Product Talk is a podcast series produced by Products That Count that drives product conversation through elevated discussions with leaders of the product community. This week is part of a series of deep dives about senior positions. Credit Karma Product Director Christina Lucey sits down with GoodRX Sr. Product VP Ravi Dev to discuss the role of Head of Product.
Relatively speaking, product management is fairly new as a craft and a discipline, with Product only recently joining the C-suite. In fact, studies show that most product managers have been in their role for less than two years. With that being said, it’s pretty remarkable to find a Head of Product with a full career that actually began in Product. Ravi Dev joins the Product Talk Podcast to share insights on versatility and execution in a senior role, and what it’s like to be a veteran product leader.
On discovering product early on
In the new, digital world, changing industries can happen two or three times in a person’s career. In fact, if you ask around among product leaders, you’ll find that many actually arrive in product management through a bit of a roundabout manner. It’s not uncommon to find product leads with distinguished careers in design, engineering, or even brand marketing. That’s why it’s incredibly interesting to meet a Head of Product who found the discipline right out of college. Ravi speaks with our host, Credit Karma Product Director Christina Lucey, on what it was like to be captured by Product from the very start.
“I came to know product somewhat by chance. I got an internship at Paypal and was really just amazed at how dynamic the role was. It was really clear to me that product broke down into three areas, which actually maintains to this day. Essentially, it’s part strategy, part execution, and part consulting.”
“It goes back to the versatility of the role. You can spend the morning going through a discussion about the future of the product. Then, you go straight into a meeting about metrics, and maybe that transitions into something about process. At the end of the day, there could be a technical discussion. These can all happen within one day. So you have to be able to understand a bunch of different things at every level of product.”
On the role of Head of Product in different organizations
The part a senior product leader plays in a company will vary widely across different organizations. Every imaginable factor will affect the responsibilities of the role, be it the industry, company size, or digital maturity. The expectations, then, may not match reality. Ravi speaks on how rudimentary disciplines and cross-team knowledge aids in his role as Head of Product.
“I think the expectation in more senior roles is that you’re doing more strategy, and I think that’s a common misconception. Now, there are versions of the role that definitely require more of that thinking. However, in a lot of ways the Head of Product is really about trying to execute as efficiently as possible. So, I would say the reality is that, if you don’t get the execution right, the strategy doesn’t matter anyway.”
“The advice I would give to any aspiring product leader is to get really good at executing. Execution always sounds kind of lame, but it’s actually quite interesting, right? Execution is hiring. It’s the staffing, and who you’re putting on what project based on what skills he or she has. Also, it’s communication across the board, and aligning everyone around what the company’s doing, specifically product. Not to mention building culture and creating empathy within the entire company. I would bucket all of that into execution.”
About the speaker
Ravi Dev is a distinguished product leader currently serving as the Senior VP of Product at GoodRX, where he extends price transparency across healthcare verticals. Possessing a passion for people and deep understanding of front and back end design, he previously drove product development at Clutter as Head of Product. In his early career he cut his teeth at major players like Paypal as Senior Product Manager, Tapjoy as Product Lead, and Fox Sports as a Product Manager. In addition to his leadership roles, he has provided product mentorship as a Resident Mentor with Start-Up Chile, and holds a B.A. in Economics, Statistics from University of Michigan.
About the host
Christina is a product leader with a passion for crafting. After six internships and four years studying computer science at the University of Waterloo, she found product management. After a few years of building a foundation in execution, she launched her first product at BlackBerry in 2011. Since then she been hooked on crafting new digital things ever since. Her efforts on growth and mobile helped propel Yammer towards acquisition. Following that, Christina headed up product at early stage companies twice. Currently she’s at Credit Karma where she is the leader for new product initiatives. When she’s not crafting products or podcasting, you can find her reading, cooking, working on her fitness, or channeling her inner Martha Stewart.