A Day in the Life of a … Product Manager

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In today’s installment of A Day In The Life of a Tasktopian, we caught up Vilji Kavanal, our Associate Product Manager. We covered everything from prioritizing work, increasing quarterly feature delivery by 500%, and where to get the best takeout near the Tasktop HQ. 

How do you start your day before work?

Well, of course after the routine morning chores, I usually start my day with a cup of coffee. The best part about waking up before work at Tasktop is not having to worry about breakfast — there are plenty of free nutritional food options in the kitchen. Then my day begins with pure bliss, especially on a sunny day…. 

What is your role at Tasktop?

I manage the lifecycle of the cloud version of our flagship product Tasktop Integration Hub. From the discovery to the release, I have an overarching view of the features that get shipped to our cloud customers.    

What does a typical day as an Associate Product Manager look like for you?

Typically, during my cherished coffee time, I am going through the new features that our customers have requested since the last time I triaged the features list (usually once a day). In the process of triaging, I may have Slack conversations or in-person/remote meetings with customer-facing folks (sales, customer success, support, partner relationships, product) to get more information about the impact and urgency. If it falls under the high urgency, high/low importance quadrants, there will be further discussion with multiple facets of the business like security, legal, etc. 

During the mornings, the ritual meetings like stand-ups, retro, weekly, bi-weekly catch-up, etc. could take up 10% of my time. However, I have had a great experience with Tasktop employees in their manner of setting up meetings. I seldom find myself a part of a meeting where I am not needed.  

By noon, with all the information gathered for multiple customer requests, I am in the prioritization mode. Prioritization, for me, is the toughest and the most exciting part of my job. It is based on the value delivered to the business, customer and Tasktop. The output of this task could be the maker or breaker of revenue deals for the company. Even though the task of prioritization falls on me as a Product Manager, I have a wise and experienced team to support my decision.

Prioritization is no easy task, especially when your stakeholders are elsewhere in the world, and you need to get the right people in the room so they can talk (virtual). Some people are very shy about sharing their thoughts, while others are disproportionately loud. It can be hard to prioritize across wildly different ideas coming from different groups with different perspectives, but that’s what makes it challenging. There is nothing in my job that gives me as much satisfaction as managing stakeholder expectations. This is what excites me when I wake up every morning. By noon, my EMEA colleagues have signed off for the day and so catching up with most of them in the mornings itself becomes essential for me.

Post lunch is when, less often, I have meetings with business stakeholders (may have with some of them who are in the office). However, my interaction with Engineering is pretty strong during this time period as they are local to Vancouver. Discovery sessions involving the participation of the three amigos, i.e Product, UX and Engineers (QA and Dev) mostly happens after lunch. Product and Engineering also collaborate on requests that fall in the low urgency, high importance quadrant. These features may impact customer NPS (Net Promoter Score) and are typically important from a product intuitiveness point of view, but may not necessarily impact customer’s buying criteria. 

By the end of the day, I ensure that I have sent emails or Slack messages to the right people (not in the PST zone) whose inputs are essential for me to start my next day’s work. Also, if I have time, I consider how we can modify processes to incorporate lean ways of working or enhance collaboration techniques within and outside of the Product Development team. On a quarterly basis, you will also find me analyzing and deciphering data to envision my product on a long-term roadmap.

Greatest accomplishment at Tasktop so far?

Increasing quarterly feature delivery by 500% by incorporating an innovative system that supports tight collaboration between Product, Engineering and customer-facing teams. This has not only enhanced our product with new features but has also increased the morale of Engineers and the trust factor between the internal Tasktop customer-facing folks and the customers. Though I was the driver of this system, I would not have been able to do it without the support of my Engineering team. 

Go-to workday lunch?

Hmmm. I am an intense foodie. So exploring the food places around Tasktop is my thing. Robson Street has so many cuisine options from all over the world. I have worked in the core of Vancouver downtown in the past and I was most often disheartened by the food options there. You either had to walk a mile to find what you are craving for or settle for sandwiches, soup and salad options. However, in the west end of downtown, I always find a diversified range of food options thrown at me. One step to the right, you have many ramen noodles joints; one to the left, and you find Hawaiin poke cuisine. But yeah, back to the question, my go-to workday lunch is usually whatever fulfills my craving for that day. My favorite is the Japanese Izakaya place ‘Guu garlic’ which is by the intersection of Robson and Bidwell. On the few occasions when I have meetings during lunchtime, I get some home-made tandoori chicken or tuna/beef cutlets.   

Favorite Tasktop memory?

I don’t think I have one particular memory. It is spread over multiple occasions. Well, the closest to a favorite moment was the realization that two of my most important stakeholder groups, i.e. my engineers and the customer facing teams were happy and content with the system of continuous delivery of features I put in place. The spike in feature delivery is one of the pleasant events in the history of Tasktop product development and I am proud to have initiated it and have it directly impact our OKRs for the year.    

How would you describe working at Tasktop in one sentence?

Each and every individual working for Tasktop places the firm’s interest above self-interest. As a woman, I have never had a better group of talented and respectful people to work with in my entire tech career. 

Want to work with Vilji?

We’re hiring! We have a number of interesting roles across the company in sales, product development, customer success, operations, and business development. View job opportunities.