Building Products With Empathy: Q&A With Kshitija Deshpande, Product Manager

We sat down with Kshitija Deshpande, Product Manager at Jun Group, to explore her career path from big tech to ad tech, and discover the fundamentals of building great products.
Hey Kshitija, I’m excited to get started! I find that most people in our industry don’t set out to work in ad tech. Can you tell me about your background and how you got here? 

Yes. From an education perspective, I’m actually a mechanical engineer — but never really practiced it. My first job out of college was in technology, working as a software developer with a bank. I worked on their legacy system which at the time used Java. After about four years, I decided I wanted to do more than coding. I came to the U.S. for my MBA at Carnegie Mellon University and landed my first job in product management. 

I worked at ServiceLink, which is a subsidiary of Fidelity in the real estate mortgage tech industry. I spent about two years there learning the ropes of product management by building and improving their proprietary appraisal management platform. 

From there, I joined Meta, working on Instagram Reels for about a year in their product operations group and moved to New York City, where I was exposed to the advertising industry and how I found Jun Group.

So you’ve touched a lot of different fields. How’s the transition been between banking, real estate, big tech, and now advertising? 

The heart of it has always been the same — product and tech. Across every role, I’ve always been passionate about user experience. I’ve worked with developers and engineering teams one-on-one to get things done. At Meta, a lot of my time was spent improving efficiency, building processes, tools, and prioritizing important issues. All of that applies to ad tech. Sure, the product is different, but all of these areas are needed to build a great digital ad solution. 

Totally. Can you kind of walk me through the fundamental parts of your role and what it means to be a product manager? 

To me, there are three core things that a product manager does. The first is cutting through ambiguity. We often get vague requirements, whether from a client or user, and it’s our job to translate these needs to the product. The second is prioritizing the most important things with the limited resources you have. And the third — and most important — is having empathy towards your technical teams, clients, and users. Having that understanding, communicating, and being there for them is really important for product managers. 

On that note, what are the most exciting products you’re working on right now? 

We’re building a new interface for our internal users to manage our podcast promotion campaigns, and creating new campaign features for our operations team that will be a game-changer. Of course, there’s not too much I can say publicly before we launch! 

Personally, I’ve always enjoyed building user-focused products, so these are really exciting to me. 

Do you have any tips or advice for people interested in a career in product management? 

Yes. Be open to working for smaller companies. It’s really cool to work for big tech, of course, but smaller firms give you a playground to be in the weeds, learn from the ground up, and build fundamental skills. Also, be prepared for a lot of meetings, talking to people, and figuring things out that no one else knows the answer to. 

And to wrap things up, what do you like to do outside of work? What are your hobbies and interests?

Being in New York, I love exploring the city. I’m always out and about, wandering, spending the day at the park, and enjoying whatever sun we get. I also like trying new cuisines, recipes, and cooking.

Thanks Kshitija, I bet we’ll get plenty of sun soon enough.

Follow Kshitia Deshpande, Product Manager, on LinkedIn.

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