Product Managing Life: Interview with Karthik Patil – Senior Product Manager at Pivotal and Speaker at PMF Europe 2019

Written by Published in Interviews, Product Management

How did you start in Product Management? And any tips to those striving to start in this field?

Growing up I loved technology and understanding how things work. I was always taking things apart, trying to fix them, and putting them back together. When I was in college, I knew that I wanted to do something related to business and technology. 

After learning about a new growing role called “product manager” I was hooked. I knew that’s what I wanted to do.

Luckily my first job after college was as an associate product manager. For those striving to start in the field I would tell them that you don’t need a title to start learning product management and even leading products. 

You don’t need a title to talk to your users, find out what they want, and then recommend plans on how to grow a product.

Most new product managers I work with come from either a business or data analyst role, but I think anyone can make the transition into product management if you’re willing to put in the effort! Feel free to get in touch with me if you need advice on how to get started in product management. 

What’s the most challenging situation you’ve encountered as a Product Manager so far?  

The most challenging situation I’ve encountered as product manager is saying no to an executive at a multi-billion-dollar company.

The executive wanted the feature a certain way but based on my designer and I’s research we knew that wasn’t what users wanted. To break the tie, we each pitched the CEO on our idea. We went back to our research and data and created a compelling and objective story on why we need to do the feature differently, and we ended up going with our solution!

What do you love about Product Management?

What I love about product management is being able to be a generalist. I’m a curious person and love learning new things and identifying patterns. Working in product lets you take ideas from different practice areas, industries, and products and combine them to come up with a creative solution. 

The sky is the limit and you’re only limited by financial resources and the creative power of your team!

You also work on quite a few side projects, are there any lessons you brought from those to your Senior PM role or vice versa?

I’m always looking at ways to connect the dots between what I do during my day job and what I do with the rest of my time. I’ve had the most success when bringing product management principles into other things that I’m working on. For example, thinking lean, thinking iteratively, coming up with an MVP, etc. 

It just makes sense to start small with what you’re working on, measure success/failure, and then iterate from there. Recently, I’ve noticed that I’ve even started to product manage my life ha!

My goals follow essentially a roadmap and I’m forcing myself to estimate complexity/effort and prioritize them. It sounds silly but it works for me! Hopefully I don’t take it so far that I start scheduling daily standups with my friends and family!

You are part of the Global Shapers initiative by the WEF. Could you tell us a bit about this initiative and your role there?

The Global Shapers Community is a network of young people driving dialogue, action, and change. Through this community I meet with my fellow Dallas Shapers and we come up with creative ideas to solve local issues. A recent solution we led was a panel to discuss how to bridge the middle skills job gap in Dallas, Texas.

As the world changes and technology moves faster and faster, I think it’s vital that we think about the far-reaching impacts of our progress and ensure they are inclusive.


As part of this I’ve been really interested in the fourth industrial revolution and the ways that it will disrupt the status quo. With the resources given to me by the WEF as a global shaper I’ve been able to think how the lines are blurred between physical, digital, and biological and what we can do as product managers to innovate and help this revolution proceed in a sustainable way. 

Meet Karthik and other inspiring product leaders at PMF Europe 2019 on the 13-14 Nov in Zurich.

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