Product Innovation and Opportunities for Cross-Functionality

Product Innovation and Opportunities for Cross-Functionality

Product innovation is a huge part of the technology industry and a large part of what drew me to the tech space as a post-MBA career. At my summer internship at Adobe, I realized that a big part of my job involved working with product teams and so I wanted to get a product manager’s insight into what is important as well as what the challenges are when thinking about product innovation. When I saw that Sushil Sharma, ’10, Chief Product Officer at LendingTree, would be speaking as part of the Kilts Center for Marketing’s Speaker Series event, I thought this would be a great opportunity for me to learn more about a career in tech and what to expect as I will be returning to Adobe upon graduation.

Sushil provided some great insights on this that I know will be useful as I prepare to enter the tech industry. One of these takeaways was hearing how cross-functional roles in tech are, especially as a product manager. The ability to work with and “speak the language” of a variety of different teams such as UX/design, engineering, analytics, etc. is essential to being able to deliver value to end users. It’s not too different from our multidisciplinary education at Booth where we are starting to get this experience of drawing from different disciplines to approach problem-solving.  

Another takeaway for me was learning about the importance of being able to get to the core of the products and draw comparisons between them. For example, Sushil talked about his experiences at and LendingTree. Though a dating app and an online loan marketplace may seem like very different products on the surface, each matches its users with people or services based on their individual interests or profile. Drawing these kinds of parallels between products is important in order to draw best practices from different industries and create a truly unique user experience.

A final key insight for me was understanding the value in testing a hypothesis. Sushil talked about the culture of hypothesis testing at LendingTree including the high volume of A/B testing teams do to understand which tactics work best with the product. I started to gain some experience with prototyping and user testing this year with the Innovation and Design Club at Booth and found it to be a fun and valuable learning experience. It was interesting for me to hear from Sushil that this is also something so embedded in the product innovation process.

Overall, this event was a great way to get a peek into what a product manager does as well as hear about the career path of a Booth alumnus and all the potential opportunities that await us after graduation. I’m grateful to Sushil for sharing his time and insights with us!