In conversation with Arun Varghese, Product Manager at Insta Health Solutions Pvt Ltd
Please tell us about your professional & academic background. Can you also brief us about your role in your current organization?
After my schooling, my interest in Engineering and Healthcare led me to do a B.Tech in Bioinformatics at VIT University, Vellore. But my lack of interest in pursuing a research oriented career led me to take up a job placement offer with Tata Consultancy Services. Placed into a Finance Application Support project amongst hundreds of other colleagues dealing with Mainframes and Data Mining Technologies (Informatica –ETL) monitoring batch jobs didn’t quite excite me and that is when I came across articles on the future of Healthcare IT. I decided to take a plunge into Healthcare IT by first doing a 1 year Post Graduate Hospital Management course at IHMR, Bangalore.
During my second dissertation in early 2010 is when I got involved with Insta Health Solutions and my 3 month project was to set up a Remote Customer Support Team which would solve customer issues/queries and manage training gaps. Insta then a company with less than 20 customers was slowly gaining traction as a cost effective and easy to use/ implement Hospital Management Solution. After the project I joined the Engineering Team as a Quality Analyst where I not only dealt with whole breadth of testing multiple modules but also with advanced Support and Data Migration activities. My passion to explore more about the Healthcare domain led me to apply for a 19 month MBA in Healthcare and Hospital Management with the Frankfurt School of Finance and Management, Germany (in collaboration with HEC, Montreal). The course not only gave me a better understanding of world health systems but also the opportunity to network with students across the globe.
Post my MBA is when I was drafted in to play the role of a Product Manager which also coincided with Insta’s adoption of Agile Methodologies for Product Development. As a Product Manager for a start-up, I often have to wear multiple hats but primarily deal with Pre-Sales, Product Demonstrations, Release Planning, Feature Prioritization, Release Documentation, Digital Marketing activities, Managing Integration with Third Party Applications, Partner Management etc.
Can you please describe what a typical day @ Office is like?
The typical day often depends on what stage of the product release cycle we are in, the level of urgency for a task – be it customer or sales related but as a Product Manager, I often have to haggle between Sales, Support and Engineering. Nevertheless the breadth of activities I am involved in would mean I could probably be involved in working on Release Prioritization, Iteration Level Discussions on a Feature Enhancement, third party application integration, doing a pre-sales product demonstration, solving a customer issue or preparing a proposal.
What has been your greatest product success story? What, in your opinion is the determining factor in the success of a product?
Having been blessed with great mentors in leadership at Insta Health Solutions, the greatest product success story have been certain ingredients which have remained core to the product evolution such as
a) The use of a single version of the product across multiple classes of customers be it a road side clinic or a sophisticated high end hospital.
b) Keeping TCO low by the evangelization for the use of the cloud, centralized database for multi location customers and the use of open source technologies.
c) The usability experience of the product and the single screen philosophy – reducing the complexity of navigation through screens and keeping in mind the end users may not be the most tech savvy.
d) The adoption of agile methodologies to achieve quicker turn around for upgraded release versions.
The weightage of importance for determination of success for a product though would also depend on the business model whether it is mass adoption, enterprise class or mid-market.
What is a typical career path of a product manager in your industry? And what are some of the challenges associated with this role?
Product Managers are a rare breed since they have to be a jack of all trades, constantly steering the ship to hit the sweet spot of product to market fit, which is indeed a challenge. Getting the buy-in from across verticals – be it Engineering to build the product, Sales to pitch and market the product and for the Support team to find happy customers is a journey that the Product Manager is in for the long run.
That probably explains why experienced Product Managers who have hit the sweet spot of success are the most sought after to replicate that success – for the fund rich – Yahoos and Googles.
Some Product Managers also do find their way as consultants for VC firms to evaluate business plans and mentor funded product start ups.
What personal skills are important for a product manager?
Some of the personal skills that come to my mind are:
a) being passionate about the product,
b) being a good listener, (which involves the ability to assimilate large amounts of information)
c) being approachable (which means throwing your ego out of the window),
d) problem solving and analytical skills – can come in handy
e) people skills – be it a cranky egotistic clinician to a tech savvy CEO
f) and thinking on your feet
Check out these Product Manager jobs on Hirist.com–
Myntra.com – Associate Architect (8-10 yrs)
Indeed.com – Engineering Manager – Product Development – IIT/BITS/NIT (7-10 yrs)
24x7fresh.in – Product Manager (2-8 yrs)
Some more Matter for your Grey Cells
- “Be the ‘friendly monster’ but when required, put your foot down”, says Rajarshi Ray, UX Designer, Microsoft IDC
- “Data scientist is like a storyteller, uses data instead of words to get the point across”, says Rahul Kapil, Data Scientist, Snapdeal
- “We ideate – execute – iterate very fast”, says Arnav Malik, Product Manager, Zoomcar
- “A Product Manager is expected to drive different sets of people towards a common goal”, says Sagar Megharaj, Ex Product Manager, TaxiForSure
- “Usability has to be in the DNA of any project”, says Pragati Kapur, Assistant Manager- Design Research and Strategy at LG Electronics