Vivek Bedi is the Head of Product at LearnVest. He has over 15 years’ product management experience, working for companies like Goldman Sachs, Sterling Backcheck, and now LearnVest. In his presentation, talks about LearnVest, the role of a product manager, and what he’s learned from his years as a product manager.
A Great Product Manager
Vivek believes a huge part of being a product manager is being a strategic thinker. A product manager, he says, needs to have a vision and roadmap. He also likes to refer to product managers as storytellers. Telling your product’s story is a great way to sell it to potential clients.
An Awesome Product Manager
Creating a great product means understanding and keeping up with the changing tech industry. It means understanding the details of your product, and appreciating how those details came together to form your product. It also means treating your internal tech team as key partners, just as the rest of your team is.
Vivek has learned that while being technical empowers you as a product manager, you are not responsible for building the technology. You are a partner and voice for the people who do build it. You need to make yourself relatable and available to them, but you can’t forget about your other responsibilities. You need to understand the technology, but you need to let your technology team build the product.
Products at Big Companies
Goldman Sachs is a 35,000-person company. It has built products in trading, social media, video communications, and text notifications. Vivek noticed a divide among the staff when he worked there. The millennials wanted to change the way they built products, while the senior bankers did not. Around 80% of Goldman Sachs’ revenue comes from the senior bankers.
This was a challenge for Vivek, because he had to build communication networks for the company. He transferred the entire company to a cloud-based video chat system, over one weekend. To do this, he had to have a very deep relationship with the technology team, and he had to overcome concerns from Goldman Sachs’ head of compliance that someone could record the chats and share them, even though security infrastructure was in place. Vivek says this why having perspective is very important – you need to understand others’ point of view, while also convincing them that the future is not scary at all.
Products at Startups
Vivek currently works at financial technology company LearnVest, a startup which aims to educate clients on investing. Vivek has learned a lot from working at a startup. He says details and specifications are very important, but startup teams work on the fly and are very ambitious, and they often overlook the details. The engagement process, including user stories and wireframes, is also very important.
You’re building products to create and change experiences, and to connect people together, he says. Often, those experiences are more valuable in person.
Finally, Vivek has learned to be flexible. Not all tech teams work in the same way, so you need to learn to adapt to their needs and styles. In order to be successful, you need to be constantly building, refining, and rebuilding.