Please tell us about yourself
Vivek Indrayan had always known that he wanted to work at a startup. As a graduate student pursuing a Master of Science in Product Management (MSPM) through the Tepper School of Business and School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University, he was able to take advantage of Carnegie Mellon’s powerful business connections and land his dream job with Pendo in Raleigh, North Carolina.
What did you study before coming to CMU?
I did my B.E. (Information Technology) from Visvesvaraya Technological University and MTech (Information Technology) from International Institute of Information Technology.
How did you end up in such an offbeat, unconventional and unique career?
Vivek first heard of the software startup from a LinkedIn post that MSPM Program Executive Director Greg Coticchia wrote alerting his network that the program’s candidates were actively seeking summer internships. Pendo’s CEO Todd Olson, a member of the CMU class of 1997, commented on the post and piqued Vivek’s curiosity. Pendo is a product cloud that provides user insight, guidance and communication for digital product teams. With Pendo, product managers can track product usage and collect feedback, all without requiring engineering resources.
After he researched more about Pendo, named a Top 50 Startup by LinkedIn and a Best Workplace by Inc. Magazine, Vivek discovered that the company offered opportunities tailor made for an MSPM student.
“Pendo was founded with a really unique perspective about improving products by providing insights to product managers, and the whole company revolves around benefiting product teams,” Vivek said. “Pendo’s software product and its work culture provide a very balanced emphasis on engineering, design and analytics, thus seeding the perfect environment in which a product manager can thrive and create features useful to other product managers.”
Tell us about your work
Vivek says he was initially drawn to Pendo because he knew that working a summer internship for a fast-growing startup would provide him with a more hands-on experience than a larger firm might.
“In true startup spirit, I’ve jumped right into the fray by ramping up on the product quickly and getting involved with some real customer interactions around road-mapped features,” Vivek said. “The team and work are very fast-paced, with an emphasis on end results and a balanced style of work and fun.”
After only two weeks on the job, Vivek had the opportunity to contribute to his team by presenting a survey for Pendo clients. Zendesk, LexisNexis, Coupa, Gainsight, BMC, and Sprinklr are currently some of the company’s top customers.
“I published my first wide-reaching user research survey to a large chunk of Pendo’s customers, by using Pendo’s own platform,” Vivek said. “The survey is meant to understand the demand and expectations for a new feature that Pendo is planning to develop soon. I found it amazing that something like this could be facilitated within a week of my internship, thanks to my awesome coworkers.”
What are your future plans?
Vivek is set to graduate in December of 2018. Along with the invaluable experience he will have gained at his summer internship with Pendo, he believes that his time at CMU has given him and his fellow students all of the tools and opportunities that they need in order to become successful product managers.
“The Tepper School’s MSPM program is a perfect, purpose-built launchpad for tech professionals looking to start a career in product management,” Vivek said. “Having previously been an engineer, I hoped to leverage business and design skills gained from this program and apply them effectively in my job as a product manager, both in startups and large companies. I’m certain it will be a great learning experience, and an ideal way to kickstart my product manager career along with my time in the MSPM program.”
Advice to students?
According to Vivek, the ideal candidate for Carnegie Mellon’s MSPM program is someone who is prepared to fully immerse him or herself into the coursework and has a desire to strengthen their technical and problem solving skills. He is thankful to have found the position at Pendo in order to showcase what he has learned so far and looks forward to learning more as the summer progresses.
“Product managers need to understand and apply a multitude of skills – like technical, design, business, and communication – to analyze and solve a problem in a comprehensive manner,” Vivek said. “This was something which appealed to me as compared to looking at problems in a uni-dimensional manner, like in engineering. Also, I’ve always been eager to meet and interact with customers and this role facilitates that.”