Karishma Soni has forged a successful career path within Ninjacart and says that product development is her “calling”. With no product experience, Karishma now works as a Senior Product Manager for Ninjacart’s Product Team after serving as the CEO’s Executive Assistant.
She has worked with notable industry names like HSBC bank as a Marketing Data Analyst, JSW Cement – where she closely worked in the MD’s Cell on Data Analytics and Automation, etc., and other companies like L&T, etc.
‘My Pivot to T.A.P’ tells the stories of Ninjas who have made a career shift from other streams within the company to our Tech, Analytics, and Product teams (T.A.P.).
Let’s have a look at her journey!
Start of my journey at Ninjacart
My journey with Ninjacart started in March 2021, as an EA (Executive Assistant) to the CEO. From a Data Analytics professional to an Executive Assistant to the CEO was a big career shift. But for me, I saw it as an opportunity to create impact and that was the only reason why I took this plunge. Having worked in the corporate space for so many years, I struggled to see the impact that my work was creating. And that’s when I realized no other place but a start-up would nourish me with such an opportunity. After a good deal of scouting my version of ‘best place to work’, I came across Ninjacart. And the thirst for witnessing the impact of my efforts closely, flexibility and freedom of working, got me to join Ninjacart.
In my first stint at Ninjacart, which was EA to the CEO (Thiru) I did a lot of things. Starting from investor & key stakeholder management to business operations, etc. As a learner and doer, there were a lot of hiccups in the journey, but it was all worth it because of the knowledge and learning I sourced from it. To be honest, we saw it all. Starting from the culture change to the advent of new businesses, we witnessed every up and down. I was closely working with Thiru and the product team, and that was when I found my calling. I moved to the product team as an Associate Product Manager in Oct 2021 and was promoted to Senior Product Manager in April 2022 (still continuing).
My Pivot to Product
‘Ninjacart is a land of opportunities’ and my pivot to Product is just another translation of it. As an EA to Thiru, I had the opportunity to get involved in all the major business discussions, where we would talk about the growth of the business, futile ways to scale it, and so on.
My first encounter with the product world happened for one of the Ninjacart Apps, where I would help Thiru to get the rework done on some of the features. But that essentially hadn’t given me any vast understanding until the legendary “vision program” happened. The vision program was started by Thiru with the motive of streamlining the entire Manager and Reportee feedback process. This was launched on the Bifrost App (Ninjacart’s Internal Portfolio). While initiating this, I worked closely with the Tech Team where I was introduced to the concept of flow designing, UI & UX design, notification design, tech assimilation, etc. I enjoyed designing the communication flows and the UI – UX. I was deeply involved with the tech team where I learned about the entire backend and frontend consolidation of the entire app and feature which gave the final shape to it. With this, Thiru being a product person himself broadened my vision and streamlined my viewpoint on the aspect of Ninjacart’s aim and vision. That not only helped me with my decision-making skills but also clarified my vision of the long-term growth of the business and the vision program. And that is exactly when I found my calling for product management!
I was skeptical in the very beginning, but when Thiru said, “Don’t worry, I know you will do it”. That instilled a big chunk of confidence in me. I was ready to make it big!
I joined the Ninjacart Product Team when it was just 5 members strong. I was a bit nervous in the beginning, as I was still very new to the system. It was only because of people like Choku, Akhila, Harish, and others, who made it extremely comfortable for me and helped me in my ‘Pivot to Product’. My first stint was with the Ninja App. Well, the entire process of building the app from scratch, initiating the process, designing the flows, and notifications, embarking on the UI & UX, etc. was quite a journey. The journey of the Ninja app saw many sleepless nights, alterations and finally launching the app. It is like our baby, where we saw it grow completely. Gradually the team grew and we are a big family now!
Currently, I take care of the commerce and lending feature, in the Ninja App.
Key qualities needed for a person to become a Product Manager? Is a technical background really needed?
The ultimate thing about being in the product sector is your ability to solve problems and come up with great solutions. Being from a non-product background, I spent a lot of time learning about the basics of product development. And that is something that really helped me. I spent a lot of time with the web developers, who helped me understand the aspect of tech involved in the product.
In my opinion, you necessarily need not have a technical background to be a product manager. It is just more like icing on the cake; you can learn more about it as you progress.
A key thumb rule I truly believe is- you have to be very customer-centric, a key lesson I learned from Thiru and exactly what our values CODE teaches us and that is the main hook of being a product manager.
Agri tech is a very complex arena, and that is something that has excited me since the day 1 of my pivot to the product team.
“My learning curve has honestly touched heights, ever since I moved to the product team. My knowledge on the business side and knowledge gained from Thiru has shaped my vision to come up with the best of solutions. ”
The journey has just started, but there’s definitely more to go!