Gautham Muthukumar

Sr Product Manager, Tech @ Amazon

  • What is your experience with shutting down a product or service? What are the key challenges in an end-of-life (EOL) process?

    key things to do while shutting down a product are: 1. capture through surveys or through monitoring tools/metrics to see when and how the product is being used, 2. make sure customer has alternatives for all these features(say through a new product), and if not, inform the customer and get a buy-in, 3. ensure new product is backward compatible and old users can move to new product without having to make changes/learning new things, 4. divert partial traffic to new product and keep measuring the impact without shutting down the old product, 5. if everything goes well, divert full traffic to new product and analyse key metrics, 6. if things don't go well, revert to old product till new product gets fixed 7. Ensure all traffic has moved to New product and old product has zero traffic, 8. keep old product in lights on mode for sometime (just in case) 9. deprecate old product - have a checklist of systems and release all of them and compute savings of deprecating old product

  • In the context of product management, how would you describe “low-hanging fruit”?

    Return on investment. estimate investment, and effort. high values on this metric are low hanging fruits. Just be wary of tech debts that can get created while addressing a low hanging fruit

  • What do companies look for while hiring product managers?

    One needs to peak in two of: product understanding/leadership, program/project management, technical depth. These are high level areas, but one can drill down further

  • What was the hardest decision you had to make as a product manager?

    The hard decision for me is always this - User experience vs speed of development. One always wants great user experience, but that costs speed. Run user experience reviews multiple times till this can be cut down to bare minimum and then start development.

  • What advice would you give to aspiring product managers?

    Product manager needs to be a generalist. Know a bit of everything - tech, business, user experience, project management. As and when required one can go deeper.

  • What was your most successful product as product manager?

    An ML based information retrieval system that allowed our B2B product to scale to 2X without increase in manual effort

  • How did you handle disagreements with key stakeholders, whether engineers, cross-team dependencies, or executives?

    1. Show data and evidence (could even be anecdotes, research papers) for the benefit that would be gained by following the approach that you are proposing. 2. help them see the benefit through visual cues, customer feedbacks, etc. 3. build good relationships to make sure they can trust you. 4. escalate if nothing else helps.

  • What are the biggest challenges you face in the VUCA World?

    From a product building perspective, simplify user experience as much as possible. This could mean a lot of things. Some sample are: 1. older people with less understanding of online applications are using products, so see how it can be made easy for them 2. handle scenarios with poor internet conditions 3. have mobile web experience and apps if your product is website only... many more like these.. You can think on these lines and explore further

  • What type of customer research do you conduct and how often?

    Customer research and feedback is a big part of the process. I do them at different phases while building products. Few common types of research I do are : 1. simple surveys with users, 2. user interviews with specific high value users, 3. wireframing and prototyping to take customer feedback on whether they will buy a product and improvement opportunities, 4. competitor analysis to understand customer feedback/testimonials for their solution

  • How would you describe your leadership style as a product manager?

    Colloborative style, I guess. As product managers we facilitate work and have to often influence without authority. So, it is important that to be able to create good relationships and facilitate work by leveraging these relationships.

  • What is the future of Product Management?

    Product managers need to adapt to newer trends such as ML, AI, IOT, digital trends. we are moving to newer tech and product managers need to get versatile with htese technologies