What is your background and how did you get into Product Management?
I studied visual communication and started my career as a user experience designer. It is my passion for people that has driven me into problem-solving and eventually product management. How can I make a product better? I was doing visual designing but at one point in time, I felt I was not solving the real problem. Basically, finding the purpose of why you are doing something, that drew me into product management. It is not like I want to be Product Manager on day one. It was totally a journey. I spent a nice time in user experience designing and talking to customers. It was a natural process to get into product management.
What motivates you every day?
How can I combine the purpose and the product is the question I wake up to every day. I am way too enthusiastic at times. I will have 100 things to do and I plan it well. I plan for the entire week beforehand. I am a mother and planning keeps me excited. I had the opportunity to talk to a lot of powerful people. I recently started a podcast with one of my friend who is also a woman-in-product. The podcast was not common in India like in the US. But we were determined to create a culture. When we started our podcast, we did not even have a mike. When you want to do something, the universe will aspire. Listening to podcast is one of my important lifestyle changes which brought in too many facets into my life.
What are the biggest challenges you faced during your product journey?
The challenge that I faced in the product journey was the baggage I had as a user experience designer. I always felt “Oh! I am a user experience designer, I know customers well”. It was not true. Only when you go and talk to customers, you really know their needs. Initially, that was a struggle along with the struggle of not being technical. Later I figured out that being non-technical was the biggest strength. As a product person, when talking to engineers I couldn’t understand a word which forced me to take a lot of udemy courses about Java, nodeJS, etc. My experience taught me that customers come first and coding comes at the latter part of product development. It is not about understanding the technology, it is the attention you pay to what people need that matters the most in product management.
What is your workday like?
I mostly work as a remote employee. My team is all in USA and Taipei. My day starts in the evening when I start attending calls. Every morning, I plan my day prioritizing my work for the given day. I put everything in my calendar that includes dropping my kid, doing crossfit, yoga, etc., So every single thing is planned in my day. In one of the meetup, someone asked me why should life be so mechanical with so many plannings. Why can’t we take life as it comes? Honestly, I have tried where I took whatever life threw me. But the day was literally running me. When you do not have the time allocated to do something, you will do whatever it comes in your way. When you don’t know where to go, you go anywhere. But I literally think planning your day is very important. I believe that if you plan your day before, subconsciously your brain works out the plan and keeps the ideas ready.
Can you share your experience managing fraud, disputes and your recent experience in Healthcare?
It is one of my favorite projects, Dispute Management. When I became a product manager, I became a disputes product manager. When a customer is unhappy, how can you make that customer happy? It was a beautiful problem statement any product manager can get. When you buy something online if the customer is happy they are not going to talk about it, but if they are unhappy, they want the whole world to know about it. Your customer service agents are burnt out along with a reduction in brand loyalty and value. People see this as a problem. But if you make them a happy customer, they are going to be loyal and advertise our product to their family and friends by being an advocate for our product. I was listening to a lot of customers, customer service agents around the world in US, Malaysia. They are entering their credit card details and how to build trust among customers by handling fraud and disputes was my primary goal as product manager. In India, I always felt customers are behind cash backs, offers, coupons etc., But that changed my perspective when people spoke about trust, safety, and security when it comes to money. I think of myself as a customer resonating with customers.
In healthcare, the customers range from people of different ages living in both urban and rural parts of the world where you don’t know so well about your customers. In healthcare, it is more than understanding the domain, it is all about customers and how we can bring healthcare for all.
How did you get into Healthcare from Fintech?
I was in Fintech for 7 years. I wanted to explore something where I am not comfortable at all. But I was not actively looking when this role came to me. When I spoke to them, the problem that they were trying to solve interested me. Payments made by customers in fintech vs healthcare are completely different. Customers paying for online purchases are pretty happy about their payments but it is not the same in healthcare. You cannot penalize customers not able to pay for their healthcare. It was in fact very new domain coming from PayPal. People felt it was crazy to move out of PayPal. But I wanted to try different things. If I am not ready to take a risk at this age, I am never going to do it in my 40’s or 50’s. I really enjoyed the journey, different types of people and their ideas and perspectives. I am glad I made the move.
What are the differentiating factors in Fintech Vs Healthcare industry?
Fintech is a different animal than Healthcare. You don’t want to make your patients feel bad and force to make a payment. Also, healthcare in US is different than in India or Canada. In Fintech, you can think transactional. But in healthcare, you have to constantly think about serving patients, providers along with insurance companies.
What is your take on managing AI products?
AI in healthcare is going to bring monumental changes to our society. AI in marketing is good, AI in chatbot is good, but AI in healthcare is a game-changer. An organization called CAMBIO developed a clinical support system for stroke prevention which was phenomenal. I have been reading a lot about Coalai, which has a digitized device to detect heart diseases.
In eCommerce, predicting an abusive buyer by measuring how many times they have claimed false disputes, AI can potentially save the seller’s time and energy by avoiding abusive customers.
What is your take on AI and its future?
I think the future is already here. Apart from medical services, there are a lot of activities that go behind like hospital admittance, how to use medical devices and follow-up on patient’s inquiries.
I personally feel customer service is a stressful job. How about we give them a job which is much easier. There are different kind of customers with different mood swings calling customer service every day with different requests and complaints. AI reduces a lot of operational costs for companies that struggle with operational maintenance.
How about we bring more and more AI system which will also help product managers when they want to develop a feature. How about we bring in more AI system where customers are made aware automatically when new features enhance any product. Think of it like chatbots, where people don’t even have to call customer service.
AI is not here to take over our jobs. It is a funny statement. When computers came into existence, people thought computers were going to take over their jobs. In fact, computers gave us improved and better lifestyles. People who have a growth mindset, who wants to learn are always in a good place. You have to understand what is AI even before complaining about it. Understand how AI is going to enhance your life. If you figured that out you can do whatever you put your mind towards.
What is your advice for Product Managers venturing into AI?
It is not like product managers venturing into AI as a separate category. Every single product manager whether you are managing SaaS or enterprise-level product or migration product or growth product, you have to understand what AI can do to enhance your product and your customers. People say that you don’t have to use AI if not required. But have you ever tried, have you ever thought about how your problem can be solved automatically by employing AI. You just need to explore how somebody in different parts of the world is approaching the same problem and employing AI to solve it. Having a growth mindset and understanding how AI can solve your problem is all that is needed for being a successful product manager.
What is your advice for women in product?
When I see my community like women-in-product, I always have the tendency to help each other. I think I had the right set of people I met at the right time for my growth. Reading books opened lot of doors that you are not even aware of. If you want to learn, nobody can stop you. Whenever I meet young women, there are lots of stories about struggle and hardship. There is no ROI without an I. Investing in yourself, spending quality time and enhancing your knowledge should not be considered as an expenditure but a valuable investment on yourself for your future. You chose what you want in life and move forward.