Sankalpa Sarkar is a Product Lead at Walmart — he has spent over 8 years in the product management profession. Here’s how he got his job in product.
How did you find out about your current job and why did the role appeal to you?
I was reached out to by the company HR team directly as my profile looked attractive to them. The role appealed to be because of 2 reasons:
1. Supply chain disruption is imminent due to ongoing challenges in global logistics
2. I would be able to build products which can actually impact the physical world which wasn’t in my previous roles. As an individual, I like to challenge myself and put myself in the most difficult of situations to solve the hardest problems. I get so much more satisfied when I am able to create value.
Please describe your professional and educational experience prior to this role and explain how it helped you to get your current role?
I have built my bones in the Fintech industry for the last 7 years – from IC to Head of Products. I have built platforms to disrupt the digital payment landscape in the world’s 2nd largest population. I have led the product teams at India’s 3rd largest Pvt. banks (Axis Bank) and at the 2nd largest fintech firm (MobiKwik) as the Head of Products.
I passed from IIM Indore and IIT Dhanbad. Apart from the academic curriculum, the live projects, industry case studies and internships helped me shape my goals and polish my skills. One of the best things I did during my college life was to become aware of my areas of improvement and work towards making them.
Access insights on finding your way in product management without a technical background.
What was the job application process like?
The initial application was a simple exploratory call with my hiring manager and the HR partner. It helped me understand the role and responsibilities, the next steps and the overall career trajectory in alignment with organization goals.
The interview is a 4-5 step process where your knowledge, behaviour, competency and product sense is tested through direct, indirect, situational and case-based questions. The discussions were formal yet friendly and it was via video call due to the ongoing pandemic.
There were assessments during every discussion where I had to solve the case on the go along with whiteboarding or any other tools I preferred. There were role-playing assignments as well which I loved the most.
What are your key roles and responsibilities?
In my current role, I am leading the modernization of supply chain and logistics management. The goal is to become sustainably valuable to our customers by making their lives better. A typical day would include strategizing the next leap, monitoring the current goals and interacting with people to understand their goals to help them scale faster. I have built digital products without much physical presence earlier. However, in my current role, the physical aspect of the product is what I tend to enjoy the most. A typical challenge as a product leader is to prioritize constantly while addressing the growing concerns of an evolving product. I love to overcome these challenges as it serves our customers the best.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced in this role?
The biggest challenge is to gear me up and learn the basics of the supply chain. A similar challenge was to change the product strategy from a reactive one to a proactive one.
What are your key tips on landing a role in product?
There are 4 important aspects to remember
1. Be a servant leader to influence without authority
2. Be a thought leader to be able to celebrate the best and improve the worst
3. Know the basics of the business and the values of the organization
4. Be prompt to ask questions to understand the ask of the interview and also be patient to hear them out. Don’t rush.
How did you get your job in product?
Not all career paths are forged the same. If you would like to share your story about how you landed your job in product we’d love to help you share it. Take this quick survey to get started!