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Breaking into the world of product management

John Wood
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Last editedJan 20233 min read

Last summer, we were in the fortunate position to host three interns in our product management function. They had just finished the first year of the MBA programme at London Business School and were keen to learn about and break into the world of product management. Each intern was assigned their own role across different areas of the organisation, providing them with the opportunity to gain industry experience whilst also taking full ownership of their own projects.

Two of the interns, Ritika Shand and Aneesha Bahukhandi, shared their experiences of being a GeeCee with us below.

Ritika Shand

As a complete novice in Product Management, I was extremely excited about my GoCardless internship. After hearing from a variety of GC product managers during workshops at London Business School, I was instantly impressed with the company's robust PM function and culture, which carried through to the candid conversations during the interview process. 

Before starting, I had three major aims: 

  1. Explore a career in product management

  2. Learn from peers and leaders

  3. Experience the London fintech scene

What did I do? 

I was assigned to the Data Infrastructure team, where I was in charge of three initiatives at various stages of the product life cycle. 

Prioritisation with BigQuery Replay 

Today, many engineers and data scientists perform manual steps for jobs such as load testing, debugging, and backfilling data at GoCardless. As a solution, the Data Infra team designed the BigQuery Replay feature, and I was tasked with leading the implementation. I was able to validate and prioritize features through user interviews, define how we measure success, and lead communications with stakeholders while supporting an engineering intern through the project. As my first project, it taught me how GoCardless operated and the value of collaboration among the tech lead, engineering manager, and product manager.

Prototypes and Testing with Data Catalog

Data Catalog is a dashboard that helps connect data consumers and generators, as well as reduce time to data discovery. Since this project was close to launch, I conducted user testing of wireframes, analyzed user interactions to determine future enhancements, and developed measurements for engagement post-launch. As a feature with a user interface, this provided exposure to a different area of product management and rounded out my internship experience. 

Problem Discovery with Orchestration

Given a blank slate, I was tasked with analyzing GoCardless's data orchestration in order to improve data reliability and engineering speed. From understanding who the target customers are and learning about their challenges through user interviews to framing the problem through opportunity trees, this project gave me a chance to shape the opportunity space. My two main takeaways were to always be curious and to take a customer-centric approach!

Women in Product 

My internship experience was greatly influenced by the strong female community. I had the opportunity to learn from women at various stages of their careers through PM women dinners, a Women in Product panel on product discovery, and one-on-one conversations. 

Hearing about their successes in boosting stakeholder confidence with data and techniques for handling difficult conversations was extremely inspired! As someone who is extremely passionate about diversity, I felt empowered by meeting mentors and peers who shared my desire for a more equitable workforce.

[en-en] PM intern drawing

Aneesha Bahukhandi

After working for several years as a software engineer at Google & Meta, I decided to pursue an MBA in order to break into product management. Gaining a footing in the product management sector is quite difficult, owing to the highly competitive nature of this sector, especially so for me since I had no prior experience. I had expected to get a comprehensive grasp of this world by shadowing other experienced managers and working on smaller projects. Given the short time of the internship, I had anticipated that my contacts with co-workers would be restricted to my immediate team.

However, my internship exceeded my expectations in every way. I was assigned to a team that creates the product's core payment pipelines and hit the ground running on day one. Working on the project involved collaboration with several teams, which improved my interpersonal and stakeholder management abilities. Whenever I was stuck, everyone in the company was incredibly helpful in terms of technical expertise and assistance. While my project provided me with a comprehensive overview of the world of direct debit, I also ended up being a subject matter expert for a portion of it! As I near the end of my internship, I feel a strong sense of accomplishment and satisfaction in my work. The company also set up AMA sessions with various heads of departments like sales, data science, growth and product design. I believe it takes full-time employees in other companies months to have the kind of interactions I had.

I have learned many useful things that I will take with me. It gave me confidence in my own skills. I've learned the value of an open culture, as well as an active sharing and mentoring atmosphere that empowers all employees. I've seen the advantages of having the freedom to explore a path of investigation and how that influences product choices. I will return to my school having obtained a better understanding of the responsibilities of a product manager in a product team as well as first-hand experience with the abilities necessary. I’ve also gained technical knowledge in the areas of direct debits and A2A payments in general. I'll conclude my internship with a far larger skillset than I started with.

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