March 20, 2020 PRODUCT MANAGEMENT

Neha Taleja: Products That Count Crew Members Spotlight with Prezi Director of Product

PTC crew Article Author
Neha Taleja
Macmillan Learning Senior Director of Product

Every month, Products That Count will bring you stories from each of our crew members across the country. This month, the spotlight is on Neha Taleja, our San Jose chapter head and 2020 Product Awards Advisory Board member for the Design stage of the product lifecycle.

We’re lucky to have Neha Taleja as a member of the Products That Count Crew. When she’s not making our community stronger by helping to drive the product conversation hosting events, she’s the brand new Director of Product at Prezi. Congrats to Neha on her new role (and especially to Prezi for hiring somebody so incredible)! She’s also the fmr Macmillan Learning Senior Director of Product on Design.

Neha has a strong passion for envisioning and developing user-centered, delightful products that improve outcomes for users and impact business growth. She has built product teams that are driven by data, empathy and effective cross-functional collaboration which results in products that have lead to purposeful, pleasant product experiences; provided actionable insights to decision-makers; empowered teams to achieve success metrics. On top of that, Neha has also had the honor to contribute to the non-profit sector, bridging access to quality education in underserved communities in over 13 countries.

She loves to travel and lives in South San Francisco to stay close to the airport. 

What’s your favorite product and why?

Product people always have the best product recommendations!

“Pocket is one of my favorite products that I use regularly – The app helps me turn my urge to take a break into reading something meaningful and yet time myself. The app is simple, intuitive, solves user pain points, supports most browsers and helps me actually catch up on reading that I might have skipped. 

I also love its recommendation and discover topics feature helping me explore ideas that I might not have proactively sought after.”

Why does product management matter to you?

Additionally, hearing product people talk about their love of product and product culture makes it hard not to be enamored with it too. Neha Taleja is no different in this regard.

“Thoughtful products create impact, not just for the business but in the lives of several users. The ability to have an impact through meaningful products is what personally drives me. The areas of user empathy, data-driven decision making, creating solutions with innovative technologies, scaling up to deliver measurable value and cross-pollination of ideas from different domains are few areas that continue to fuel my passion for product management. Another area of product management that matters a great deal is the opportunities to learn and continue to sharpen one’s ax that helps us evolve as fun individuals and rockstar teammates.” 

What makes a great product?

This is the type of insight that made Neha invaluable to our Awards Advisory Board.

“Various elements of a product that make it useful, valuable and successful. I believe the leap from good to great products, although a subjective classification, depends on the products’ ability to a) help users accomplish a task with minimal effort and cognitive burden b) delight the user (and the buyer) i.e. spark joy while accomplishing a goal c) be unique yet blend in the users’ journey, stay reliable and easy to understand.” 

What makes a great product manager?

There is no one right answer to the question of what makes a great product manager, but Neha Taleja nailed it if we say so ourselves. 

“Different domains, companies, and cultures have diverse expectations from the product manager role. Versatility in navigating these expectations while envisioning and delivering value through thoughtful product development is key to a product manager’s success, in my opinion. 

A great product manager is curious, a life-long learner who is empathetic with users understands their needs and challenges and is passionate about coming up with solutions that are technically scalable and viable from a business perspective. A great PM is also self-aware, recognizes biases and can objectively combine data, insights and validated intuitive thinking in his/her decision-making process. Another aspect of product managers that I believe is super important is the charisma and affective presence that he/she can bring to the team, helping evangelize the product both internally and externally – one who is a delight to work with!”

What are the blogs, newsletters, books, and resources that you find most helpful?

“Medium has a great repository of articles, curated lists of books, podcasts around product management. In addition to reading Medium, I love the Products That Count podcasts and blogs, Mindtheproduct newsletter, write-ups and blogs from Silicon Valley Product Group, Women in Product Slack community and the networking speaker events by Products That Count.”

About the Speaker
Macmillan Learning Senior Director of Product
Neha is the Senior Director of Product at Macmillan. She is leading a set of start-up products under the institutional group aimed to address challenges in higher education such as affordability of educational materials, retention and student success. She has been building, growing and scaling products in the ed-tech space for the past decade. Her experience ranging from course-ware solutions, student facing applications, to analytics and insights tools for decision makers. She has also had the honor to contribute in the non-profit sector, bridging access to quality education gap in underserved communities in over 13 countries.

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