I am working as Associate Product Manager 2 at Blinkit. I was born and brought up in Jaipur in a Baniya family (a community known to be grocery/sweet shop owners), so people assume I have inherited selling groceries in my blood. But no one in my family owned any kind of business; rather I have 13 doctors, 6 engineers, and 3 government officers in my family, and the only option that children in my family get is to either become a doctor or an engineer. Since the sight of blood made me dizzy, I chose the path of engineering.
After my studies, I landed my first job as a Product Analyst, which also served as my initiation into the world of startups. I discovered how the apps and websites that we use to solve our daily problems are created. How it is decided which problems are to be solved and how they are eventually solved. The fast-moving culture and ability to improve someone’s life got me interested in this field, and ever since then I am trying to use my skills to make an impact
Your team, role, and responsibilities
I am part of the Product Listing Page (PLP) team, and our aim is to make your cart creation journey as smooth and quick as Blinkit’s delivery. Our work involves finding the problems that users face in finding the product they are looking for and solving them in the best way possible. I personally believe if it takes Blinkit 10 minutes to deliver an order, it should not take more than 10 minutes for a customer to create a cart.
We put ourselves in the customer’s shoes, which helps us understand all the problems that she is experiencing while finding a product on the app. Everyone in the team thinks from the first principle mindset, but we do not let this affect our speed of execution. In the team, we value data a lot, and as being said “what cannot be measured, could not be improved”, we A/B test everything, all the time.
Share your journey as a woman in tech
I remember the time when in my previous company, I used to be the only female in my team, trying to raise my voice to be heard. In one of the interview processes for a company, a female HR asked me whether I am thinking of getting married soon, at the time I wasn’t even able to understand why she asked me that question, but later on, I understood how some companies have a trepidation that female candidate will leave the job soon and hence won’t be a good hire.
When I joined Blinkit (then called Grofers), I was very happy to see a good number of females working in tech, even in senior leadership. I was fortunate enough to even work with one, Visalakshi Kannan (Visa). She made me believe that if you work hard and are consistent in your efforts, gender doesn’t matter.
I was fortunate enough to have managers like Gagan Mahajan and Akshay Johri, who made sure I speak up in meetings where I would be the only female on the call. They made sure I am able to adjust to the environment and perform my best.
The most important learnings from this journey
- Utilise your innate qualities and areas of strength like empathy, relationship building, effective communication, and approaching a problem from a different angle.
- Define your brand and build it step by step. It is important to celebrate failures as much as you celebrate successes.
- Challenges are the biggest opportunities that will help you learn and grow. Never let go of an opportunity for the fear of failure!
Constraints you face as a woman in the product team
In the initial days of my career, many a time, my colleagues would cut me in between and start talking before I am done with my point. Sometimes my opinion was ignored in the meeting, but the same point which I have mentioned being told by any male was being heard. I felt being a female I have to always face this problem, and I have to learn to live with it.
But then I saw experienced female employees, advocating their points effortlessly, they were being heard and respected for their views. Over the period of time, I realized that it is just not my gender that was leading to me being ignored, but it was simply me not being assertive enough. You have to create your credibility for people to start listening to you, you have to show competence, you have to show courage to be heard.
Three things that helped you grow in tech
i. Believing in myself: In those early days, I felt intimidated working in a field that was mostly dominated by men. In spite of those early feelings, I knew what I was capable of doing. I was raised to walk with my head held high, to speak intelligently, and to always put my best foot forward—so that’s exactly what I did (and am still doing!). When I started to believe I am equally as competent and capable of being in this industry as any other successful professional man or woman, then when true freedom comes, that asks you to take ownership of your own future
ii. Learning from mistakes: No matter how diligent you are, there are times when things go wrong, personally and professionally, own up to those mistakes and learn from them and move on.
iii. Taking ownership of your own future: I learned it the hard way, that only you could change your future. If you blame someone or something else for your present, you are ruining your future too. You have to discover what you yourself could do to improve and achieve what you want and work on that.
Book/movie reccos on gender parity
To me, parity means that each gender is represented equally and ensures the access of women and men to the same opportunities, rights, opportunities to choose, and material conditions while respecting their specificities. And one movie that comes to my mind that tries to achieve this definition is Gunjan Saxena on Netflix, it presented how a woman fights for her right to equality.
One more series that I really felt presented gender parity is "Mare of Easttown” on HBO, it showed how a female detective goes to length to do her job, and all the people around her didn’t judge her or showed different behavior because of her gender, she was able to achieve what set out to do, even after being a middle-aged divorced woman, a daughter, and a mother.
One message to all women in tech
Being a woman doesn’t mean that your work standards are any different from others. To break away from any bias, you have to ensure that it’s your work quality and results that define you, not your gender.