

Technical product managers bring a deep technical expertise to their role but still focus on the core best practices of product management. If you look closely at those 973 job descriptions, you’ll see that they are not all that different from the role and responsibilities of a regular ol’ product manager.

Both are responsible for:

  • Strategy: Setting a product vision and strategy
  • Ideation: Gather and promote the most relevant ideas into features
  • Roadmapping: Plan and prioritize what (and when) the product teams will deliver
  • Features: Define the “what” with user stories and requirements
  • Go-to-market: Work with cross-functional teams to deliver a complete customer experience

Yes, there are many similarities. And any good product manager will want to stretch and expand their breadth of knowledge into new areas. It is what separates rock-star PMs from their ho-hum counterparts — an insatiable desire to learn and grow.

However, there are often some nuanced differences between a product manager and technical product manager.

Product manager Technical product manager
Degree More likely to have a degree in business More likely to have a degree in computer science or engineering
Focus Often customer-facing and involved in setting the overall product strategy More focused on how the product works and tends to be more capabilities focused
Teams Collaborates with many non-technical teams, including sales, marketing, and support — and works with outside partners and other third-parties Works closely with technical internal teams, including engineering and development, to write user stories and requirements
Research Studies the competitive landscape from a strategic business and go-to-market perspective Evaluates competitors and the market for capability-oriented and emerging development and technology trends

Technical knowledge can help product managers to communicate clearly and effectively with their engineering team. It can also give them insight into new development approaches and technical capabilities that might yield better results for customers.

Many companies will find that they excel with two product management roles — a business-minded PM and a technical PM. And others will determine that it is best to have one person leading product who can answer the “why” and the “what” and who can also engage in the “how.”

It is also worthwhile to point out that each company varies and titles do not always reflect exactly what people do. I have known technical product managers who did not have strong technical skills and product managers who transitioned into their role from software development.

However, regardless of title all product managers need to demonstrate the same “soft” skills necessary for executing on product management best practices — including clear communication, leadership, diplomacy, and compassion.

What do you think are the most important skills for succeeding in product management?


Why Masayoshi Son Invested $20 Million in a Young Jack Ma

SoftBank Group Corp. Chairman and CEO Masayoshi Son explains why he invested in a young Jack Ma even though Ma “had no business plan.” He speaks with David Rubenstein for “The David Rubenstein Show: Peer-to-Peer Conversations” in a conversation recorded Sept. 19. (Source: Bloomberg)

Things I wish Amazon Alexa – echo or Google Assistant did

I’ve been exploring automating my daily tasks with Amazon Echo Dot and Google Assistant and found few drawbacks when it comes down to certain features.

Here’s my top 5 for Assistant :

  • “What’s next on my agenda ?” followed with “Can you update the location ?”
  • “Last missed calls”
  • “Meeting mode” “silence mode”
  • “Open ‘App_Name’ after ‘duration’
  • “How’s the weather for my 3pm meet’

Here’s my top 5 for Alexa – echo dot :

  • Night lamp mode
  • Monitor for unusual sound and give me a ping
  • Call between 2 Alexa devices – VoIP
  • Send audio to chromecast
  • Mobile audio streaming

At Pupa Clic we’ve been playing around with the Echo Dot and developing unique skills. Follow our facebook page to know more.

Google is a Startup

I recently bought the echo dot and connected my Sonoff switches to have my home automated end to end with voice and the internet.

With the launch of voice assistant products such as Alexa, the internet which is usually used for Q&A queries are being channeled to hardware based voice assistant’s. Ad’s which fetch a lot of value from google searches will have a greater impact with regards to the company’s value.

Everyday users are experiencing new features on voice based assistants such as Siri, Alexa and Bixby and no one would want to hear an Ad as a response or from a speaker.

Time will soon tell a tale of awe, but for now I consider Google to be a startup which should look at ways to manage content visibility.

Mr Narayan Murthy’s email to all Infosys employees

  • If you are working more than 9 hour then don’t need to join Infosys.
  • If you are working on saturday and sunday don’t join infosys (for IT).
  • Whatever time define in your task complete within time.

Fire all people who fall in criteria 1,2,3.

It’s half past 8 in the office but the lights are still on… PCs still running, coffee machines still buzzing… And who’s at work? Most of them ??? Take a closer look…

All or most specimens are ?? Something male species of the human race…

Look closer… again all or most of them are bachelors…

And why are they sitting late? Working hard? No way!!! Any guesses??? Let’s ask one of them… Here’s what he says… ‘What’s there 2 do after going home…Here we get to surf, AC, phone, food, coffee that is why I am working late…Importantly no bossssss!!!!!!!!!!!’

This is the scene in most research centers and software companies and other off-shore offices.

Bachelor’s ‘Passing-Time’ during late hours in the office just bcoz they say they’ve nothing else to do… Now what r the consequences…

‘Working’ (for the record only) late hours soon becomes part of the institute or company culture.

