Meet Aarti, a Mentor at The Commons and Senior Product Manager at Uber.
To summarize Aarti's career path in one line: Yale undergrad (BA in Economics) → Analyst @ PA Consulting (worked on making utility companies more efficient) → Ops @ Uber (set up fraud and safety processes) → Product Manager @ Uber (focus on reducing rider-to-driver safety incidents).
Describe yourself with 3 emojis
🐈⬛ Proud cat mom
🇵🇪 🇮🇳 Peruvian with Indian ancestry
🍫 Biggest sweet tooth [fyi in case you ever need anything from me ;)]
Current role & location?
📍Senior Product Manager in San Fransisco
You spent your early days in Consulting and then pivoted into a BizOps role in tech. What promoted the pivot?
After working in consulting for more than a year, I realized that no matter how good our final recommendations were, clients could choose to not implement them. I also noticed that even when implemented, changes took multiple months to come to fruition. I’ve always been motivated by having a positive impact, and I did not feel that consulting matched the speed and impact I was looking for.
How did you identify what type of role or industry to pivot to?
I grew up in Peru, where I saw the contrasts between the lives of the rich and the poor every day. I thought that with time I would become immune to it, but I didn’t. So when I decided to move away from consulting, I knew I wanted a job where I could improve people’s livelihoods, and I could not imagine a better place to do it than home.
Searching for roles in tech can be intimidating - how did you find the role?
I was looking for a cool company that touched people’s lives at a large scale, and I also wanted a work environment that was fun and relaxed. My roommate at the time worked at Uber, and I had never seen somebody so happy and excited about their job. She referred me to an Operations role in Peru, and I loved the idea of creating job opportunities for people who the traditional job market left behind.
What was the Product Manager interview process at Uber like?
I had four interviews. First I had a call with a recruiter to discuss the role and my experiences, and then I had a call with the hiring manager where we went through a 30-minute impromptu case. My third interview was a spreadsheet-based case where I had to make decisions for Uber by analyzing the data, and finally, I had a call with the General Manager of Peru.
How has your thinking around career paths changed over time?
As a Development Economics major, I thought that the best way for me to have a positive impact was to work at a foundation, an NGO, or a development consulting firm. However, now I believe that the private sector can have an impact on poverty and inequality that is just as big, especially when lifting people up generates profit.
When pivoting from consulting into tech, what were some things that surprised you?
Work can be fun!
The biggest change for me was wanting to stay at work until late at night because the work was interesting and my coworkers were awesome.
The level of autonomy.
At Uber, we let builders build. My team has complete autonomy over the products we choose to build, and as long as decisions are data-driven, we can explore the craziest ideas.
Tell us about your current role as a Senior Product Manager at Uber!
I’m a Senior Product Manager on the Safety team, where I manage the Identity vertical. My team focuses on reducing interpersonal conflicts between earners and spenders, with the goal of making Uber the safest transportation option.
What's one of the coolest projects that you've worked on?
Project Objective: Improve emergency response when a safety incident is happening
Project Overview: In-app “Text to 911” capability. When used, Uber live-shares the user’s location and the car details with the 911 agent so that emergency personnel can get to them quickly
Your Role: Defined the problem and approach we wanted to take, in addition to coordinating with external stakeholders to bring the product to life
What made it so interesting? Even though we all know we can call 911, not everybody knows that they can text 911 as well. I love this product because it gives drivers and riders an opportunity to get help discreetly, without escalating the situation, as nobody else in the car needs to know that they’ve reached out for help. In another life, I would have loved to be a lawyer or a detective, so the use of technology to solve crime and save lives is super rewarding - especially for a Law & Order fan!
What advice would you give to your former self at the beginning of your job search?
1. You don’t need to do what all your friends are doing
2. Look for a role that you’re excited about, a team that is smart, and a manager who’s supportive
3. Explore roles and companies you’ve never considered but are curious about - you might just find your dream job
And now, a few of your favourites:
🎙Podcast: Serial (an oldie but a goodie)
📰 Where you get your daily news: The Morning Newsletter by The New York Times
🎤Favorite artist: Stromae
📚Book: A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder series
🎨What you're doing outside of work: Pilates!
🌟 A leader you admire: Sachin Kansal (VP of Product Management at Uber)
💬An inspiring business quote: Done is better than perfect
➕A handy shortcut: “Tab” on Gmail to auto-fill your sentences with the suggested words
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