The Drum's 'Unsung Heroes' series is a celebration of the people in the industry who slog hard behind the limelight for their companies, brands and clients. As they are seldom in the spotlight for their contribution to the success of campaigns, this is their time to shine.
Manjari Sharda, who works as a senior product manager of audience management at PubMatic, based in its New York City office, loves delighting customers. She says nothing beats the feeling when customers repeatedly use her company's product because it helps them be more productive or profitable.
Why is your job important?
As a product manager, I am the voice of the customer for all the internal teams, including engineering, marketing, legal, finance, and sales, that is responsible for the product’s success.
By listening to the customer, I help define the why, when and what of the product that the engineering team builds and work closely with the go-to-market teams to drive product adoption and usage. I continue to get customer feedback to iterate and enhance product capabilities.
What is the hardest and stressful part of your job?
The hardest part of my job is fighting for the limited resources the company has to invest in its portfolio of products.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Delighting customers. Nothing beats the feeling when customers repeatedly use your product, because it helps them be more productive or profitable.
The first thing that comes to people’s minds when you tell them about your job?
People usually either think product managers are mini chief executives for their product or inversely think of them as execution monkeys, responsible for project management.
How would you correct/explain to them what you do then?
To the folks that think of product managers as mini chief executives, I say that while we work with all teams in the organization for the success of the product and are responsible for driving the vision of the product, no one reports to us.
Therefore, in some ways, our job is harder, as we have to get buy-in and alignment from all teams on the product vision and direction.
To the folks that think of product managers as execution monkeys, I say that execution is an important part, but only 50% of the job. The other 50% of the job involves defining the vision and strategy and being the chief evangelist of the product.
Is there anything you want to change in your job?
No, I love every aspect of it, from understanding the customer’s need and working with a cross-functional team, to fighting for resources and delighting customers every day.
Who is someone you want to emulate in your industry?
There are many great product managers that I have learned from, including Steve Job, Reid Hoffman, Dan Olsen and Eric Ries to my current and former bosses Eric Michel and Paolo DiVincenzo.
If you weren’t a product manager, what would you be?
If I wasn’t a product manager, I would be in a customer facing role, as I love helping customers succeed in their goals.