Beer with Udayan Naik, product management leader in e-commerce/retail space- Coupang, Walmart, eBay. Learn about his amazing journey from engineering to product management

Today we talk to Udayan Naik, principal product manager at Coupang. He is passionate about building and learning from great products. A UC Berkeley MBA with leadership experience in product management and engineering, Udayan has built amazing products at eBay and Walmart prior to his current role. He loves creating products that positively impact user’s lives.

How it all begun

Two qualities define Udayan right from the beginning of his career- he always loves  talking to people and solving their problems. As the only engineer in an Indian startup, fresh out of engineering school in Mumbai in India, he voluntarily became the first product manager – talking to customers, collecting feedback and making product improvements. Many years later, as an engineering team lead at eBay, he was handed a mobile project with no product manager. He grasped this opportunity with both hands, running customer interviews, brainstorming product features and guiding his engineering team to deliver key initiatives. He successfully delivered eBay Mobile checkout in just one year. This experience was the launchpad for his official product management career.

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Why product management

In Udayan’s own words, “Seeing a customer’s happiness after addressing their pain point motivates me to be a PM, every day. Engineering is cool and building things is awesome, but figuring out WHY and HOW to build a successful product is a tough but exhilarating ride.”

Udayan’s secret as a successful product management leader and his Thinking of Everything as a Product framework

Udayan follows two PM philosophies

  1. Listen to opinion, decide based on facts

“As a PM, you’ll get tons of input from different stakeholders on what the product should be. Hear that feedback, give importance to every stakeholder.But it’s YOUR product and your job to make the best decision for the customer. Look for qualitative (talking to customers) and quantitative (customer behavior data) facts to guide product decisions.”

  1. Delightful products are built by a tribe

“As a PM, you are only as good as your team. You need to win their confidence by being credible so they WANT to collectively build your product. You alone won’t be able to accomplish much if you don’t have this tribe to back you up.”

He proposes the Thinking of Everything as a Product Framework as follows-

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What does Udayan do at Coupang? How does his typical day look like?

Currently Udayan is with the eComm market leader Coupang in South Korea, wherein he defines and leads the pricing strategy. He works on getting customers to love their prices. He synthesizes customer findings to influence the product roadmap and drives customer insights into the data science team to derive optimal pricing decisions, balancing customer, growth and revenue needs. Finally, he works with customer experience team to shape price messaging for maximum impact.

Pricing is an extremely sensitive area – a high price could negatively affect demand, while a low price could negatively affect profitability. At Coupang, 70% of his time is spent on thinking about pricing innovation to drive profitable growth. This includes studying competitor movement, reading new product pricing, and working with data scientists to test and take new pricing models to market. The other 30% is spent on improving business tools and reading about product wisdom.

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Udayan’s predictions for the e-commerce and retail industries

  • New-age retail will see physical locations for only high-touch categories (fashion, furniture etc). It will settle on a online+offline model – pure online players will also open physical locations.
  • Product marketplaces will go from selling products to enabling creation (3D printing) of products at home by selling blueprints (at least for small commodities).
  • The next era of marketplaces will be the rise of online services marketplaces for regulated industries – teaching, law etc.

His favorite books

Udayan loves to read, mostly about business, technology and its larger impact on society. These days I’m reading personal transformation books. Currently, he is reading Learned Optimism, a book about practicing and developing a positive interior dialogue.
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About Udayan


This post has been published on www.productschool.comcommunities.

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