Can you tell us about your career roles postgraduation?  What do youlike about your role as a PM?

I’m currently a product manager at WhatsApp in Meta – a messaging product used by billions every day to stay connected with family, friends and businesses! I work on business messaging at WhatsApp, specifically on how we scale our business monetization efforts while preventing spam on the platform. Before Meta I was leading product Twilio which is a SaaS (software as a service) company providing communication infrastructure for developers to build on top of, essentially helping biz communicate with their users. I worked on building machine-learning based products there to enable businesses to increase their customer engagement through various communication channels such as SMS/email/WhatsApp.

As a product manager, seeing people using and loving the product I helped build gives me a lot of purpose. One can tangibly see the real world impact of the work and working at companies at Twilio and now WhatsApp – used by millions even billions around the world – the impact one has on people’s lives is remarkable! I love that about my job as a product manager.

Post-graduation, you’ve worked at leading technology companies. Can you tell us a bit about what your job search was like as a Joint Student? Do you believe your Joint Degree has helped you in your career?

Post-graduation, I have been fortunate enough to lead teams at Twilio (largest SMS/Email provider in the world) and WhatsApp (the largest messaging app in the world). My first role as a Product Manager at Twilio was fairly technical as Twilio is a developer-first company. A rounded understanding of how APIs work, how machine learning models such as neural networks work, and being able to think like a developer so I could build products they love helped me stand out during my application.

I’d give a lot of credit to the Joint degree. I focused on both software engineering and machine learning courses during my program – which along with my business skills – gave me a massive leg up. The CS program gave me so much exposure to these technical concepts and a foundational grounding in software and machine learning skills, which helped me demonstrate my technical acumen during the application process but importantly actually be successful at my job! As a PM, your ability to understand technical architecture and know what’s under the hood so you can help your team make the right product decisions is invaluable. It also ensures you can collaborate with your engineering team at a much deeper level and gain their trust which is critical to execute well on product development

What interested you in applying to the Joint Program after being admitted to the Booth MBA Program? Did you have previous CS experience?

Before grad school, I was working on my own tech startup in India. That was really my first foray into product development and made me realize the importance of technical education and how much I could increase my leverage if I understood technology deeply. Uchicago’s joint program is one of the few programs where you are offered the flexibility to shape your MBA and CS program to your needs – barring foundational courses, I could choose what courses I wanted to pursue and when, design my workload to suit my ambitions and finish the joint program in the same time as a usual Full-time MBA program. Both these things combined made the joint program an ideal fit for me.

I did not have formal CS education from undergrad but I taught myself how to code during my startup days. That background along with interest in software and motivation to pursue a career long term in technology was what drove me to choose the Joint program.

What was one of your favorite experiences (class/project/etc.) as a Joint Student?

One big reason I enjoyed the joint program so much was the range of diverse topics I was able to dive into – from history and business to entrepreneurship to technology and coding! It’s hard to choose just one so here is one from each program:

I loved the cloud computing class from the MPCS program as it was a great combination of theory and hands-on project practice. We dug deep into web application architecture, cloud storage and computation and how to scale our web apps using relevant industry tools such as Amazon web services (AWS). We capped it off by building our own end-to-end web app as part of the capstone project!

From the MBA program, my favorite course was ‘Business in Historical Perspective’ – where we explored how businesses have succeeded and failed in diverse contexts throughout history. I am always pleasantly surprised by historical patterns repeating over time and how much we can learn from that.

Would you recommend the Joint Program to recently admitted Booth MBA students? If so, why?

I derived outsized value from the Joint program and recommend strongly considering it as part of the MBA experience. If you are interested in pursuing a career in a technology-driven industry, or in a technical (or technical-adjacent) role such as a product manager, software engineering, data scientist, etc – then the joint program is a no-brainer. The program gives you the skills and knowledge necessary to navigate the rapidly changing landscape of technology and business, and prepares you to take on leadership roles in these industries. And there is really no previous coding experience required – just the motivation to learn. My class had a mix of both newbies with no previous coding experience as well as folks who had pursued CS in undergrad.

However, it’s important to consider your own interests and career goals. If you are primarily interested in a career in business fields, such as consulting or finance, then the joint program may not be as beneficial. Additionally, it’s important to consider the time and effort required to complete the joint program – you do have to ruthlessly prioritize your time and the rigor required is real! But it can be so rewarding 🙂