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Pavandeep Kalra
Pavandeep Kalra

Pavandeep Kalra

Head of Product Management- Data and Analytics



Pavandeep Kalra is a member of:

- Expert
The Journey So Far
I am currently the Head of Product Management and Strategy for Big Data
and Analytics in Nokia, focused on an effort to create “smart data” for
Nokias location based platform to provide millions of users with
insights they can trust everyday, everywhere. Prior to Nokia I was a
Senior Manager of Analytics at Oracle, focused on predictive demand
forecasting for large retailers such as Wal-Mart and JC Penney.
Initially in my career I was also a co-founder and strategy head of a VC
funded early stage startup, and have also written proprietary software
for Goldman Sachs.  I have over eight pending patent applications, and
also am frequently invited to give keynotes at various industry
conferences.  I graduated from the Wharton and Engineering Schools of
the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
Decisions That Mattered
Probably the most important decision I made early in my career was to
leave Goldman Sachs and focus on startups and entrepreneurship. Even
though my first endeavor failed, I learnt a lot of skills from strategy
planning, product management, fund raising, to operational execution.
This is extremely hard to do in normal corporate settings.  I think this
was the most important decision in my career, and helped form the basis
of future rapid growth in my career. 

Secondly I think its
important to follow your passion.  There were points in my career where I
was offered more money, but the opportunity wasnt very interesting
personally for me.   I made decisions to move on in those instances.  I
think having that conviction helps because when you do stuff, you do it
with passion and not as a basis of a career forming decision. This is a
key ingredient for success.
Turning Points
Probably the first and THE key one was in college when I decided to get a
double degree one in economics from Wharton, and the other in
engineering.  I think that formed a inflection point for most of my
career in business management within the technology companies.  
Work and Role: Then and Now
I currently focus mostly on strategy and product management for a wide
variety of data and analytics products within Nokia.  In my previous
roles I was focused on operational execution as well.  I realized at a
point in my career that I probably brought most value from the business
side of the things than on the operational execution, and so decided to
focus on that side.
Trends to Watch Out For
Data is exploding at a rapid clip.  I think I read somewhere that we now
create more data every 2 days than was created till 2003.  This means
that a lot of various innovations and startups will focus on creating
value out of the data.  If you know data, and know how to exploit it for
business in creative ways you can make a lot of value for whatever
domain you are in.
What I Learnt Along The Way
Focus on creating value for the business.  If all the decisions you make
strategic, tactical or any in between have a basis on creating value
for the business and your customers you will do well for yourself and
your shareholders.
What I Learnt Along The Way
Focus on creating value for the business.  If all the decisions you make
strategic, tactical or any in between have a basis on creating value
for the business and your customers you will do well for yourself and
your shareholders.
Has BI Changed Drastically?
I don’t think fundamentally it has.  I think the pace of change is
accelerating, but other than that I think the basic principles of
passion and creating value for the business and customers still trump
My Advice if You Are Starting Out
You need to enjoy creating products,  innovating and interacting with
customers. If you enjoy that, you will be a good fit for Product
Management and Strategy related roles. 

Two Years Down the Line
I see myself continuing to lead product management and strategy
organizations in years to come, probably in organizations which are
creating a ripple in the internet, mobile and social space. 
Must Focus Areas in the BI Domain
Data is the new currency.  Focus on understanding data in all sorts of
domains, and patterns that emerge out of them.  Many opportunities will
appear- if you have the passion for it.  I would not recommend focusing
too deeply in one area.  I find that wallowing in a specific area tends
to be counter productive.  There needs to be an ability to look at the
business objective, and then figure out what analysis needs to happen
with data.  The more disparate the skill-sets, the better the results
tend to be.
Do We Need Certifications?
No. I have never done any certifications and dont think they add much
value.  However going to good schools is an investment which is
extremely important to build various skills needed for being successful.
Recommendations for BI Professionals Who Want to Excel
I would recommend going to conferences which are user focused to
understand various ways data is getting used and how people think about
it in various domains.  Read as much as you can as well; online and
otherwise, but I dont think there is a magic book which will help you
excel in this field.
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