In September 2020, Shenali Parikh was hired as the first full-time product manager at STRATIS IoT, an Manayunk-based IoT device maker and management platform. Just a year later, she’s already accomplished a long-held career goal: managing a direct report.
“Honestly, I’m so glad that I made the decision to come to STRATIS because I don’t know if I would have had these experiences at this stage of my career working at another company,” Parikh said. “I’m very grateful to be here.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Parikh was let go from her previous role at a startup in Boston, where she lives.
So what pushed her to take a remote job she’d just learned about for a company 300 miles away? The team members she met during the interview process.
“Seeing the passion that everybody had for the product itself really convinced me,” she said. “I wanted something that was still startup-y but also I kind of liked the fact that we were going to go through a big growth right when I joined.” (In 2020, STRATIS was acquired by Texas-based software company RealPage.)
Read more for a Q&A with Parikh about settling in at STRATIS and where she wants her career to go.
What was it like being the first full-time PM?
I’ve had almost five years experience as a product manager so that part wasn’t necessarily difficult. It was a learning process getting acclimated with the product. I just asked a lot of questions, and someone was always willing to talk it through.
Being the first full-time PM was a challenge, and I enjoyed it. I felt like I wasn’t being put into a tiny little box. There was definitely a support structure but also a lot of room and encouragement for me to make the job what I want.
What stands out to you about STRATIS’ working environment?
People are just super willing to go out of their way to help each other. Plus, there were also a lot of people reaching out across teams to connect with me, which I think is really unique because it wasn’t just my direct team helping me because they have to. Everyone’s willingness to help, no matter what, is a really unique part of STRATIS.
Accomplishing your goal of having a direct report this quickly is exciting. What kind of manager do you try to be?
I definitely don’t want to be a manager that is too busy to support their team. I want to be the type of manager who enables my team to succeed. I want them to feel challenged. I want them to grow and succeed. I want them to feel valued. Those elements take time to build, but it is my overall goal as a manager.
Where do you want your career to go at STRATIS?
Well, I would love to move to Philadelphia soon to be close to HQ and the team. I’m one of those people that likes heading to the office.
I really want to be able to take on more strategic initiatives and keep learning. The interesting thing about tech is, it’s so complex that you always feel like you don’t know enough and there’s always so much more to learn. I really want to be able to focus more on strategic, cross-team initiatives and not be a silo without disrupting the cohesion of our current structure. This is something STRATIS is super supportive of.
That’s something that stands out about STRATIS, since it’s often difficult to have conversations with your boss about broad, overall goals, but I’ve never felt that kind of barrier here.