Product Love Podcast: Rohini Pandhi of Square

This week on Product Love, I sat down with Rohini Pandhi, a product manager at Square, the payments giant.

Rohini studied engineering but quickly realized that she was more interested in solving business problems instead of technical ones. After a stint as a technology consultant and an MBA, she ended up transitioning to product management, where, she says, she was able to combine her passions and skills.

Staying Hungry at Scale

We talked quite a bit about the difference between PMing at startups versus large companies, both of Rohini has experience in. At startups, she says, the role is all about breadth, a PM ends up doing everything from product marketing to sales to engineering. As the company scales, or if you move into a larger company, the main challenge, and responsibility of the product manager, is communication.

For her, it’s been fun to work at startups, where teams are “lean and hungry.” When you’re going from 0 to 1, she says, it’s okay to break things, but as you grow, you want to maintain that hunger and passion of the early days with a bit more responsibility. Now, working at a large company like Square, and on a product that is about people’s money, you have to practice responsible innovation: fail fast, but don’t break things.

Extraverted Introverts

We talked about the democratization of meetings through what Rohini describes as a documentation-heavy culture at Square. She explains that as companies grow, PMs can no longer easily communicate across every department, and so good documentation goes a long way towards keeping internal stakeholders on track. What’s more, documentation empowers introverts, says Rohini. It allows those who aren’t the loudest, or most senior, to contribute to what might otherwise be intimidating meetings. For introverted PMs, this is extremely helpful, although Rohini says that even if you’re an introvert, the job does require forced extroversion.

We also talked metrics, time management, and specialization of roles.