This week, Product School hosted Anand Arivukkarasu, fmr Product Leader at Facebook, for a special #AskMeAnything session. Anand touches on working as a Growth Product Manager, building people skills as a former engineer, and how to communicate with your tech team.

Meet Anand

Anand Arivukkarasu, fmr Product Leader at Facebook

Anand is VP of Product at Refersion. Before his current role, Anand worked as the Vice President of Product Management and an Advisor at GRIN, and also has three years of experience working as a Product Leader at Facebook.

There he managed the product and growth effort for their messenger business platform and eCommerce including monetization for Instagram. He was part of the team that launched the people-to-business messaging platform and grew the chatbot ecosystem and conversation from 10,000 to 20 billion per month, an accomplishment he achieved in just two years.

He has proved himself as a great team player who is happy to tackle a challenge while maintaining a positive attitude. He is extremely passionate about technology and uses that passion to create product strategies, roadmaps, and competitive analyses that are valuable to his team. He has originated large opportunities for his teams that have allowed them to build revenues in new spaces.

What are your thoughts on low-code/no-code tools?

That is a good question. No code tools really help build quick MVP to test them out. Some of them I have used include Zapier, Autocode on a broader level, and based on the use case there could be more. The general idea is to quickly put something out there to get feedback to build the actual thing.

How often do you review your tool stack ?

I review and constantly understand what are the tools that are available on a regular basis and see which one is more useful. That said, it is not easy to keep changing the tool stack especially if there is a lot of integration work, so only if there is a huge gap that is not addressed with the current toolset, I work to change it within a year period.

stack of donuts

As a Product Manager with both product and growth goals, do you enjoy big companies or small companies/startups better? Pros and cons of each?

Big companies come with a little more stability and predictability and the scope is very defined. Whereas at startups it is very agile and the dynamics can change quite often. I like the adventurous aspect in startups and stability and high impact in big companies. Both are fun.

Check out: The Difference: Being a PM at a Small company vs a Large Company

What one piece of advice would you give yourself in your first PM role, if you could go back and give it?

“Build relationships and develop alignment” is the one thing I would have taught myself as a junior PM. I think the art of building relationships, strong communication, and bringing alignment are important skillsets for a PM. Personally coming from the engineering side myself, I was more about execution and deliverables and then learned how important it is to build relationships and align with the different teams on a constant basis.

Which part of your job excites you the most?

Vision, Strategy, and Roadmap and providing the right clarity to the teams. 

How would you say Product Growth is different to Product Management in general? Is it just that the OKRs are more product focused?

Product Growth is using product thinking for growth aspects without spending much on sales and marketing. How do you use aspects of the product to gain growth?  It is a niche skill set on top of being a good PM.

Read next: Different Types of Product Teams (Core, Platform, Growth, First)

What high level metrics does Facebook use for the majority of their products for engagement/retention?

It varies by the product, its mission, and product category. For example – If the product is information/entertainment-based there are 2 core metrics 1) time spent on engagement 2) deeper engagement metrics on reactions like a combination of likes, comments, shares etc.

woman sitting down with one hand in bowl of popcorn and other hand holding a remote

How do I get better in technology to have better conversation with my tech team?

You can start with understanding the architectural flows of the product. Ask and learn about full-stack architecture and how these interact and work. You should also learn SQL and basic DB querying to directly understand data. How the user flow is connected with the tech flow and the basic system design decisions here.

You might also be interested in: Fundamental Principles of Requirements Engineering: The Key to Product Success

How do you not copy what others are doing when focused on growth?

Don’t too much worry about copying or not, rather understand the narrative on product value, impact, and differentiation for the users to help you think about building great features.

Any final advice?

The key point I would say is to build Product Sense – start looking at every product that is launched or being used with a unique set of eyes thinking about key dimensions like – utility, usability, strategy, and innovation involved, differentiation, integrity, and monetization. This is one skill set that takes time to build and will be very helpful as you become the PM.

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