Product Management – The Ultimate Goal and How I intend to get there

Working at a Tech Giant on Enterprise Cloud Products has been better than I could have imagined. I absolutely love the whole process of building successful products. It is extremely fulfilling to know that the work you put in impacts not only your organization but also thousands of individuals and enterprises across the world.

Over the past two years, I worked on nearly every aspect of product development and the opportunities I received have been fantastic. I got to work on cutting edge technology, innovate and work alongside talented people who have inspired me to work harder.

Prior to working in this role, I had interned in various positions working in Graphic design to marketing and sales in Technology product companies. I love these roles too and I realized that I would love to take on more responsibility to build successful software products – Something at the intersection of Technology, Business and Design. I am passionate about building innovative products and that has brought me to this goal – The Goal of Becoming a Product Manager at a Technology company where I can lead innovation.

As a techie, I think my mind is trained to seeing any problem as binary – there either is a solution or there’s not. Business, on the other hand, is trickier than that. There are too many grey areas, it’s not black and white. Making data-driven decisions under uncertainty and taking calculated risks is something I must master in order to succeed as a product manager. I lack the business knowledge I must possess if I want to take on responsibility for the whole software product. A good product manager does not just take credit for the success of the product, he/she also takes responsibility for the failure of it. It’s not only about knowing the technicalities but also about managing teams, driving innovation and being a leader within your organization.

With this in mind, I decided it would be best to augment my technical background with a formal management education. Of course, This does not guarantee the job I hope to land, but I think bridging my gaps will bring me closer to my goals. There are definitely several routes to achieving the same goal. I understand my own strengths and weaknesses by now, and I believe this is the best path for me.

It is easy to get lost with the herd mentality at B-School so I think it is crucial to know EXACTLY what you want before you enter any graduate program. The key is FOCUS. I am determined to achieve this goal, and any professional decision I take will be keeping in mind this goal, until I accomplish it.

Why I want to go to Graduate School

I started this blog originally to document my Business School Journey because I believed an MBA was the right path to achieving my dream – Product Management at a Technology Company.

I came across several specialized master’s programs which could also help me accomplish my goals, and as a result I applied to a mix of MBA and specialized masters programs and some of the choices I made were unconventional.

I think the most important thing before heading to graduate school is that you should know exactly what your goals are, what the program can do for you to help you accomplish those goals, and have a realistic view about the limitations of the program as well.

Graduate school is a huge investment in terms of money and time, but more importantly it is a life-changing decision that will determine the course of the next 30+ years of your career.

If you are in the process of making this decision of attending graduate school, there really is no right or wrong answer about which program you should attend or where you should apply. There are no right or wrong reasons, all that matters is what your personal goals are. Some of those reasons could be to get a prestigious big-name university on your resume, learn some specialized skills, work with a specific professor you admire, do research in a niche area, get graduate education to get work permit more easily in a foreign country, learning something you always wanted to learn even if the field is not something that makes you easily employable or even just a lifestyle decision to be closer to a loved one or move to a specific part of the country or world.

Regardless of what your reason is, NO PERSON can make that decision for you – It should be entirely your own. Because no one else will be able to think from your perspective of what matters most to you.

There is always going to be some one out there who will criticize your decision or tell you you should have done something differently. Or maybe you will manage to please/impress everyone around you with some impressive accomplishment. Either way, it really does not matter. Because YOU are going to be the one who has to wake up each morning and live with the consequences of your decision. YOU will be the person following that career path and you cannot blame anyone else if it does not turn out the way you wanted.

The only person you should be impressing is yourself. – This is the single most important thing I have learnt when it comes to the decision to attend graduate school.

Chasing the MBA Dream as a young applicant

I am a young applicant trying to figure out my way in this complex MBA journey.

I am learning so much in this process and I thought of blogging about it. I hope this blog will help others on their journey.

Contemplating.. The Decision to get an MBA

Summing up the US MBA admissions process

Do I really want an MBA?

MBA Rankings and ‘Fit’

How many Business Schools do I apply to?

DIY : Figuring out which B-Schools to apply to

MBA School Choices!

MBA and Masters Program Choices!

So After a lot of random ramblings, I have decided to apply to several programs, a mix of MBA programs and specialized masters programs that can help me achieve my goals. I have decided to be super ambitious and go ahead and apply to HBS, other M7 programs, specialized masters programs including those at Stanford, Columbia and Carnegie Mellon. I have a couple safety schools too, but I do not want to attend any school out of the top 25. The ROI doesn’t make sense and it won’t open the opportunities I am looking for.

