Meet this week’s Humans of Product, Param Lamba, also known as PJ. Param, his beautiful wife Tina and his newborn daughter Misha live in Malaysia and before COVID-19 put a dampener on all activities, he was a very outdoorsy person, spending most of his spare time cycling, road biking or climbing. He has most recently been looking after both his human and the work baby. When reminiscing on how he got into Product Management, PJ shared that it was a really worthwhile and interesting journey.
“I started my career back in 2003 as a Software Engineer and held this role for almost 9 years. I was always interested in solving problems and finding solutions. I eventually moved to Project Management and was running my startup for a while and then decided to move to Singapore where I had to go back into Software Engineering. From there, I moved into consulting which was more client-facing, bringing those inputs back to the product team, and putting a case for the customers on why certain things were needed in the product.
Whilst in this role, I got the opportunity to move into actual Product Ownership and Product Management at the Australian company Janison. They’re based out of Coffs Harbour and I was one of the first hires for the Singapore office. That’s where I got to do proper Product Management. I’ve always loved that aspect of collaborating with the clients, stakeholders and peers, understanding their problems, doing research work on either finding the data to validate those problems or hypothesizing of what a good solution could be. That’s something I am really passionate about and that’s what basically got me into Product Management.
When I moved back to Malaysia from Singapore, I was exploring endless possibilities. I came across somebody through my wife’s network. We started discussing a project implementation for one of their customers and identified that we were working on something which had a potential in the market. It’s a technology platform called VizHub for businesses to digitally transform and level up their after-sales customer service. There was a gap and a good potential for a product like this, so that’s how we came up with this idea. I was based in Malaysia and started off as the Chief Product Officer and 1 of 4 Co-Founders. During our first strategic Summit, my Co-Founders voted me in as the CEO of the company to drive the Product Led strategy!
We are now focused on employing Product-Led techniques for the entire company. I’m still very much involved in the product vision, product design and development but more importantly in translating our core company value – Delivering Impact – to a value delivered through our product. My focus lies on scaling up this startup, bringing it to the next level and making it a household name for B2B customers.”
In life, we are faced with numerous challenges and obstacles that can get in our way. That is the same for anyone working in the Product space. You overcome one challenge and then run into another.
“If I look back at the past 3-4 years, I think the biggest challenge is bridging the gap between the top-level stakeholders who are the decision-makers, and the actual users who see the benefit of the product and who know the pain points much better. Stakeholders are aware of the pain points but usually have a very top-level view of them. Whereas, the users are trying to execute what has been laid out as a process in front of them and have their boots on the ground. I think this challenging gap between stakeholder and customer value is changing however it is still an obstacle to overcome. Largely because a lot of decision-makers look at products and software systems as expenditure and not as an investment. By bridging that gap between the actual end-users and the decision-makers, we are able to form a common value proposition that resonates with both.”
When he is not juggling both fatherhood and the startup world, PJ loves meeting new Product folk and sharing his experience with them.
“Whenever I talk about problems, there are two aspects. There’s a strategic and an execution aspect to it. The strategic approach looks at how you plan and the execution is how you actually implement that solution once you’ve identified it. In this case, the approach I would suggest to other people who are either starting out in Product Management or are looking to grow, is to understand the customer journey. The customer journey helps you determine how the product will improve the customer’s experience.
With a big upward trend in the market, I think a lot of people are getting drawn to Product Management as being a really hot skill. Whenever somebody asks me how to approach Product Management or Product Ownership, I share with them this matrix I have developed called the ‘Path to Product Management’. I want to help people dip their toes and get a feel of what it takes to be a PM. I then tell people to see what resonates with them the most and to make a decision whether it is something they would like to pursue and keep learning. It’s a hot skill and in today’s world, it can pay well, but unlike a profession with defined structures such as engineering or data science, Product Management is something that can cover a lot of unknowns. You need to have that love for the unknown to succeed in Product Management.”
To extend this, PJ has an exciting future ahead in learning, mentoring and growing as a CEO.
“Within the next 3-5 years, my main focus is to scale the startup itself. I’ve taken over the CEO role, but there’s a lot for me to learn in terms of being both a CEO and implementing Product-Led practices. Once you gain traction, scaling up is an altogether different game, so that’s where my focus will be. Apart from that, I really want to get involved with a few mission driven Product communities. I want to continue to be immersed with other Product initiatives, like productmentors.io and Association of Product Professionals, that hold a strong mission and vision to strengthen the Product community.”