Conversation with Pankaj Pilaniwala – Senior Product Manager at Octopi

“You are not the manager of Engineering team but you manage their work” – Pankaj Pilaniwala

Pankaj Pilaniwala

Senior Product Manager

Octopi Commerce

Pankaj is the senior product manager at Octopi Commerce. He has 6+ years of Product Management experience. He is a collaborative and data-driven leader with experience in digital commerce, program management, product management, product vision & roadmap, data analysis, machine learning and product innovation.

He likes solving real-world problems for users and providing the best user experience by creating empathy using design thinking.

He is passionate about building intuitive products and leveraging his skills to solve real problems using technology.

Podcast Notes

How did you get into product management?

Pankaj started his career as APM. He did his engineering and MBA and was campus recruited for the role. At that time, PM was not that sought after role. He learned a lot from his manager about PM.

How challenging it was to get into PM post MBA?

He read a lot about PM and got to know what to do and how to do things as PM.

How to prepare for PM interview?

Read online blogs, technology articles and how products are designed.

is MBA mandatory to get into a PM role?

You dont need specific degree but need to showcase your skills. MBA is a good start. PM is not only about digital products so you need to analyze products from financial model perspective. You need to have sense of financial and marketing perspective as well. You also need to talk to customers and require organization skills.

His likes and dislikes about PM

He likes being involved in various stages like design, engineering etc. You need to be ahead of the competition and this drives him.

Sometimes things fail despite working and you feel that you are answerable to stakeholders. Managing expectation is tough.

How to work with engineers?

Personal dynamics and composition of team matters a lot. You are not the manager of engineering team. You manage their work.

How do you prepare yourself for growth?

Read books about new product management and technologies. Read blogs and listen to podcasts. Twitter is a gold mine and follow the right people and tags.

What tools and apps do you use?

He uses JIRA, Slack, email and UI/UX tools like Balsamiq, Invision.

Any advice to new or aspiring PM’s

Keep hustling and keep building good products. Leverage data to build products. Don’t get into this field for wrong reason and not because of title. Get into only if you want to build good products.

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