Episode #66: From Consultant to Product Pro with Harish Potabathula

With over a decade of experience in the ever-evolving tech landscape, Harish brings a wealth of knowledge and insights to the forefront of this podcast. Starting his career as a consultant at IBM, he swiftly transitioned into the realm of product management, setting the stage for an impressive career trajectory. Harish spent five transformative years at Highradius, a prominent player in the B2B SaaS FinTech space, where he honed his craft in developing innovative solutions to complex financial challenges. For the past four years, he has been a driving force at Whatfix, another B2B SaaS powerhouse based in India, delivering cutting-edge solutions to a global audience. One of Harish's defining strengths is his ability to tackle business problems head-on by crafting innovative software products. Whether it's building new products from the ground up or scaling existing ones to new heights, his strategic vision and leadership have been instrumental in driving success for enterprises. But Harish's expertise doesn't stop at the boardroom. Outside of work, he's a passionate badminton player, always striving for excellence on and off the court. In his leisure time, he finds solace and creativity in strumming his guitar.

A Career Forged in Problem-Solving

Harish's journey into product management didn't start in the boardroom. It began as a management consultant at IBM, where he honed his problem-solving skills. However, he soon realized the repetitive nature of the problems he was tackling. He sought a profession where he could face new challenges daily, and that's when he discovered product management.

As he transitioned into product management at Highradius, a prominent B2B SaaS FinTech company, and later at Whatfix, his passion for solving complex problems found a new outlet. Harish's approach to product management is rooted in his love for puzzles and brain teasers, making him uniquely suited to navigate the ever-changing landscape of tech.

Embracing the Dynamic Nature of Product Management

One of the key aspects that drew Harish to product management was its dynamic nature. Unlike the repetitive problems he encountered as a consultant, every day in product management is a new puzzle waiting to be solved. Whether it's aligning internal teams or addressing customer needs, the constant challenge fuels his passion.

Harish's journey underscores the importance of problem-solving in product management. Rather than rushing to solutions, he emphasizes understanding the problem space deeply. This approach enables him to explore diverse solutions and deliver maximum value to customers.

From Idea to Launch: Prioritizing with Purpose

Taking a product from concept to launch requires meticulous planning and prioritization. Harish's product development process is rooted in Lean methodology, focusing on maximum learning with minimum effort. He invests significant time in problem discovery and solution validation before any code is written.

When it comes to building a Minimum Viable Product (MVP), Harish's philosophy is clear: address the end-to-end customer journey. While not every complexity or corner case is addressed, the MVP should provide a meaningful solution. This approach ensures that customer feedback and value delivery remain at the forefront.

Building Scalable Products: Knowing When to Scale

Scaling a product is a crucial phase in its lifecycle. Harish's experience spans both early-stage products and established ones with hundreds of customers. He recognizes that in the early stages, it's acceptable not to optimize for the future. Instead, the focus should be on achieving product-market fit.

Scaling becomes imperative when patterns emerge. With a handful of customers, recognizing these patterns signals the need for a platform upgrade. Harish's approach is rooted in adaptability; he believes in evolving products to meet changing market demands.

The Evolution of a Product Manager

Harish's career has undergone a remarkable transformation. From a junior product manager focused on execution, he has evolved into a strategic thinker who looks beyond the immediate tasks. He now balances execution with a holistic view of how the product aligns with the company's goals and market strategy.

His journey exemplifies the shift from being solely product-centric to becoming business-centric. Product managers must not only build features but also consider how those features fit into the broader business context. Harish's ability to bridge these worlds is a testament to his growth as a product manager.

Staying Ahead in the Tech World

In a tech landscape abuzz with emerging technologies, staying informed is crucial. Harish recognizes that AI, particularly generative AI, is a game-changer. He predicts that technologies like GPT will fundamentally alter how people interact with software, akin to the transformative impact of touch interfaces on smartphones.

Harish's advice to tech enthusiasts is clear: stay updated on emerging technologies, especially in AI. The industry is on the cusp of a revolution, and those who embrace and understand it will lead the way.

In conclusion, Harish's journey in product management is a testament to adaptability, problem-solving, and a commitment to innovation. His approach emphasizes the importance of deeply understanding problems, prioritizing learning, and evolving with the industry's changing landscape. As the tech world continues to evolve, Harish stands as a beacon of excellence in product management, leading the way into a future shaped by AI and innovation.

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