Saeed Khan: "Product Management is an obsession!"

Saeed is one of the Keynote speaker who will be joining us at The Product Leadership Day. He has 25 years of experience in Product Management and he has been involved in several start-ups and enterprises in Toronto and Silicon Valley. With this experience, he is able to speak about product management with utmost honestly and clarity which is very beneficial to new and even seasoned product managers. Coming March, Saeed will be sharing with us "Optimizing Product Marketing in your Organization."

Product Managers often have varied backgrounds before becoming a Product Manager. How did you get into Product Management?

Between ’86 and ’97 I did a bunch of different things that ranged from software development, technical writing, consulting, training and more. The first time I saw a product manager was in the company I was doing a contract. It was a software company and he was from Procter and Gamble he was a consumer product manager who they had hired.

I saw what he did and how he took the product. He broke it into different products that were targeted different use cases in and saw how that made a big difference for the company and how they started changing how they were talking about and stuff so it was really interesting to see that. So, I thought, ‘that's cool!’. Then I went to a software company where I was doing training and documentation where we had a product manager, who was not great I mean all he did was follow the V.P. of engineering around. Our software didn't work well with customers and we had all these problems so I thought, I could do a better job than that guy.

I would probably argue with the V.P. of Engineering more too. I realized, I want to be a product manager. I understand technology but I don't want to get technical person. I've done business I've done all these other things.

People often help along the way, has there been somebody that really helped you and how?

Yeah absolutely, when I look back at my first job, it was an amazing learning experience for a product manager because the president of the company firmly believed in product management and he came really understood it and he wanted the product managers to do what product managers should do. We had more responsibility than I've ever had in any other product management job afterwards.

I think looking back in time that broad exposure across finance and all these other areas where you normally don't get involved set me up and I learnt a lot.

How do you do Product management?

I loved it because it was a blend of all the things that I like. There is business, there is technology. I really enjoyed it and then over the years I moved to California and worked there for a while and then back to Canada. I think the secret has been it's something I found finally that I liked in that they just stuck with it and I was fortunate in a way to you know have a succession of reasonably interesting jobs.

Is Product Management a passion?

No, it's an obsession. It’s funny a lot of times I bring things into my life that are from product management. For example, let's make a prioritize list of what we want to do on our holiday. My kids start rolling eyes saying, ‘Awh! Come on, can we have some fun?’ and I’d say ‘No, no, what are the top 3 things you guys want to do?’

What do you see as the most exciting development for Product Management?

I think some of the analytics work will become more mainstream and there will be a lot more data driven decisions. We do have to put more focus on the management and there will be some more standard ways to kind of think about how we manage products.

I think today it's wild west and everyone has to do their own thing. I think there will be more technology involved and maybe we will leverage more technology in doing the management side. So, I think these kinds of incremental changes will be there.

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About Sneha Barman

Background in Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering and Product Management. My professional roles have ranged from a design engineer, product development engineer and product manager where I primarily worked on commercial products to make it market ready. I am constantly curious and intrigued by technological advancements in all areas and the impact it has in the world and our lives. It’s a good era for me to be in!

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