Harsh Budholiya is the Product Marketing Manager at UpGuard, a cybersecurity risk management software that helps organizations manage their own cyber risks and vendor risks.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
In my current role, I am leading the Product Marketing efforts at UpGuard.
UpGuard is a cybersecurity risk management software that helps organizations manage their own cyber risks and vendor risks. UpGuard is on a mission to protect the world’s data, and I firmly believe that information security is a necessity in this digital age.
As the first product marketer, my role is extensive. It covers areas like product positioning and messaging, persona, go-to-market, launch events, product adoption, competitive intelligence, customer research, product-focused content, product-related web pages, and more. It’s an exciting time as Product Marketing is now evolving into a function at UpGuard, and I’ll have more help in the future.
Like many product marketers, I didn’t know that Product Marketing Manager (PMM) was a role before applying to UpGuard. I learned many of those skills while launching and scaling new B2C and B2B products across multiple geographies in the APAC region during my time at Ola, a global ridesharing app.
There was no PMM title for this kind of work at Ola. Before switching to UpGuard, I did a couple of courses to bridge some skill gaps and deeply understand the product marketing world. Now that I’ve found the product marketing role, I love it because it brings out the best of my skills and interests.
In a previous life, I worked for a few years in Operations & Supply Chain Management and even have a Masters in Operations Management and a Bachelors in Electronics & Communication Engineering. It was a good start but not my professional calling.
2) What does a day in your life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
Most days, I start between 8:30 to 9 am. Since many of our team members are in the US, we usually have to begin with meetings to make the most of the common time across time zones. Depending on the day, these meetings will be a mix of:
- Org-wide operational updates or functional updates
- Weekly meetings like product catch-up, positioning and messaging, launch event sync
- Monthly meetings like pricing and product roadmap planning
- External meetings like customer interviews for case studies/ win /loss, launch event briefings, etc.
- Review meetings, training sessions or 1:1s
Usually, the meetings are over by 11 am, and then I take a small coffee break. Then I’ll spend the caffeine energy over the next hour before lunch clearing my slack messages and providing task updates on asana. And I usually block a couple of hours after lunch for focus work on the 1 or 2 important things I’ve planned for the day like:
- Creating new or revising existing product related pages on the website
- Preparing content for the sales and marketing teams like product demos, datasheets, case studies, etc.
- Communicating product updates to our users via email, social or in-app messaging
- Launch event setup, promotion, and coordination
- Evaluating buyer persona titles, segments, pain points, and more
- Analyzing the competitive landscape, etc.
Before I wrap up work around 5:30 pm, I usually spend the last hour preparing any meeting updates for the following morning or reprioritizing the rest of the week if required.
I’d say the above represents around 70-80% of my workdays. But there are some crazy days (even weeks) with some early mornings or late nights due to meetings from different geographies or an additional project.
The key to maintaining balance is to ruthlessly prioritize impactful activities and drop others (I’m still learning this!). And if you cannot drop anything, start looking for resources (human or otherwise) to help you before you burn out.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
Oh, yes! Upguard has a flexible work culture, and I’m very grateful for it. I think, even before the pandemic began, around half of the team was working remotely from different global locations.
Before the recent 4-month long lockdown in Sydney, I went to the office only a couple of days every week and will continue to do so. On days when I am not commuting to the office, I use the time to exercise.
Additionally, the extra time that flexible work offered in my mornings has helped me develop a daily reading and meditation practice over the last year. Even the time saved from the evening commute is now an opportunity for an evening walk with my wife.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
At a broad level, a balanced day for me is a combination of me-time (usually mornings), work-time (workday), and family time (usually evenings).
At a deeper level, a fulfilling me-time means taking care of the mind, body, and spirit through meditation, exercise, and reading (not to be confused with religion). Having a satisfactory work-time means building great professional relationships to deliver something meaningful at work every day.
Having good family time means finding joy in everyday things with your partner (or kids, pets, parents, even roommates) like going for a walk or a drive, cooking and having dinner at home or eating out, watching TV, or playing games.
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
I think in the past 12 months, I’ve been more connected to myself than ever. The underlying changes that have helped build that connection are habits like daily-ish meditation, exercise, and reading.
They help me disconnect from work and other demands of the world and stay present in the moment. Now, on days or weeks when I don’t follow those habits, I can feel the difference in my sleep, at work, and in my relationships.
6) Do you have any favorite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
In books, my personal favorites are Sapiens and The Power of Now. And some business books that I highly recommend are Zero to One, Product Led Growth, and Obviously Awesome.
In podcasts, my personal favorites are The Tim Ferriss Show, Woice with Ankur Warikoo, and Trained by Nike. And two podcasts where I am learning a lot in my profession these days are SaaStr and The Product Marketing Experts.
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
My iPhone is definitely at the top of that list. However, I’ve managed to half my daily screen time from 3 to 1.5 hours over the last year using features like the do not disturb mode at night and avoiding my phone as the first thing in the morning. I also use my Airpods Pro throughout the day to listen to podcasts, music or to attend video calls, and I love the experience!
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
I would love to hear from Tim Ferriss and Jay Shetty. They have built massive personal brands with millions of followers and regularly produce some of the best meaningful and thoughtful content on the internet. They’ve also written excellent books on how they do it, but it would be great to know how they balance their personal lives.
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
Finding the balance between work and life is a lifelong journey. It has ups and downs, days when work takes priority and others when your life outside work does but an excess of one over the other for an extended duration is a symptom that you need balancing!
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