This post is a reflection of Day 2 of Entretech NYC of 2014, a trip and experience I was fortunate to be able to take.

Today’s visits resonated well with me, not only because they introduced us to some very entrepreneurial people (as every other day does), but also because we visited two product-based companies (ooVoo and Google) and chatted with two people were well-experienced in the product management domain.

At ooVoo, it was Rajesh, the Head of Product, and at Google, it was Mike, an SU CS/Engineering alum and interaction designer. With my career interest in product management, I was naturally compelled to pay close attention to what they had to say. I was able to make the following simple, yet powerful and indispensable inferences:

Product = Empathy

A product needs to grow out of empathy for the user – you have to put their needs first. Rajesh illustrated this concept by pitching some ideas for ooVoo features and asking us to vote on them. For example, we discussed having a ‘voicemail’-like option, where users could leave video messages to others who were offline.

While almost the entire group found this feature a must-have, we didn’t feel so optimistic about the next one – an option to “make you look better on video.” Reactions were mixed; some of us wanted it, some didn’t – all for different reasons. Even in this small group, we had so much of diversity in opinions. So from a product standpoint, I comprehended how the product manager really needs to dig deep and understand the pulse of the users.


Mike initially joked about how product managers were manipulative and evil (although in reality I don’t find that hard to imagine), but stressed the importance of good communication. Product managers need to work with people from different areas, as Rajesh very eloquently explained. He works with developers, designers, QA, sales, and other functions to successfully get the product out the door to the customers. On that note, it is important to manage everyone’s expectations and have processes in place to manage them (and the product itself).


With great power comes great responsibility. However, while product people have great responsibility, they have little power. Mike touched upon the need to always stay aware of your team’s progress – because product managers are sometimes the first ones to be blamed if something goes wrong.

He also stressed the need to multitask; such as doing both software development and user experience design. This point pivoted nicely with Rajesh’s advice to study multiple aspects of the product, such as strategy, competitors, and the business – thereby staying at top of the game.


For me, was invigorating to meet some product people in the flesh, as my interactions/learning with so far has been through social media and books. The visit also helped clarify and cement some of my notions of product management. Most importantly, it set the context of products in an entrepreneurial setting – which specifically relates to where I want to take my career.

Are you a product person? Do you agree or disagree with these inferences? Let me know in the comments section below!