To summarize Aritra's career journey in one line: Software Engineer @ Oracle (India and USA) → New York University (NYU) Stern MBA → Product Manager @ Sezzle (Fintech startup) --> Product Manager @ Microsoft (Azure)
Where are you currently located?
📍 Seattle, WA
Describe yourself with 3 emojis 👇
🏃 I ran the San Francisco (SF) Half marathon twice
🧘 I meditate regularly
📖 I like reading books (paper copies only)
What prompted you to want to pivot jobs?
While working as a developer, I enjoyed my conversations with customers and wanted to get involved in the overall product life cycle. That led me to take a few courses in Product Management. Eventually, I did my MBA from NYU Stern and moved to Product Management. I started as a Product Intern at Sezzle and then joined back full-time before moving to Microsoft.
What was the interview process like?
Just like most Product interviews, it was a mix of behavioral, product sense and technical rounds. Don’t worry, you don't need to be able to write code in the technical rounds.
[PS - nervous about tackling a Product interview? We have our very own Product Case Interview Micro Sprint, so you can learn best practices and try your hand at tackling sample cases. We built this Micro Sprint with our mentors who are on interview panels - you're learning from the best!]
How has your thinking around career paths changed over time?
I have enjoyed working as a Product Manager. It is the most fulfilling job I have had so far and makes me confident that this will help my eventual goal to build a startup.
What surprised you during your pivot process?
I was surprised by how much emphasis there is on prior experience in Product Manager roles. The hardest part about the Product Manager role is getting the job.
Advice for someone onboarding into a new role?
Try to meet people and ask them about their experiences. I recommend everyone read the book ‘The first 90 days’.
What’s a business framework that you’ve learned in Product?
I am generally not a huge fan of frameworks but one I have found very really useful is the LNO framework (courtesy of Shreyas Doshi). As a PM, you are bombarded by tasks, meetings, and PRDs. It is almost impossible to get to everything. The LNO framework has helped me manage my time well on the most impactful work.
What are 3 skills you think are foundational as a Product Manager?
1. Product Sense
3. Analytical skills
Advice for managing up in the business?
1. Understand your leadership priorities and motivations
2. Schedule 1:1 with skip manager once a quarter
Advice for someone diving into an ambiguous problem for the first time?
1. Don’t get intimidated to ask for help, most people are looking to help you
2. Break down the problem into smaller parts and solve each part
What is your favorite part about being a mentor?
1. The best part is the community, I get to meet and talk to amazing folks in every sprint
2. I also enjoy learning from the experiences of mentees
3. I feel very privileged to be able to help folks break into their dream roles and learn about product
Anything unexpected from participating with The Commons?
Everyone is very friendly and eager to help each other
Favorite way to stay involved in the community?
The weekly meeting bot
Tell us about your role!
What’s the role and your objectives?
I am currently a product manager in the Azure Kubernetes team at Microsoft. Our team helps build a managed service for enterprise customers to deploy their cloud-native services. Don’t worry if that sounds gibberish, we help customers run their code on Azure in a scalable way! I specifically work on the monitoring side of things - I help customers monitor their workloads better.
Tell us about a cool project you’ve worked on
This is from my experience as a PM on Sezzle
Project Objective: To launch an app on the Shopify Merchant store and onboard merchants
Project Overview: I worked on building and launching an app on the Shopify app store to onboard xx000+ merchants on Sezzle
Your Role: I led the development and the launch of the app. I coordinated the support and rollout of the app to enable smooth onboarding for all merchants
What Made It Interesting? We were on a very tight schedule for the onboarding and at a risk of losing merchants if they didn’t onboard by a particular date! I spent quite a lot of time on calls with merchants helping them set up the app
Most challenging aspect of your role?
The most challenging aspect of my work is how interconnected it is with other products/services at Microsoft. I often ask people for help in other domains
Fun perk of the job?
We get an annual budget to spend on our hobbies or any skills we want to learn
Advice for someone who wants to follow your footsteps
Advice you would give yourself at the beginning of your job search?
Take it slow, the job search is time-consuming! Don’t give up! Try to apply to a curated list of jobs rather than a laundry list of jobs.
What’s one interview tip for someone interviewing for roles like yours?
The behavioral interviews are more important than you think. Reflect on your previous projects at job(s) and curate a list of projects that you think you can speak about
What’s an unpopular opinion or belief you hold about careers?
Life is more than a career! Have some fun while you are at it!
Some fun stuff!
🎙 Podcast: Lenny’s Podcast, Lex Friedman
📰 News: Morning Brew
💻 Tech Company: Microsoft 😀
📚 Book: Zero to One
🌟 Leader: Marc Andreessen
💬 Quote: "No strategy is better than its execution" - Frank Slootman
Two other fun facts
- I like playing squash
- I do intermittent fasting almost daily (16-8)
Interested in product roles in tech? Hone the skills you need to succeed in the Product Sprint, and get 1:1 support from mentors like Aritra!