Access to quality education is often based on socio-economics and where someone lives. Through her role as the senior director of product at Macmillan, Neha Taleja leads start-up products and digital innovation tasked to address challenges related to higher education such as affordability of learning materials, retention and students’ success.

She is also one of the five members of the Products That Count Awards Advisory Board, along with Christina Lucey, Laura Burkhauser, Anthony Atlas, and Britt Myers.

Related: Products Awards Advisory Board member Laura Burkhauser on collaboration

Digital Innovation & Being A Part of the Awards Advisory Board

After the first Product Awards in 2019, I have been part of the awards celebration and extremely eager to understand why a particular product was selected over the other. I decided to join the Awards Advisory Board so that I could be involved in the selection of the 2020 Product Award winners.

The 2020 invite-only ceremony includes five main categories, with 19 awards to be given. As someone who constantly thinks about digital innovation, this is extremely intriguing to me.


Related: Spotlight on Britt Myers, GameClub’s COO, Awards Advisory Board member 


I started talking to the people who were part of the previous board. As I learned about the process, I thought it was fascinating! The Awards Advisory Board was working to understand the jobs that product managers are trying to accomplish with these products. 

After learning about this process, I felt that I had an opportunity to add value to the conversation. I thought about how we could become more mindful of the way we evaluate those tools. For example, there may be different needs for different teams. The factors that make a good product may change depending on your role. There’s some enticing and effective product marketing around these products, but objectively evaluating what the needs of your team are is essential. 

Digital Innovation & the Products Advisory Board Role

As an Awards Advisory Board member, I evaluate products on their ability to help Product Managers design great products. These products and solutions help capture user pain-points and solutions that help ideate on the solutions toward these points.

What does that mean?

During the process of digital innovation, these products help you collaborate internally and help you build and share prototypes. Because this is a standard process for product managers, there are various stages where you need a product to assist you to progress from one stage to the next.

There are so many tools out there that help product managers design great products. Because of this,  I’m so excited about the challenge of reviewing them. 


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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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