Behind the App Part 2: The Conductor

Our engineers, product managers, designers, and researchers are pushing boundaries to build next-level products for our members. From shaping the architecture of our mobile-first product suite to designing and building a holistic member experience, our team is at the center of it all. In this four-part series, we’re taking you behind the SoFi app to meet the dream team who is shaping the future of not only the company, but the entire fintech industry. 

Meet Sasank Reddy, a Director of Product, whose team partners with data science, research, operations, and engineering to identify key focus areas to improve upon so we can deliver a best-in-class product to our nearly 4 million members. But first, if you haven’t already done so, head back to our SoFi-ety blog and check out part 1, where you’ll meet Sarah, a Staff Researcher who works closely with Product to understand and meet members’ needs and expectations. 

You were recently promoted to Director of Product - congratulations! But for six years you’ve worked as an individual contributor focusing on product management. So can you tell us how your team  partners with others in the Engineering, Product, and Design (EPD) org to deploy new products or product enhancements?

Sasank: My team’s goal as Product Managers is to focus on our members and better understand their needs. Typically, this starts by working with our partners across data science, research (like Sarah), and operations. Combining both quantitative and qualitative information (i.e. what are our members doing in the app, what are they giving as feedback already, and what are some open needs they have) helps us better understand the member and where we can focus on. Once we get an idea of the problems we want to solve, then we work closely with the design and engineering teams (those stories are up next!) to come up with product experiences that are feasible. We have specific key performance metrics that we focus on for each project and we make sure they are instrumented and analyzed after we roll out a feature. This ensures that they are solving our member problems in the right way.

Describe a ‘day in the life’ of a Product Manager. 

Sasank: Being a Product Manager at SoFi is very cross functional. A typical day involves meeting and collaborating with stakeholders across the team. Before I was promoted to director, I would spend time collaborating with other product and design leads to discuss or review product experiences we are building for our members. There are meetings with the engineering team to go over the execution plan for an existing feature or plan out how we would break down building something that is coming up. I also liked to spend some portion of my day focused on member feedback - either looking at the latest NPS results, checking on an experiment that is running, or talking to our ops team about any trends they are seeing in terms of feedback. Some portion of my time as a product manager was spent looking ahead - doing opportunity assessments for a future product. Every day is pretty dynamic – that’s what I liked most about this job.

What skills make someone successful in your role/on your team?

Sasank: At the core, you need to have empathy for our members. It’s important to spend time understanding our member’s needs so that we can create great products that solve deep customer problems.

Collaboration is key to being successful as a Product Manager. This involves working closely with stakeholders across various functions so that you can understand constraints and opportunities to help our members succeed in getting their money right.

Adaptability and resilience are useful skills to have in my role. Our members expect great products and we need to be able to deliver and adapt to their needs. As you are building new experiences, you learn new things that could result in changing how you approach a problem.  

Having an ownership mindset is important in my role. Typically, PMs are inspiring and pushing the team to achieve great outcomes for our members. We try to fill in the gaps and also establish better ways to scale across the team.

“At the core, you need to have empathy for our members. It’s important to spend time understanding our member’s needs so that we can create great products that solve deep customer problems.” 

We know you are more than being a data-obsessed, collaborative Product Manager. So what are your hobbies outside of work? 

Sasank: I enjoy the outdoors. On a typical weekend, I spend time with my family, going on a hike or visiting a local park. I also love reading and learning, so I usually dedicate an hour or two every weekend to continuously learning about new things.  Lately, I’ve been focused on learning more about crypto / web3.  

Loved hearing your perspective, Sasank! Next up, we’ll talk to an engineer who’s using the insights and strategy from employees like Sarah and Sasank to develop and deploy new product features.

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The individual featured is a SoFi employee. Their personal experiences, obviously, do not take into account your own specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. Results will vary.

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Kari Scheidt, Talent Brand @ SoFi