If you’re lucky, your parents take the first step for you. They lead as an example, so you don’t have to look for motivation.

My father’s hard work and determination to make his company the leading transport and logistics business in India sparked my entrepreneurial mindset. I noticed that one major impediment in his journey was his lack of technical knowledge.

My Masters in Mathematics and Bachelors in Electrical and Electronics Engineering at Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani (one of the top 5 engineering colleges in India) gave me the right engineering skills.

However, I knew before I could make the leap into entrepreneurship, I would need to adopt a strong business acumen.

Masters of engineering management at Duke proved to be a great decision. Duke offered much more than I expected – excellent coursework, cultural exposure and many smart people (students & professors) to learn from. I did my best to remain confident with every decision as I moved forward in an entirely different culture.

My drive to get real world experience of starting my own company motivated me along with four other students to work on Venture Map, a web-based networking resource for Entrepreneurs. We made it to the semifinals at Duke’s startup challenge and also found incubators to support us. Rather than take an immediate jump, we decided not to pursue this opportunity as we were still confused college students who wanted to aim higher.

My strong background in mathematics, understanding of technology and business acumen led me into a successful career in strategic consulting and marketing research at Optimal Strategix Group (OSG), a company specializing in turning in-depth customer data into actionable insights for their client’s most important customers.

My experience at OSG helped me understand the value of combining consumer insights, analytics and understanding of markets to define product development and go-to-marketing strategies. In turn, I would discover this is one of the most sought after skills for Silicon Valley startups.

To further develop the skills needed to start a technology company and establish a better network, I decided to move to Silicon valley – the city where dreams happen. At that time, I didn’t even know what growth hacking was, but startups were struggling to grow, and they turned to people with my skill set.

Move Inc. offered me a unique opportunity – one of the three-member team trying to impact traditional product management with a new test-and-learn culture. I had originally applied for a position that strictly dealt with analytics, but as I learned more about growth, I knew my T-shaped skill set would fit better there.

Combining all the learnings so far with guidance from our VP, we implemented a growth cycle at Move: Identify opportunities based on  revealing consumer insights → test these new product ideas → analyze the results → consumer insights. We also learned that the tools we use also play a key role in our success.

Some useful resources for us were: SurveyGizmo, Qualaroo, Google analytics for insights; Optimizely for targeting and testing. Our tool stacked coupled with our customer oriented and data-driven mindset provided significant returns. In a short period, the small growth team became visible and turned into a growth consulting wing for all other departments in the company.

Just at the right time, a new opportunity came my way: growth product manager at JustAnswer, an international leader in connecting experts that can provide advice within minutes on any issue customers need. 

With the best resources at my fingertips, a passion for marketing, and a strong understanding of analytics, I helped steer growth at JustAnswer to lead various product lines down successful tracks.

To do so, I used the methodology of identifying opportunities based on consumer insights that we developed at Move Inc. This meant a disciplined approach to product building and testing to increase personalization and remove friction.

At first, I was primarily focused on growth hacking our different offerings related to customer’s questions. Based on customer analytics, up selling the right products at the right time helped significantly improve the revenues from this small upcoming product.

As my career progressed at JustAnswer, I began to shift focus on their membership, especially with increasing customer lifetime value. This meant numerous rounds of testing, creating segments, understanding acquisition channels, lot of customer research and diving deep into analytics.

One of the key drivers for growth for membership was identifying a better positioning for the product. This simple notion helped grow our membership by 30% in 6 months. It was just a start to building a growth product!

Along my journey of becoming a high-level growth marketer, I’ve crossed paths with many truths including that expert, and data-driven marketers are hard to find. It’s rare to discover someone who’s willing never to stop learning about psychology, software, traction channels, UX design, analytics, and frameworks. Moreover,  someone who can stay creative without losing their discipline.

As growth marketing becomes a more well-known field, we’ll see an increase of jobs for those who have a T-shaped skill set. They will become leaders in companies and driving growth for innovative products. I wouldn’t be surprised if they gradually become the most sought-after talent for creating the next big thing.

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For those interested in exploring a growth marketing career, know that it takes a genuine curiosity to continue learning and an extreme flexibility to adapt, to perform exceptionally well. Many refer to growth marketers as unicorns with the only difference being that it’s a growing population.

For many of us in the startup industry, we see growth marketers as expert problem solvers. They have an extraordinary ability to break down large problems into small ones, then prioritize which steps to take. In words, this sounds simple; in reality, it’s hard – countless hours of work, research, and testing.

Each problem may have thousands of variables. But if we study each one to change in benefit of the customer, then we not only create solutions, we open people’s eyes to see great potential in everything around them.

As I keep making a difference in each place I work, I hope I can inspire many young girls to takes risk to find the work they’ll love.

So one day, they can take claim to changes they’re proud of.

So one day, they can lead by example when their daughters look for one.

So one day, all of us can confidently break through any ceiling.

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