 

It is a crazy number of schools. Also I plan on applying to ALL these schools in Round 1. Wish me luck! 😛

I have been introspecting and researching this whole process for one year. I think I will be able to put together a good application for all these schools. Additionally, I am drawn to each of these schools for various reasons – For some, its about the cost of attendance, for others its about the west coast presence in Tech. Some are dream schools, some have a strong focus on innovation, some have a great alumni network I would love to be part of, some are perfect for the kind of job roles I want to land post-MBA. There are just too many factors in this decision and I will have a clearer picture on where I can attend only once I get admission decisions and if any admits, the financial aid.

If this backfires and I don’t make it, I’ll still view it as a positive experience. At least I tried my best to chase my MBA dream. I’ll never regret not applying or keep thinking ‘What if..’ 10 years later 😀

DIY : Figuring out which B-Schools to apply to

After a lot of contemplation, I decided to not use any MBA consultant services. Don’t get me wrong, I am sure they have helped thousands of candidates in the past, but I had some strong reasons.

  1. It was too expensive and a financial burden for me with my current income in Indian rupees. The most well-known consultants have exorbitant fees. I have very little savings already and can barely purchase a plane ticket to America! 😛
  2. I decided I wanted to apply to several schools to increase my odds of success. Application costs are very high, I would rather use the money I save in consultant services on a few extra applications! (Especially since my recommenders seem very enthusiastic for me and don’t seem going through the recommendation process multiple times – I double checked with them to make sure they were okay with recommending me to several schools – All good! )
  3. I’m more of a DIY person. I decided to take the pains of going through tons of information myself. Since I’m investing so much time and money anyway in the MBA, setting aside time for researching programs should be something I am willing to do. There is TONS of information out there, including:
    • Poets’ and Quants Website
    • GMAT Club
    • MBA Crystal Ball
    • MBA Blogs of other candidates
    • Linkedin! – Yes, I have been searching profiles to figure out the kind of jobs people get in my target industry at my target schools! Also, to get a sense of how competitive my profile is compared to admitted students from similar backgrounds (Asian-American, Indian undergrad schools, Early career candidates or Tech backgrounds!)
    • Books – As I mentioned before, I read ‘Beyond the MBA Hype: A guide to understanding and Surviving B-Schools’ by Sameer Kamat. You can check that out here.

 

Also, 2 awesome things happened!! I posted my profile for a free evaluation on both MBA Crystal Ball and Poets and Quants : Handicapping your elite MBA odds.

P&Q featured my profile and Sandy Kreisberg predicted my odds. Also, Sameer Kamat, founder of MBA Crystal Ball, got in touch with me personally, and spoke to me for about an hour answering all my doubts! It was extremely helpful since they gave me an honest assessment based on their experience and I got a more realistic picture of how adcoms might view me.

Additionally, Since out of tons of requests, my profile was noticed by them, It gave me some much-needed confidence. If I can stand out from others with similar backgrounds (Indian origin IT engineers – the most overrepresented cohort), then maybe I will be able to stand out at the time of admissions too! Fingers crossed! 😀 A special thank you to Poets and Quants John Byrne and Sandy Kreisberg as well as Sameer Kamat for your feedback 🙂

Contemplating.. The Decision to get an MBA

I graduated from college one year ago. I’m a computer engineer, and I work at one of the World’s most famous tech giants in product development. I’ve always been one of those people who is over ambitious, and is constantly in search of more to life. I’m not unsatisfied with my life, but I’m constantly planning my next step to success, learning every step of the way..

I love my job, I love my career, I had a fantastic college life, Why the need for more?, you may ask. That’s just how I am. Over competitive and over ambitious. I’m only one year out of college, and I can’t bring myself to stop thinking about my future career prospects. Maybe I’m happy now, but would I be if my growth stopped here, and my job stagnated? All of this made me think a lot about what I want in life. The past one year I have introspected, considered my options and come to only one solid conclusion: I want to go to B-school and get an MBA.

I thought about all my other options, and for me this just seemed to make more sense. Maybe it would differ for someone else, maybe some one else may have a different opinion. Some may argue about the need for an MBA. The downside to my decision? Only 1 year of work experience, a hefty price tag which I cannot afford (Not to mention the exorbitant application fees), the possibility of being in debt, and I don’t  know if I even have a chance at getting into one of my dream schools!