Namaste! Je m’appelle Kaivalya.
Being from a multilingual country where, from a young age, I learned to speak different languages and dialects. I picked up the habit of speaking with different people in their native tongue because it makes the connection stronger and also amuses them! I love that feeling of surprising people by speaking in multiple languages. In 7th grade, I started studying French as my first foreign language and did that for 4 years. After school was over, I lost touch with it.
Until this summer when I thought of revisiting it. I downloaded Duolingo which is the most popular option for learning another language. It helped me re-learn a lot of words and phrases which had been erased by my conscious mind. That was how I started using Duolingo. And now, I am trying to learn Chinese to deepen my interaction with my peers at Duke.
The Product Dream
I was brought up in a quaint little town right outside the bustling metropolis of Mumbai. My childhood days were spent with my grandparents and all that I rejoiced was to make them happy.
In college, I realized what I love doing is to bring a smile to people’s faces by getting them closer to what they love.
And if there’s one job out there today with that impact, it is of a Product Manager. So, I set out with this big ambition: The Product Dream.
Anyone can be a PM
Coming from a family of amazing cooks, I inherited the love. In Ratatouille, Chef Gusteau famously says, ‘Anyone can cook.’
This is later explained by saying: ‘Anyone can cook does not mean that everyone can become a great cook, but a great cook can come from anywhere!’
And that resonated with me, I did not need to have a specific background to be a PM. All I needed was to work towards my dream. Because being a Product Manager is in many ways like cooking.
You bring together all the necessary ingredients in a perfect blend and serve your customers with the thing they so dearly crave!
Yes, I can be a PM!
Masters at Duke
After starting my Master’s in Engineering Management, I was exposed to so many different aspects of product management. I started with Design Thinking which helped me understand customer pains and why to build a product. This led me into Experience Research and the associated world of building an impeccable UX.
The second step was to understand how to build a product and a business. I started learning Innovation Management and Competitive Strategies which taught me the importance of collaboration in innovation. Studying business models and agile organizational structures helped me imbibe a business facet into the product.
My final step (and semester) is mastering the use of data to make the right product decisions. I am now analyzing data using R and SQL to make some sense in the chaos!
Summer of Internship
I sought to use my summer and intern with In-House. Here, we were developing a platform for truly anonymous team feedback.
I started by facilitating the validation team to define prototypes and capture insights from users. This helped us identify key changes that drove usability journeys for our MVP. We went on to establish a design language for the product. I, then, worked with the VP of Strategy to create roadmaps communicating our product vision for the next 2 Quarters, including shipping our MVP.
In my final third, I used my knowledge of organizational structures and experience of working with the team to define a new structure for our company. I recommended our team be more agile and truly follow Scrum guidelines to improve productivity.
The scrutiny of our Founders helped me grow and being the only PM in our company, I had all eyes on me!
New Grad Product Manager
PMs at Duolingo are right at the intersection of making products for people and bringing them closer through language. This is a great opportunity to use my acquired product sense and will provide me with the right resources to learn a ton more! I love this role because it empowers grads and gives them ownership so quickly.
I will be able to drive a product from ideation to delivery and this sense of accountability will help me grow. At this early stage in my career, the New Grad PM role will refine my vision and enable me to set a clear path for my career.
I will be taking up the accountability for the product and I will be doing so with a smile!
What will I do a Duolingo?
I use the right mix of strategy and empathy to drive product decisions. We want to make learning fun and keep a business running.
It is difficult to do both. The best way for a PM to do that is to maximize the value of the work done by their teams. The PM can think about value for the world’s users and self-organizing product teams decide the best way for them to deliver that value; something I learned as a Professional Scrum Product Owner™.
At Duolingo, there are a lot of innovations going around expanding the product line beyond our core gamified learning app. I liked introductions like Podcasts and Stories which can help take learners beyond phrases. I would love to be a part of such enhancements that make personalized education accessible to everyone regardless of their native tongue.
Languages I can add my two cents to: Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati, English, French, Chinese, Twi
(and learning every day)
Enough about me, waiting to hear what you think!