With bosses more than eager to provide support to those ‘working’ late in the form of taxi vouchers, food vouchers and of course good feedback, (oh, he’s a hard worker….. goes home only to change..!!). They aren’t helping things too…

To hell with bosses who don’t understand the difference between ‘sitting’ late and ‘working’ late!!!

Very soon, the boss start expecting all employees to put in extra working hours.

So, My dear Bachelor’s let me tell you, life changes when u get married and start having a family… office is no longer a priority, family is… and That’s when the problem starts… b’coz u start having commitments at home too.

For your boss, the earlier ‘hardworking’ guy suddenly seems to become a ‘early leaver’ even if u leave an hour after regular time… after doing the same amount of work.

People leaving on time after doing their tasks for the day are labelled as work-shirkers…

Girls who thankfully always (its changing nowadays… though) leave on time are labelled as ‘not up to it’. All the while, the bachelor’s pat their own backs and carry on ‘working’ not realizing that they’re spoiling the work culture at their own place and never realize that they would have to regret at one point of time.

So what’s the moral of the story??
* Very clear, LEAVE ON TIME!!!
* Never put in extra time ‘ unless really needed ‘
* Don’t stay back unnecessarily and spoil your company work culture which will in turn cause inconvenience to you and your colleagues.

There are hundred other things to do in the evening..

Learn music…..

Learn a foreign language…

Try a sport… TT, cricket………..

Importantly,get a girlfriend or boyfriend, take him/her around town…

* And for heaven’s sake, net cafe rates have dropped to an all-time low (plus, no fire-walls) and try cooking for a change.

Take a tip from the Smirnoff ad: *’Life’s calling, where are you??’*

Please pass on this message to all those colleagues and please do it before leaving time, don’t stay back till midnight to forward this!!!



And Moreover; to all the managers:


Five Tips for the Indian Woman Techie – Rajani Seshadri

A couple of weeks back, James Damore, then a Google employee, wrote a now (in)famous email to his coworkers, about Google’s policies and practices on gender diversity.

While many people have commented on various aspects of the original memo, I wonder what lessons this has for us, a country where women are joining the tech workforce in large numbers.

Today, women form almost 50% of the class in Electrical, Electronics, Computer Engineering, Computer Science and Information Technology programs. We have several advantages over the west

  1. The Indian tech industry is open to hiring women
  2. Our families, especially our mothers, whether they worked or were home-makers, are supportive and value the importance of our careers
  3. Despite the stereotype, many Indian men do want their wives to have a career, especially in tech
  4. Indian Tech companies lead the way in gender diversity programs

Women form between 30-50% of the entry-level professionals in Indian tech companies.

What can we do to ensure that this pipeline remains healthy over time and women find it interesting, satisfying and rewarding to work in high technology areas?

I hope to write this as a three-part series to share my ideas on what can be done – by the individual, by industry and by academia (schools and colleges)

Here are five things I’ve learnt in my career of over 30 years in Electronics and IT Services.

Stay Immersed, Stay Invested

Academically, women continue to take the top places in graduate and under-graduate programs, as they do in high-school. It is important to continue the learning habit once we complete our education. Immersing oneself in a subject builds interest and as we ‘get it’, interest develops. This is the single best investment each of us can make. In my experience, women get caught up in several challenges and under-invest in continuous learning.

Twenty-five years ago, I was one of the very few women in the area of Telecom Switching. It was a new subject for all of us, but I had a 4-year old child to raise, a home to manage and I had to find time to acquire expertise. It was also before Google and electronic tablets, which meant I carried books (heavy ones at that) and print copies of articles around, to read on the train, in buses and wherever else I could. In fact, I have been so immersed in reading at the bus-stop, that if my colleagues hadn’t shouted from the company bus, I’d have missed it. But all the reading and learning helped me to become one of the experts in the company.

Information is easier to access today than ever before. There are free and paid courses, webinars and tons of reading material available online to build awareness and expertise. We are limited only by our willingness to invest – time and money – in ourselves.

Each of us has to take personal responsibility to continue to learn – Every. Day.

Stay Relevant

Once you develop Subject Matter Expertise, don’t hide your light under a bushel. As Sheryl Sandberg says in her book, Lean-In – take a seat at the table (not along the wall of the conference room), volunteer an opinion, defend your position – let people know that you know your subject.

Every single person in that room is there to showcase themselves, so don’t wait for someone to solicit your opinion. Leaning-in and contributing will ensure that you are always on the invitee list.

It is difficult to speak up, especially when everyone else in the room is talking loudly, often over each other and without any blank air-time to allow for an interruption. I have seen people get their point in by speaking softer – the entire room goes quiet, to hear better. Preparing a set of bullet-points before the meeting can also help you get started.A coach can help you rehearse your points before the meeting.

