Do I need an MBA to Be a Product Manager: Kavya Mallesh


Product Manager Kavya Mallesh-172486-editedMeet Kavya Mallesh, Intuit product manager and 2017 graduate of the Berkeley Evening & Weekend MBA Program:

What did you do prior to pursuing your MBA?

I was a graphics software engineer at Intel leading development of Intel video processing graphics drivers on Apple products.

Why did you want to work in product management?

Technology has been my passion since I was a young girl. Having worked in a purely technical capacity as a software engineer for a long time, I realized I was not making as big an impact as I would like to.

By talking to product managers in my network, I began to view a product manager as the CEO of a specific product, managing it from concept to launch, taking into consideration all aspects of its development and marketing activities. Being in product management I could look at the bigger picture and make a meaningful impact. I loved the idea of combining my technical background with my newly acquired business acumen to bring life into products that could change peoples’ lives.

What have been your responsibilities as a product manager?

As senior staff product manager, working on Sling TV products. I developed the strategic product road map and defined product features by closely working with user experience and consumer research teams and other product managers. I
collaborated and negotiated with development teams to drive milestones. I also worked with marketing, legal and customer experience teams on the launch.

Having been in the same shoes as my technical team members, I can relate very well with them. This helps me lead my teams to deliver the best products.

How has earning an MBA been helpful in landing a position and working in product management?

There are both qualitative and quantitative aspects to product management and the
Berkeley MBA curriculum addresses both. Courses like Marketing Research, Strategic Brand Management, Pricing, and Design Thinking greatly improved my product management skills. Power & Politics and Leadership are examples of classes that honed my people skills.

Class projects at Haas offered me opportunities to work with team members of different skills and perspectives. More often than not, they were culturally diverse too. These experiences prepped me to work better with geo-diverse and cross-functional teams.

My networks at Haas were invaluable in helping shape my decision to be a product manager and they opened up doors to new avenues.

Do you recommend an MBA to people interested in product management?

Absolutely. The curriculum gives you a well-rounded understanding of business and
people skills. And there are so many other valuable resources at Berkeley Haas: on-campus recruiting, the Career Management Group, student clubs and the Haas Alumni Network are to name just a few.

Want more? Read more blog posts about product managers, learn about our Evening & Weekend Berkeley MBA Program, or download our free ebook on breaking into product management.

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About The Author

Eileen was Senior Assistant Director of Admissions for the Berkeley MBA Programs for Working Professionals from 2017-2019. She enjoyed meeting prospective students and helping them explore the benefits of an MBA, and hopes these blog posts provide valuable insight into the Berkeley MBA experience.