Salil K – Meet the Mentor

As a product management leader with over 15 years of experience, I got to work with startups, mid-sized companies, and large enterprises to bring new products to market. I have a passion for mentoring and coaching budding product managers, helping them navigate the complexities of the field and build successful careers.

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Why did you decide to become a mentor?
I decided to become a mentor because I believe that sharing knowledge and experience is a powerful way to give back to the product management community. Throughout my career, I’ve been fortunate to work with great mentors who have helped me navigate the ups and downs of the field, and I want to pay that forward. I also believe that mentoring is a great way to learn and grow as a leader. By working with budding product managers, I gain new perspectives, fresh ideas, and a deeper understanding of the challenges facing the next generation of product leaders. Finally, mentoring is a way for me to stay connected to the field and contribute to its growth and evolution. I’m passionate about product management and want to help shape its future by supporting the next wave of talent.

How did you get your career start?
My transition from being a software engineer to a product manager was a deliberate and intentional career move. While I enjoyed the technical aspects of engineering, I was drawn to the business side of technology and wanted to work more closely with customers and stakeholders to build products that solved real-world problems.

After completing my MBA, I actively sought out product management opportunities, leveraging my technical background and business training to position myself as a well-rounded candidate. I started by networking with product managers in my network, attending industry events, and applying to job postings that aligned with my skills and interests.

My first product management role was at a mid-sized company, where I was responsible for managing the development and launch of a new interactive teller product. It was a challenging and rewarding experience, and I learned a lot about the product management process, from customer discovery to product strategy to go-to-market planning.

From there, I continued to build my product management skills and experience, taking on increasingly complex and high-profile projects at startups and large enterprises alike. Along the way, I sought out mentors and coaches who could help me grow as a leader and build my understanding of the broader business landscape.

Overall, my career start in product management was a combination of strategic planning, intentional networking, and a willingness to take on new challenges and learn from my experiences.

What do mentees usually come to you for?
As a mentor, my mentees usually come to me for guidance on a range of topics related to product management. For those who are new to the field, they often seek advice on how to break into product management and develop the necessary skills and experience. Existing product managers come to me for help with career growth, such as how to advance to a leadership role, how to manage stakeholders more effectively, or how to build a strong product team culture. Some mentees also seek my input on specific product challenges they’re facing, such as prioritization, planning, or go-to-market strategy. Ultimately, my role as a mentor is to provide guidance, support, and insights that help my mentees grow and succeed in their product management careers.

What’s been your favourite mentorship success story so far?
It’s hard to pick just one favorite mentorship success story, but one that stands out is a mentee who came to me with a background in sales and a desire to transition to product management. Through our conversations and coaching, she was able to build a strong foundation of product management skills and landed her first product management role at a growing startup. Over the next few years, I watched her grow and excel in her role, taking on leadership responsibilities and driving key product initiatives. She recently reached out to me to share that she’s been promoted to a Director-level role, and credited our mentorship relationship as a key factor in her success. It’s incredibly rewarding to see my mentees grow and thrive in their careers, and this success story is a testament to the power of mentorship and hard work.

What are you getting out of being a mentor?
Being a mentor has been a tremendously rewarding experience for me, both personally and professionally. One of the biggest benefits I get from mentoring is the opportunity to give back to the product management community and support the next generation of leaders. I also find that mentoring helps me stay connected to the latest trends and best practices in product management, as my mentees often bring new ideas and perspectives to our conversations. Mentoring also provides a sense of purpose and fulfillment, as I’m able to help others achieve their goals and make a positive impact in their careers. Overall, being a mentor is a way for me to grow as a leader, stay engaged in the field, and make a meaningful difference in the lives of others.

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