Meet Sharat-Finance Rotational Analyst turned Product Manager

Coming out of college studying finance and marketing, I realized I didn’t want to go the typical investment banking route after talking to mentors and friends that had gone that way.  I instead wanted to land at a place that taught me what it took to actually build a product with enormous reach and to run a business around it.  So after graduating from the University of Michigan, I ended up at Microsoft in the Finance Rotation Program (FRP). 


The FRP is a two year rotation program filled with four rotations in different areas of the company.   I thought it would be a fantastic way to understand what it really took to run a huge technology company and it was.  Among the highlights were the time I spent in the Entertainment and Devices Customer Service and Support finance group and the Windows Strategic Analytics group where I analyzed the impact of iPads in the commercial sector (excluding consumer) on the Windows business and also drove the long range planning for the Windows Academic sector. 


After my time in Windows, I joined the Advertiser Publisher Solutions (APS) group where I worked in product planning.  Windows gave me a high-level strategic perspective and APS offered a much more detailed view of what the product roadmap looked like and what we needed to do keep up and do better than competitors.  While this rotation wasn’t a finance role, it helped me gain the experience I wanted when I was first looking at job opportunities; I wanted to understand what happens in the background to run a huge company and then understand what it took to actually build and manage a product.  The last rotation in APS helped me fulfill the later.  While I was there, I worked on a new Windows Live Mail ad scenario, a segmentation analysis used by planners, a financial template to help prioritize different features, and a competitive analysis of mobile ad networks.


After my two years in the rotation program, I realized I was very interested in learning more about what it took to actually build and manage a product (which meant I was probably going to have to leave finance).  I was lucky enough to find a job opening on MSN’s business planning and analysis team where I’m able to utilize the core finance and analytic skills I picked up during my two years.  It’s been a few weeks since I’ve started now but I’m working on MSN’s mobile experience for consumers, an analysis to understand what PC page view cannibalization looks like with mobile and slate devices, and supporting search (MSN drives a lot of search queries on Bing). So far it’s been incredibly exciting!


If you are interested in working on a dynamic team with global reach, the MSN team currently has three roles open.  We’re hiring for a Director, MSN Business Planning, a Product Manager, and a Sr Product Planner.  This is a fascinating time to be working in the consumer internet space.  I hope you’ll think about joining us!