Rohit Ninan

Product Manager
@
Insight Timer

What was your journey to joining your current company?

After graduating from uni I knew exactly two things.
1) I didn’t want to work for the big 4 and
2) I wanted to work at a tight knit company where I knew everyone in the office 

With this broad remit, I started applying for a number of jobs in a variety of different fields. I was in my final year of university and had completed a total of 0 internships which meant I didn’t really have any prior experience to draw on when it came to knowing what I was looking for in a company. My plan was to get a job at any company, figure out what I liked and then work my way from there. 

I ended up managing to land an SDR role at GoTo (formerly LogMeIn) a B2B SaaS company which sold online collaboration tools. Although the company had 4000 employees, the Sydney office had around 60 people which meant I had a group of people I’m still friends with to this day and more importantly I wasn’t in the Big 4. 

This job ended up being one of the best decisions I made, I loved working in tech & taking advantage of the perks that came with it. But eventually, sales got boring. Making 40-50 calls per day & talking to marketing managers all day became a drag so I decided it was time for change. My only criteria for my next job was that it had to be in tech. 

I learnt about Product Management from a complete stranger at a party I went to. He explained that he got to talk to users and helped drive what features their company built. I immediately resonated with that and thought it would be an interesting career to pursue. I applied to companies that very night and was super grateful that Insight Timer saw some potential (despite having no experience) and decided to take a chance on me. 

What about it makes it your dream company?

Insight Timer is a wellbeing and meditation app which has 24 million users and 15,000+ teachers. If you’re looking for a diverse mental health platform which is primarily free, then Insight Timer is your best bet. Working for a company whose mission is to truly help people and meet them where they are, means that employees truly care. This culture permeates through our co-working space and it means that my colleagues are super easy to get along with as we all have a shared purpose. 

What stands out the most about the culture? 

The culture is great. We have a small team of about 70 employees who are very passionate about the work that they do. The great thing about Insight Timer is: 

Hybrid Work: We are distributed all around the globe and are primarily remote. For the people in Sydney, we often come in once a week and go for a swim in the morning before settling into our day. 

Flexible Working Hours: Since our company is global, we’re encouraged to work flexible hours based on the needs of the team.

The diversity: One of the values we have is ‘diversity is in our DNA’. Being a globally distributed team means that people have extremely diverse views on problems which means that solutions we come up with are extremely creative. 

How would you describe your role to a 5 year old?

As a product manager I help decide what features we build to help users build a meditation practice. I do this by talking to lots of different people. Once we decide on what we should build I work with designers and builders (engineers) to help it come to life. Just like a builder improves a house, I help build and improve apps. 

What does your day-to-day look like?

Depending on the stage of the product development process, my day today can look extremely different. In the morning I will check our dashboards to see how the previous features we released are performing as well as monitoring our OKR charts. I’ll then read app reviews & user submissions to keep my finger around the overall user's feeling of our app. 

After that I’ll have standup with my development squad and a number of meetings with key stakeholders. These include the C suite as well as data teams. We’ll discuss upcoming projects and strategy in order to maximise both user and business goals. 

What does career progression/promotion look like for you?

Product Management is a fairly new discipline and as such the progression is often unclear and is extremely dependent on the company. For example, someone who is Head of Product at a startup will move to a larger organisation such as Google and their title will be simply, ‘Product Manager’. So it is important to not place too much emphasis on your title but rather focus on developing your area of responsibility. 

However there are a few good rules of thumb when it comes to your career progression as a product manager. The most common entry point for people looking to get into product management is through an Associate Product Manager (APM) program or role. Here you will have little to no ownership of a specific product but will help assist more senior product managers. You often will be an APM for about a year before you progress to a Product Manager (PM). 

This is where you start to gather data to come up with ideas for new products and features including curating ideas and deciding which ones are worth working on. Often at times you will stay as a PM for between 2-4 years before you progress to a Senior PM. 

Senior PM’s are defined by their deep product and market knowledge along with their excellent communication with all stakeholders as well as their ability to effectively communicate product strategy to relevant teams. 

After 3-5 years as a Senior PM you can decide to become a Product leader (Head of Product) or stay as an individual contributor (Principal Product Manager). 

For someone considering joining your company, what are 3 things they can expect?

  • When joining a tech start-up you need to understand that resources will be limited and strategy pivots quickly. You need to be adept at working in chaotic environments with little help or direction. There isn’t really a playbook, which is exciting because you can create your own. But understandably, this lack of structure isn’t for everyone. 
  • Start-ups are for people who prioritise velocity of learning. The great thing about working in an early stage tech company is that you learn twice as much, ten times as fast. 
  • Finally your role will often include things that you perhaps didn’t sign up for. Because startups are scrappy you need to get your hands dirty to work on things that need to be done. I love this, as it means I get a breadth of experience. From copywriting to data analytics, I’ve done it all!

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