A Perfect PM Candidate!

Baby Manisha Sunkara
5 min readOct 20, 2021

This story is to assess the skillset for a Product Management Role.

Image is taken from https://www.shutterstock.com/

I’m working in the Software Industry since 2014, In all these years I have been in different roles from an Intern to an Engineering Manager where I'm responsible for Elobarating the requirements given by PM, writing technical solutions for the requirements, developing POCs, End-to-End Products delivery, and managing 10+ size people team, etc.

Now I’m thinking to step up my career as a Product Manager. While I'm looking for qualities of a PM or what do companies look for in PM candidates, I have understood that like any other role, the background of the “perfect” PM varies across companies and even teams, but usually has the following attributes:

• Leadership

• Analytical & Data Skills

• Technical Skills

• Initiative

• Product Design Skills & Customer Focus

• Strong Work Ethic

Even many experienced industry PMs will be missing some of these attributes.

(^^ Is what this book says: https://www.coursehero.com/file/19711718/PMHQ-The-Product-Manager-Handbook/)

So now, how can you demonstrate that you have these skills? If you want to be a perfect PM candidate.

For example, a student from a strong school with a major in Computer Science and a strong GPA might get a phone screen just by handing in her resume. Her major shows technical skills and her GPA is a signal of work ethic. However, her resume would be even stronger if she had launched a programming contest on campus. That shows initiative.

Although some of these attributes sound “fluffy,” they can all be demonstrated through concrete actions.

Here I just want to show myself as an example for better understanding.

Leadership? Become a president of a club or lead an organization.

  • I used to be class representative in most of my student life, at that time I used to think being a CR is fun, special, you can get some attention from teachers and other students, etc. But trust me that is one of the super painful jobs if you don’t know how to manage people and get the unity across all students in the class. But slowly I have learned the tricks and got used to. By being a CR I have learned how to step up, lead a team, tackle with different mindsets, motivate them and get the job done. I always feel being a CR in my student days really helped me to grow my career from an Intern to an Engineering Manager.

Analytical/data skills? Quantitative coursework (computer science, math, physics, economics, etc) can demonstrate you know your stuff here.

  • I took Maths, Statistics, Computers as main subjects in my graduation there are some unplanned reasons (Can be skipped for now), So technically I have some knowledge in Descriptive statistics which can be used to summarize the data, either numerically or graphically, to describe the sample. Inferential statistics is used to model patterns in the data, estimates of numerical characteristics (estimation), forecasting of future observations, descriptions of association (correlation), or modeling of relationships (regression), etc. With this knowledge, I used to analyze the customer data to find out how customers are using the application, at what time, in which features they are more interested and other activities which can help the company to understand what to focus on next.

Technical skills? A Computer Science major or minor will do the trick. Or you can learn to code and list some projects you’ve done on your resume. Or, even if you don’t know how to code, you can at least maintain your own website.

  • Though that there are more numbers but statistics asked me to stick between the 0 to 1 probability range. I took it very seriously and loved it being a person who writes 0 and 1 so did the Masters in Computer Applications ;) I did a couple of projects in my post-graduation as a hobby and understand how things works, which helped me to analyse different use cases, eventually write bug-free code in less time in the early days, so I get a chance to explore new things which helped me to understand the end to end-use flow, design the solutions and guide others.

Initiative? Do some side projects for fun. Launch a club. Organize a school-wide volunteer effort.

  • As mentioned above I did a couple of projects in my Masters which helped my classmates, juniors to understand the curriculum, exam patterns, share the books, and exchange other useful information through a portal which is still up and visited by 200+ students every week. I have also been a co-founder for a storytelling academy named “Katha Patasala” for 2+ years and now acting as a voice artist by doing podcasts.

Product Design skills/customer focus? Focus on creating a beautiful application — and provide screenshots on your resume. If the aesthetics of application design aren’t your thing, get a friend to help you out with it, while you focus on getting a feature set that really addresses your user’s needs.

  • Being a UI / UX developer is one of my favorite jobs. There I got a chance to understand the importance of keeping customer focus in mind, how to make things easy for customers by closely working with UI / UX designers and talking to them as a user/customer first & developer next provided me an opportunity to try & explore new designs and use cases which motivated me to design some features for some of the internal applications in my previous organization and collect the feedback and monitor the end-user experience very closely. BTW — I have designed my portfolio on my own, you can check that out here. With this experience and confidence i usually act as a designer for all my personal and opensource projects also helps my friends nd colleagues when they need any help in the designing.

Strong work ethics? A good GPA, a bunch of projects, or basically anything difficult that you’ve been successful in shows work ethic. One student listed on his resume that he “completed 62 miles of a 100-mile ultra-marathon, after getting injuring ankle on mile 30.” This might not have been the most medically sound decision, but it did show perseverance. (Yes, his interviewers asked about this!) He’s now working his butt off as a PM for Apple ;)

  • Though I have a 9.2 GPA in my master’s, I didn’t participate in any marathon like him. So the only way to prove that i have good work ethics is with all the above points and maybe with some references (if needed). Intern to Engineer Manager in 7 years is not an easy thing without all the above qualities, dedication, work ethics, focus, mainly the trust & opportunities I got from my managers/employers, and co-operation from family, friends, colleagues are unforgettable.

If you like it and think I'll be the best fit for any opportunity that you know which can help me to step up as a PM please feel free to contact me here.

Hence Proved!

Thanks

BabyManisha.Sunkara

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Baby Manisha Sunkara

I am a front-end developer located in AP, India. I have 9+ yrs of professional experience in developing small to large-scale websites and web-applications.