Sanjeev is a Product Manager at Superops.ai. He started his career as a customer support at Capgemini, then laid hands on Sales during his stint at Make A Difference, then started evangelizing and marketing Freshservice when he was with Freshworks. Now, took the Product Manager seat at Superops.ai
To put exactly In his words, “I started selling when I was in support, started speaking at conferences when I was in sales and started building products when I was in marketing. The transition was natural“
We wanted to capture his story exclusively because it was something, we also observed, so naturally happened to him. In this convo, he shares how his career transitioned from Support to Product Management, his point of realization that he could be the one, things to have to be the one, the tools he uses everyday in his Product Management seat. So, here the conversation goes.
1) Sanjeev, we know you started your career as a product support specialist. How did it happen? Was it something you picked or it came in your hands?
I had no say in this. My first job was right out of college and they landed me in a support role. Thinking back, it’s one of the best things to have happened. Because, starting your career in support means you immediately understand what the business does. And Product Management is just the intersection of product, business and customers.
2) That’s correct. What’s the most wanted quality that a product support person should have?
Zooming out of the product and looking at the customers’ business problem. A support rep isn’t a product expert, their product knowledge is not worth much if they can’t solve the customers problem. So, a support rep shouldn’t limit themselves to just knowing their product.
3) Hmm.. It’s beyond that. Got it got it.. So, you were then into Product Consulting right? How’s it? What’s the difference?
Yes!! To me, the difference was the storytelling part. For example, as a product consultant my job was to get prospects excited about our solution. And I had to paint a lot of pictures in their heads about how their future would be if they went with our solution. In a nutshell, in support, you’re working with facts. In consulting, you’re working with a lot of what-ifs.
4) And finally, what caused the interest to take up product management role?
Ever since I learnt what product managers do, I’ve always wanted to be a product manager. I like the ambiguous nature of the role. Got to figure out everything from scratch and every day there are many micro decisions to be made. And product managers get to impact people at scale. Versus a customer facing role where the impact is 1:1. But, I do miss the instant gratification of talking to customers.
5) Yes, that would always be fun to look back. Were there any instances you thought you could become a product manager during your stint as Product Consultant?
Yes! Whenever I faced a customer problem, I would start imagining solutions in my head. I would keep thinking, “If I were to solve this, I would’ve done it like this”. I also enjoyed solutioning conversation with product managers and that’s when I realized, I’d like to be a PM
6) How they helped you realize the same?
My time as a product consultant helped me understand customer problems much better. Because we deal with prospects, we talk more about their problems than our product. This meant that I got immersed in customer environments. And I started thinking for them. And that’s when I started thinking that I could sculpt the hero, the product, to solve the problem.
7) So much energy. So, this is something we wanted to clarify. To become a product manager or to be in a product management side, do you think, you should have technical knowledge?
It’s not a pre requisite but any kind of knowledge helps. For example, I like dabbling in code but that doesn’t help me directly in my job. But, that helps me empathize better with engineers. Sometimes, it’s also a curse. It’s better for PMs to be one level away from execution, so that they can keep the focus on the vision.
8) Haha.. Empathy stays on top. How’s the role? What are the responsibilities you have now?
The role is amazing. Especially, at a startup, when you get to build the product from scratch. Currently, my job is to figure out what problems we need to solve for our target segment.
9) Give us a sneak peek of your day as a product manager?
Haha, it’s a bunch of different things. I usually start my day reading about updates from the industry and catching up on industry forums. Then, I identify areas where devs or designers might be blocked and my top priority is to unblock them. Then, I spend time in conversations where we have to iron out the solutions. Towards the end, I spend time watching/reading educational content about the domain or product management or SaaS in general.
10) What are the tools you use everyday?
Notion for organizing work and documenting requirements. Roam Research for personal note taking. Things 3 for task management. Loom for recording videos an sharing.
11) Finally, before we let you go, who was your inspiration to pick this career up?
I don’t have a single inspiration because I got into it very early. Now, I follow Shreyas Doshi and John Cutler on Twitter who share interesting perspectives on product management.