Contribute to Technical and Industry Forumspost on LinkedIn – when you have published a technical piece on, say, ‘How IoT can influence Healthy Office Buildings’, most colleagues will automatically want to listen to your opinions on other areas – after all, you may have an idea!

Stay Connected

I was the Chairperson for the Indian Women Network (IWN), Tamil Nadu last year and have been involved with the organisation from the conceptualisation stage. IWN aspires to bring women professionals together to learn from each other – to gain a mentor and to mentor younger women. Our single biggest challenge has been to get women to attend ‘member meets’ – once a quarter.

Women believe that their work should speak for itself, but the body of work we produce is screaming, “Hey, give me some help here – talk about me” – we need to tell people – what we have accomplished, what we are doing, how the work matters to our employer and maybe society. Our immediate supervisors and our teams may know, but if we don’t bother to tell people, why should they do our work for us? They’ll talk about their achievements, not ours!

Please join IWN, IEEE, Computer Society of India, NASSCOM or a similar organisation, meet other women – mentor and be mentored. Talk about your achievements and experience.

While an Indra Nooyi or a Shikha Sharma may be aspirational role models, it is easier to relate to someone closer in age, background and experience.

Women are hungry for role models and you may be the one they can emulate!

If there is a party at work, do attend. Your partner and you can agree that you will attend your company’s events, while he spends time with family. I find that when a role requires networking, women believe that they’ll be out every evening.

Industry bodies rarely require more than two or three evenings a month. This means, in a year, you could have thirty opportunities to learn, network and consistently build your brand.

Do join in, enthusiastically, and make those evenings matter.

 Stay Organised 

Time Management is essential if all these have to be done for several years. I recently wrote a post on LinkedIn about time management being the key to work-life integration – so is, staying organised.

My life lesson is, “Where possible, outsource!!”.

We cannot outsource being a good daughter, wife, mother, sister, friend – but we can outsource housekeeping, laundry, cooking and cleaning. Making my kids’ beds doesn’t make me a great mother, but sitting with them while they eat breakfast or helping them with homework gives us time to talk.

A weekly planner with 3 lists – a “Must Do”, “Ought to Do” and “Nice to Do” helps.

Plan your weekend, as much as you plan your week – whether it is Online grocery shopping, planning weekly menus, wardrobe planning for the week ahead – all make for a busy weekend, but help during the week when work crises erupt with zero warning.

If you would like just ‘down-time’, plan that as well.

Do build a group of like-minded women, with whom you can swap tips.

I used to cook all day Saturday and freeze food, as my son’s school was closed on Thursdays and Sundays in Mumbai. I had an advantage, that I recognised and used – power rarely failed in Mumbai and food didn’t spoil. While this worked for me, it may not be right for you – each of us has to find ways that work for us.

Stay Determined

When my younger colleagues ask me how I managed work and family, I wonder what they’re talking about. Granted I had a fantastic support system at home, but I also did all the things I have talked about here. I also showed up for work every day and never refused an opportunity I was offered. I have done roles in programming, design, project management, software process management and have run a business.

When I took a year-long sabbatical after working without a break for 25 years, I trained to become an Executive Coach, which is now a satisfying and rewarding career and plays an important part in shaping future leaders.

Damore didn’t get it quite right – biology is a factor, but it is because women generally subordinate their careers at multiple points in their lives – we’re still the trailing spouses who move cities to accommodate our husband’s careers. Child-bearing, raising children and elder-care fall to women. We need to plan for and around these, rather than give up on our careers.

Critical to Success is not giving up your job – do take long leave if your company offers the option.

It is much easier to return to an organisation that knows your capabilities and where you know the environment and people, than to start job-hunting after a break.

And if you are taking a break, stay connected with colleagues on social media and continue to Stay Invested in learning.

If you must give up your job, fix a date by which you’ll return to work and plan accordingly. There are several companies that hire women who have taken a break and others (for example, Avatar Career Creators) that help women to return to the workforce

The key is to not drift away from the workforce.

So, there is a lot that a woman techie in India can do –

Stay Immersed and Invested in building your expertise,
Stay Relevant by showcasing your competence,
Stay Connected to mentors and peers,
plan your time by Staying Organised
and above all,
Stay Determined to never, ever quit the workforce

Rememberwhen economists talk about the demographic dividend that is a driver for India’s growth story – you’re the superior half of that secret weapon.

Credits :

Uber’s Pitch Deck from 2008

Recently came by uber’s pitch deck from 2008, and here are some of the pointers to take from the list :

  • Slide 3 : The Medallion system
  • Slide 5 : 1-Click Cab Service
  • Slide 12 : Environmental Benefits
  • Slide 15 : Technology
  • Slide 16 : Demand forecasting
  • Slide 23 : Marketing Ideas

Pitch Deck : Uber Cab Pitch Deck from 2008