Rajiv is Sr. Director Product Management, Supply Chain Technology at Walmart Labs. Rajiv and his team are currently focused on building Supply Chain as a Service platform with focus on Transportation, Warehousing and Fulfillment that supports the all the different Walmart Omni-Channel business units.
Rajiv will be a Keynote Speaker at Product Management Festival APAC in Singapore on the 17-18 June. In this interview, he shares more on his professional journey to his current role, the challenges product leaders face and how Walmart Labs works to retain and grow their PM talent.
Our readers like to see how senior product leaders get to where they are. Could you tell us a bit about your professional product management journey?
Rajiv: I started my career as a technology consultant helping large Fortune 100 companies on catalysing their supply chain transformations. A few years into this journey, I realized that my true calling was building products versus just implementing them. I did not think twice before jumping into this exciting profile in creating products that provide a step change impact to multiple businesses versus working with one business or customer at a time.
My stint as a product management professional has been the most meaningful one.
I learnt the art of understanding the entire product lifecycle journey, right from a new product launch to getting the product market fit to its growth and then, progressing into the maturity stage. It was great to learn how to truly manage diverse product portfolios and play a key role in investment decisions. As a product leader, I was able to work with leaders across multiple business units in our own organization and also our customer organizations with an ability to influence strategy, sales closure and actual project execution phases.
Looking at the last few years, I can happily state that I have had amazing opportunities in working for late-stage start-ups and now at this retail behemoth Walmart where I have seen the impact product managers bring in the B2C space.
At Walmart we build products that are so impactful and significant for the business and I have learnt so much. It’s such an exciting experience to see on a daily basis, that the products our team builds and manages has a direct impact on both customer experience and company financials.
Could you share a couple things you love and/or find challenging about your job or industry?
Rajiv: Right now, it is the best time to work in the retail industry! What a transformational journey the industry is undergoing with omni-channel retail redefining customer experiences.
At Walmart I work in the Supply Chain area. There is a lot of scope for platform thinking to create large scale impact by architecting the platforms that enable our supply chain operations team to provide multiple fulfilment options to consumers with a focus on speed, flexibility and reliability. The pace at which we are able to add fulfilment options ranging from – delivery to home, pickup at store or curb side at our scale is very exciting.
Another interesting aspect of working in a large organization where we have more than 275 million weekly customer transactions at our stores and millions more online puts a lot of responsibility on our product teams.
It’s definitely a lot of hard work to ensure that as product leaders, we are taking the right decisions on prioritization, as all initiatives have a large impact but making sure we are prioritizing on the right areas to bring about a transformational change in the way we can serve our customers is very critical.
One of the key findings of our 2019 Trends and Benchmarks in Product Management report reveals that 75% of PMs are on the lookout for jobs. 33% of the respondents say that the number one area of investment in Product Management is talent acquisition. While so many resources go into recruiting, organizations are at high risk of losing their talent. In your view what can organizations do to retain their PM talent? Do you have any tips or experiences on that subject, you would like to share with other product leaders?
Rajiv: As Product Managers, you have to be highly customer focused, tech-savvy and exceptionally detail-oriented professionals.
As a lot of organizations see greater and greater value in product management, the demand for great product managers has significantly risen.
Be it India or U.S., for a product manager – this is the best time to make the most of your career.
As product leaders, it is very important to choose the right talent, enable them to grow in the role and see them mature to phenomenal leaders in the organization.
For example, at Walmart Labs – it is very important to ensure that each Product Manager has a substantial opportunity to impact the business and the work they do inspires them to further grow their core competencies on customer centricity, product thinking, data-driven decision making and leadership.
We are open to everyone, ranging from product managers focusing on domains and going deep in an areas like customer experience, core retail or supply chain to the ones who are more first principles focused professional with very little background in the retail industry – we welcome everyone to ensure we have the right team that helps not only manage a very large business but is constantly pushing the envelope and thinking of better ways to serve our customers.
Depending on the career aspirations of each product manager we align the right product area and hence are able to keep them working on interesting problem statements and help them grow into true leaders at Walmart.
Meet Rajiv in person at Product Management Festival APAC in Singapore on the 17-18 June, where he will be speaking on “Product Management in the Platform World”. Tickets available at https://apac.productmanagementfestival.com/