109. Roshan Gupta: from MIT to Google, the importance of storytelling and the future of tech

In this episode, João was speaking to Roshan Gupta, Group Product Manager at Google.

Roshan has an extensive experience in the software industry, having started as Software Engineer and now working in Product for the past 15 years. After graduating from MIT, he has worked in companies like Oracle, Yahoo, Facebook and Google. Besides being a successful PM, Roshan is also a father, a traveller, and a passionate storyteller.

Time notes:

[0:15] Introduction of Roshan

[0:55] The story of moving to Lisbon from the USA, travelling with kids and falling in love with Portugal

We travel a lot and the perspectives you get really broaden your thinking.

[5:53] Portuguese tech and startup ecosystem

[8:00] Ambitions and a master plan for the career

My love for technology has always been there.

So much of the job as a PM is relationship building.

[12:28] Experience of working in software engineering and lessons learner

[16:00] Going back to study after starting the career and different perspectives

Having worked in the real world for a year and then going back to do your master’s was fascinating. […] I wish there was a way people had a little bit of perspective of working and then going to school.

[18:00] Job at Oracle and difference with the first job experience.

If Oracle thinks I am so great, then maybe they are great.

I started to get an itch to switch from software engineering to product management.

[22:40] Evolution of work in a team and involving everyone in the decision making

The more you isolate those functions, when it comes to deciding the direction of the product, the harder you make it for yourself later on.

[24:58] Growing the passion for product management while still working on software engineering

Once I was an engineer, I had threatened to leave before they finally gave me a chance to be a product manager. It was a tough path.

[29:25] Learning to become a good PM and defining a product manager role

You will get a lot of questions. And it is your job to route them to the person that can actually reply to them the best.

People have to realise that product management is more than just a strategy and directing where things go.

[39:00] Dividing time for different roles of product manager

You help them [new employees] understand why they’re doing what they’re doing and why it matters and their role in it.

[48:28] Balancing being available with managing to do everything there is to do

It’s not about the quantity of time, it’s about the quality of time.

[52:44] What influenced the change of companies and marriage

[57:00] The impact of organisational changes on day-to-day work in teams

[01:01:53] Landing job at Facebook and doing the homework before approaching them

After Oracle, every job I got was through networking.

The magic ingredient of getting to these companies is to stop looking for a magic ingredient and do the research.

[01:12:18] Moving from Facebook to Google and learning from Marc Zuckerberg

No matter what you are doing you’re adding value to someone and you just have to articulate that.

[01:21:30] The most inspiring leader was the first manager at Zaplet

[01:24:00] Built teams as the best achievement of being a product manager and being an umbrella for the team

A lot of these tech companies are so focused on pursuing the next golden egg, that they destroy the health of golden geese.

[01:29:50] Dealing with ambiguity and developing comfort around it

It is the product manager’s job to drive certainty for a team. But you’ll never be 100% certain.

[01:34:55] The innovation that will come to life that people are not ready to see, fearing innovation and the future of Metaverse

[01:45:05] The best and the worst innovation is the internet

[01:47:30] Importance of networking as a PM

[01:49:50] A skill that no one teaches us is how to frame and create a story as a storyteller

[01:50:57] Coffee meeting with historical figures would be with Benjamin Franklin or Leonardo da Vinci

[01:54:45] Recommendations

📚 3 favourite books:

📕 The 4-hour workweek by Timothy Ferriss

📕 Refuse to Choose!: Use All of Your Interests, Passions, and Hobbies to Create the Life and Career of Your Dreams by Barbara Sher

📕 The Renaissance Soul: Life Design for People with Too Many Passions to Pick Just One by Margaret Lobenstine

🏙 3 favourite cities

Lisbon 🇵🇹

Seattle 🇺🇸

The Bay Area 🇺🇸

PRODUCTION

This podcast was hosted by João Moita from Product Weekend, with sound edited by Miguel Sousa and production help by Productized, André Marquet and Evelina Bogdiun.

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