Professional individuals, the world over, dream of a job in Program Management and work hard to achieve it. However, considering that this field is complex as well confusing to crack, sometimes, all that hard work and preparation is not enough to get you that coveted job. Well, Kumar Saurabh, an accomplished and result-driven Program Manager himself, realised that and encapsulated his experience of 18 years into an ebook “27 Program Management Interview Techniques to Ace that Dream Job Offer.” Equipped with a General Management Program from IIM, Bengaluru, a Management 101 Certificate from Harvard Business School and a Leadership Certificate from the Wharton University, Saurabh has led numerous projects to fruition with his exemplary Program Management skills. With this ebook, he aims to help you, the aspirant, ace that dream job interview! Here he talks about his journey so far and other things that led to his writing this ebook. Read on -
Q – Tell us about your professional journey from Lucknow to Silicon Valley?
Answer - I belong to Lucknow and was born and brought up there. After completing my schooling, I went to pursue my engineering degree in Computer Science, followed by a General Management Program from IIM Bengaluru. While studying there, I realized the immense potential in program management and the way we can transform the client experience leading to customer’s delight. My company sent me to work in London, to spearhead a large project for a major company in Insurance sector. My journey into Program Management began from there. For about 8 years, I worked for major organisations in the UK. This is also where I received my PMP certification and have seen myself evolve as a program management professional. In due course, I was transferred to Silicon Valley headquarters of ‘Apple Inc.’ to take care of a critical assignment in 2015. Since then, I have been associated with major tech giants here to revolutionize their program management and take it to the next level. I currently work for “Intuit”. I am passionate towards learning and mentoring which led me to attain prestigious management certification from Harvard Business School and inspired me to mentor budding program management aspirants for their excellence in interviews.
Q – What steps did you take to achieve your dream career?
Answer - When I realised that Program Management is a practice where art, science and craft meet, I focused on establishing my foundation first in soft & hard skills. My professional curiosity and tendency to hit the ground running have led to positions of increasing responsibility in program management across the information technology (IT) industry in support of high-level commercial clients. I gained professional certifications like PMP and worked upon my soft skills, attending both physical and online trainings from well-established institutions. Today, I am a part of their alumni network, which further helps me to stay abreast of the latest in the industry. I also conduct and attend local meet-ups here in Silicon valley. This has increased my professional network dramatically. Last, but not the least, I observe and learn from the leaders I respect.
Q – What do you think is the most interesting aspect of Program Management? What is the future of Program Management in India & the World?
Answer - I believe the most interesting aspect of a Program manager is to nurture an environment of physiological safety, in which the team can innovate and be encouraged to voice its opinions. In order to achieve this, the Program Manager must communicate with the team as well as the stakeholders throughout the project and focus on solving problems. Another fascinating aspect is a Program Manager connects the thread between the work his team is doing with the impact it will create on the users throughout the world.
I believe the future of Program management is extremely bright as companies will always initiate projects to increase revenue, minimize cost, and nurture economy. Program Managers of the future will need to be multi-faceted and multi-skilled. The new professional reality demands a combination of technical and project management skills, leadership skills and strategic and business management skills – along with the ability to learn and keep pace with technology. So, in one word, the program manager would need to be an all-rounder.
Q – What motivated you to write this ebook? How long did it take to complete and what do you want to achieve from it?
Answer - The real motivation behind writing this book kindled within me after taking numerous interviews for program management positions over the years. We, as Program managers, do highly complex work and carry a lot of responsibility. It’s a coveted job for many professionals around the world, and for many, it’s definitely a dream job. But during the interviews, I observed that people with such amazing skill sets are failing as they are not able to organize their thoughts for a coherent response to the question asked. The fact is, giving a good interview is an art. You need structure, a bit of charisma, and a sprinkle of insider knowledge.
It took me almost a year to write this book and through this book I want to connect with my PM community and provide them with 27 laser-sharp questions with comprehensive and well- written answers that will impress any employer, and help them to succeed & get their dream job.
Q – How is this ebook different from other books of its kind?
Answer - With these 27 questions and answers, you will be absolutely ready to impress your future employer and snag your dream job. This ebook is also equipped with real-life practical examples which are relatable and contain applicable techniques – so it is not only meant to get you motivated through text but also offers practical examples for you to implement with your answers. Every answer has a pro-tip which is very useful to formulate your own response. This is exactly what you need for a meticulous preparation of a great interview.
Q – What is the biggest challenge that you’ve faced so far in your work life?
Answer - The biggest challenge which I usually face is getting an alignment between all the cross-functional teams in order to achieve a business objective and managing the dependencies. I use effective Program Management techniques to overcome these challenges. In this ebook too, I have a reference answer to this particular challenge. Somewhere during this process, I’ve also realized that for being a good Program manager, you need to be a good human being first!
Q – What are your future plans? Would you continue writing?
Answer - I never ever imagined that I would write a book one day. But here is my first edition. I intend to take away all the pain points faced during the interview by my fellow Program managers, project managers and Scrum Masters through this book and take their preparation to next level. I will wait for the testimonies and accordingly prepare for my next book.
Q –What would be the top 3 tips you would like to share with an aspirant about to appear for the most important interview of his life?
Answer - I would tell that aspirant:
1. Be Succinct: Make more impact using fewer words. You have a limited time during the interview.
2. Share your accomplishments instead of just the tasks you did as a PM in response to the interview question. Bring metrics into your response.
3. Focus on the OUTCOME of the program rather than output. Bring empathy in your response, one of the most important qualities of a Program manager.
Q – Your ebook is about helping Program Management aspirants crack the interview? What would be your advice to someone who cannot crack it even after all the help?
Answer - I would say never ever to be discouraged, as failure is a step to success. Reflect on the responses where you were not so confident and re-write them in a more impactful way and practise them speaking in front of a friend or a family member and take their feedback. Make your foundation like a bamboo tree. I would like to leave you with this parable of bamboo tree: “After the seed is planted for this tree you see nothing, absolutely nothing for 4 years. During those four years all the growth is underground In a massive, fibrous root structure that spreads deep and wide in the earth. But in the fifth year the same bamboo tree grows upto ninety feet.” Similarly, we work, we invest time and effort and do everything we can possibly do to clear the interviews and sometimes we don’t see anything for weeks, months or even years. But if you are patient and keep working hard, that ‘fifth year’ will come and you will be astonished at the growth and change you see taking place”. All the Best!
Book link - https://www.amazon.com/kindle/dp/B08BJDBC7T
Website - https://pmoaspirants.com/Disclaimer: The views, suggestions and opinions expressed here are the sole responsibility of the experts. No Forbes India journalist was involved in the writing and production of this article.