Top 10 Key Learnings from Product Management Festival

Written by Published in Conference, News and truths, Product Management
Women in Product Management APAC 2019

Product Management Festival recently hosted the second edition of PMF APAC in Singapore at the INSEAD campus. It’s a two-day event and is an annual conference bringing product professionals and managers from different industries, across disciplines and across geographies together to learnexchange knowledge and make an impact. I had the wonderful opportunity of attending this amazing event and would like to summarize and share Top 10 key learnings that I could take away for the greater benefit of the product community:

  • Every Business as a Service – The world is moving towards platform business model. Business and IT are transforming themselves through Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS). Through the Keynote Session on Day 1, got amazing glimpses from Walmart Product on their transformation journey on “Supply Chain as a Service”. In fact their journey on coming up with a mix of pipeline business model (traditional retail) and platform business model (likes of Uber) is pretty interesting.
  • Sharing is caring – If we want to go fast, we can go alone but if we want to get farther we have to go together. This was the most inspiring takeaway justifying the needs to have this sort of community in APAC. Key leadership tenants required for a successful Product Manager also includes being grateful, considerative, having exceptional listening skills and taking the community for the larger good than working in silos.
  • Emergence of APAC – It was amazing to witness the magnitude of Tech Innovation in the region including China, India and South East Asia. This belt is growing by leaps and bounds and has companies like Grab, GoJek focused purely on South East Asia and are coming up with Super Apps concept.
  • Going Local – built its Booking local app where they talked about localization of the app keeping consumer behaviors in the mind. One size does not fit all.
  • Next Billion Users (NBU) – Tania from Google spoke about “NBU” strategy coming from emerging markets like India, Indonesia, etc. This team works with all product teams to build innovation features like 2 wheeler navigation routes in Maps for users in India, Indonesia etc. This is true not just for Google but for most companies that intend to create products that make an impact globally.


  • Magic of Cross-Functional Dedicated Teams – In PayPal, we call this as the transformation from “Agile Team” to “Durable Teams”. Apparently, this concept is being applied by many companies challenged with resourcing constraints and dependencies.


  • Fail Fast and Refine Early – Some good learnings from OLX team where we can refine early in the process before shipping the final product and apply continuous user testing. It’s no longer about MVP and more about continuous refinements before you reach your minimum proud product. The BIRA framework (Brutally Honest Feedback, Initial Reactions, Refinements, Analysis and Iteration) was a cool takeaway.
  • Worst Beta Experiences – This session from Atlassian had some good takeaways on how they managed to do the damage control of one of their beta products and rebranded into a successful product with an enterprise focus. A couple of reasons cited for the failure included siloed approach between Product and Platform teams, No additional value for the customer for a paid feature and they stayed in beta for a much longer duration than the original announcement.



  • Transforming Product Culture at Scale – The transition from project management to product management from GogoVan resonated a lot as well and how companies need to embrace product mindset. Transforming from Project Mindset to Product Mindset, Waterfall to Agile and Long Release Cycles to Continuous Integration/Continuous Deployment were highlighted as some of the changes in the culture that helped to improve product outcomes. It is hard and can be daunting to reach this maturity at an organization level yet it is the best thing to happen if you would like to have sustainable growth.


Culture mapping


  • Not a CEO but a Hostage Negotiator – PM is not a mini CEO but a hostage negotiator based on Lego theme was delivered well by the speaker in a lighter way. The approach involved 3 steps – Preparation (understanding your background, know your hostage taker and have a plan/proposal), Negotiation (communication, building trust and try not to leave casualties) and Action (execute, know and utilize your support and be aware it may not always end well – continue to evolve).

Overall, attending Product Management Festival APAC Edition in Singapore was an invigorating experience. I would like to thank PayPal for providing this opportunity to attend this amazing conference and also thank the Product Management Festival team towards recognizing me among other beautiful women doing great job to grow “Women in Product Management” at APAC.

Women in Product in APAC


Congratulations to all the Women in Product recognized by PMF!

This article was originally published at

 About the Author:
Savitha AjitrajSavitha has over a decade of experience in Product Management with primary focus on the online marketplaces and eCommerce verticals. She has worked in Enterprise F500s as well as fledgling startups. Her thirst for knowledge continues to drive her to explore newer ways of doing things and doing it differently with a customer first attitude. Currently at PayPal she is working on an API based product for enterprise customers and marketplaces to manage disputes. She’s happy to share her learnings and keen on building the product community in APAC and Chennai. Savitha is a finalist in the Women in Product Management APAC  2019 list and was an attendee PMF APAC 2019 in Singapore on the 17-18 June.

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