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Career Path - Sid Gopinath, Product Manager at Namely

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What do the career path and the day-in-the-life look like for a Product Manager at Namely

We connected with Sid Gopinath to find out!

Interested in learning more about Namely? Make sure to check out their company page!

Where did you grow up?  What did your parents do for work?  

I grew up in Minnetonka, which is a suburb of Minneapolis, MN. My mom is a food scientist, and my dad is an engineer who transitioned more to the business side of the work as I grew up.

Where did you go to college?  What did you study and what were some of your initial jobs out of school?

I went to Duke University for college. When I arrived, I was convinced that I wouldn’t study computer science or engineering. That was my dad’s passion, not mine. But after I took Comp Sci 101, I was sold and ended up majoring in Computer Science.

But I also grew up as a creative, playing music and writing stories for as long as I can remember. So in addition to pursuing those passions as extracurriculars in school, I also got a degree in Policy Journalism & Media Studies.

What has attributed to your success thus far and has helped propel you to the position you have now?

I think my ability to adapt to new roles and shape those roles to fit what I want to do has been very helpful. I have had a rather unconventional career path at Namely.

I started as an engineer and was promoted up the ladder before jumping over to a brand new role that reported to our head of engineering, Dan Certner. As a Program Manager, I worked with Dan on improving processes across our organization, including incident management, escalations, and recruiting.

From there, I was able to make the jump to Product Management and have been here ever since then. Along the way, I think my flexibility has allowed me to quickly fall into a new role. It helps that the Namely team has always been welcoming and encouraging of these changes, supporting me as I crafted an unconventional path from engineering to product.

Can you share the high-level responsibilities of your current position as a Product Manager at Namely?

As a Product Manager at Namely, I am responsible for crafting and executing on our product roadmap. 

In addition to my work as a PM, I am very proud of the work I am able to do with DiveIN, our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee here at Namely. 

Any tips for someone considering a career in your field?

Don’t be afraid to take an unconventional path to this role. As much as various books would like you to believe there is a set way to become a Product Manager, it completely varies. I work with PMs who went to film school, were on Broadway, worked in Ops for years, moved over from Engineering, or did Product Management their whole careers. There is no set path.

Day in the Life

Coffee, tea, or nothing?

From a young age, chai has been a crucial part of my morning routine. A warm mug (always in a mug) of chai gets my brain moving. If it’s my dad’s homemade masala chai, all the better. But an afternoon cappuccino is always appreciated as well!

What time do you get into the office? 

Nowadays, I start work around 9:30am, but I’m in the office most of the day given that Namely is working from home!

What are three things that motivate you in your role?

  • Outsized Impact: As a PM, I get to work with extraordinarily talented teams and bring their work to a large audience. On top of that, I am lucky to be part of conversations around strategy and a broad roadmap.
  • Creativity: Solving problems and crafting new features requires creativity and innovation at all times and at all levels of this role. It’s thrilling.
  • Challenge: There are never enough hours in a day for all that needs to be done. It’s a challenge and can sometimes be overwhelming. But that challenge keeps me engaged and excited about the work. Being a Product Manager at Namely means that you’re always looking ahead to the next difficult problem.

Every day is different, but can you outline what a typical day looks like for you?

Typical days as a Product Manager at Namely are unpredictable and tend to keep me on my toes. In any given day, I will be working on a spec for our next big feature, helping to troubleshoot bug tickets and put out fires, hopping on user research calls with clients, discussing our broad strategy at a company level with leaders across the org, and collaborating with DiveIN (our Diversity & Inclusion committee) on DEI strategy at Namely.

What time do you head out of the office? 

It completely depends on the day. Most days, I try to log off by 6pm or so. But if we have a big release approaching, days understandably get longer.

Do you log back in at night or do you shut it down completely?  

In an ideal world, I shut down completely. I value my evenings as time to pursue my other passions. These include screenwriting, photography (which you can find on my website), and music as a member of indie R&B duo bluesoul and folk project Cedar Lake. And just as importantly, taking that time allows me to be more productive and effective the next day. Evenings provide me with time to let my work brain recharge while still building on the creativity and energy required to be successful as a product manager.

Any productivity hacks?

In college, I was known as someone who stayed up way too late way too often. I prided myself on it. But in the professional world, I’ve found that the success of my workday is often entirely dependent on how much sleep I get. Counterintuitively, to be the most productive, I sometimes need to stop work earlier than I’d like so that I get a full night of sleep. More and more, I am realizing that the biggest productivity hack is sleep.

Also, I have a playlist of instrumental music called “Pure Focus Instrumental.” Everyone needs a playlist like that for getting fully in the zone.

What are the 3 apps that you can’t live without?

  • TickTick: I have been on the search for an ideal To Do List for years. I was a huge fan of Wunderlist until Microsoft bought and deprecated it. After that, I dejectedly went through several alternatives that didn’t have what I needed. Earlier this year, I found TickTick, and I haven’t looked back. As an obsessive user of to do lists, this is excellent for sub-tasks, collaborative lists, smart text recognition, and scheduling. Love it.
  • Voice Memos: As a musician, I am constantly using this app and have been since I first got an iPhone. At this point, I have ~2200 voice memos. Every song I’ve written starts here, with a mumbled melody recorded into my iPhone mic. Apple has made it better over time, but the ability to quickly get down ideas is essential.
  • Instapaper: Clean, brilliant interface for saving and reading articles.

Who do you admire or call upon for professional advice?

Undoubtedly my parents. As Indian immigrants, they built their lives from the ground up together here. I am consistently floored by how intelligent and business-savvy they both are. My mom is the EVP of Innovation at an incredibly cool food startup called Meati in Boulder. My dad has been all over the world working on life-saving, groundbreaking projects in the defense industry and continues to consult on fascinating engineering problems. They amaze me. Whenever I have any sort of problem, I turn to them for advice and wisdom. And whenever I feel like my life is challenging, I think about how far they have come and how much they’ve accomplished despite the obstacles in their path.

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