Meet the week’s Humans of Product, Sneha Barman. She’s a Singaporean Product Manager who loves to cook and box in her free time. Sneha found her way into Product after designing a very common product; a hairbrush.
“My first ever job was as an engineer at a startup. In Singapore back then, everyone was trying to join big companies so it was uncommon for someone my age to join a startup. It was called Scientific Innovations Company. It was a startup incubator. There were about five or six different startups under one roof. At the time, I had never heard of Product Management.
I started off designing in Fusion360, and was then given a patent for a hairbrush by a Professor at Princeton. I was given the objective to bring it to life. When I went back to check on my work I realised I had actually followed the correct product management steps. My strategy was very user-centric and as the product started evolving, I evolved with it. At the end of it all, I found that I was basically a product manager.
But at the time, I was never called a product manager. I had many names, but Product Manager, surprisingly, was not one of them.”
Now Sneha is working for a communications platform where she has been able to grow her Product Management skills,
“I’m currently at Rakuten Symphony, and we’re working on developing an end to end communications platform for telecommunication companies to get started on their 5G journey. There are over 50 applications within the platform and I’m taking care of one of those applications.
My application has been really exciting because it required a lot of firsts for me. This is the first time I have worked on a SAAS product as well as a highly digital product. It’s also the first time I have made a digital product from scratch where I have developers create the product natively instead of taking things from existing solutions in the market and putting them together.
It is also the first product that I have worked on that has to be extremely scalable, very quickly. It’s a completely different product management style from everything I’ve previously worked on which has been really exciting.
But it’s very exciting! I would say every product I’ve worked on has its own specific stressors. I always refer to products like babies; no two children are the same just as no two products are the same. Therefore, there’s no one way to handle a product.”
Despite her busy work life, Sneha still finds time to participate in the Product community.
“I remember going to my very first product event in New York in 2015 and it was humongous and you can feel the passion in the room for product management. I have also been to one in Sweden and it was quite different from the one in New York. It’s been a really cool way to experience different product cultures around the world and see how they compare to Product in Singapore. Back then, Singapore didn’t have a large Product community so I was really lucky to be able to see Product thriving overseas early in my career.
My current company is very product-driven, so, I’ve been more involved in internal Product events. Recently, I’ve started to step out more into the community again though! I spoke at a Product Talks, Singapore event last month which was really exciting. And since then, I’ve actually been in touch with people from the event. It’s been great to hear the different perspectives on how people are handling their products and the different methodologies within other organisations are exploring.”
Sneha has also been very fortunate to work on some amazing Products, including one that came in third place at a well-known Product competition.
“I worked on a product called Fashive(Fashion Learning Hive). It was created by a group of veterans in the fashion industry trying to bridge the gap between individuals and the industry.
I was the sole product manager because it’s such a new company and I had the golden opportunity to learn digital product management from start to end. In large firms, you don’t really get the ability to be part of the design and the engineering deeply.
The product ended up coming in the 3rd for APAC EDTECH VENTURE COMPETITION where Fashive was up against 168 other products. It was only a year old so it was a big achievement for us to come in the top 3.”
Also, this really goes to show you can learn any domain on the job if you are willing to do so. Even the sky isn’t the limit for all the possible Product one can work on.”
And Sneha’s number one piece of advice for current and aspiring Product Managers:
”I always maintain this – to join product management; go make your own product. In product, there are times where you have to go with your gut intuition and you can only develop that by making something yourself and understanding the hands-on parts of a product. Go make your own product.”