How Mentorship and Intuit’s Rotational Product Management (RPM) Program Launched My Career

Sponsored by Intuit, Inc

Shirbi Ish-Shalom

Photo courtesy of Intuit.

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Fairygodboss
April 20, 2024 at 7:44AM UTC

“My job feels like an exciting, new adventure all the time,” says Shirbi Ish-Shalom, a product manager at Intuit—the global technology platform behind TurboTax, QuickBooks, Mint, Credit Karma and Mailchimp. She applied as a new grad to the Rotational Product Management (RPM) program and has since worked her way to becoming what she likens to “the conductor of an orchestra.”

“To an outsider, we often look like the idiot waving a stick around, not playing an instrument or actually contributing to the symphonic creation,” she explains. “However, in reality, we play an important role in bringing the (figurative) music to life — with our own creative, lyrical spin serving as a guide to our teams.”

There are so many facets of her job that bring her joy, she tells Fairygodboss. She loves the creative license to explore different problems and solutions, and she thrives off of the collective energy of her team that propels their creations to new heights. She also adds that she appreciates the ability to help each other grow every day.

We caught up with her to learn more about what the RPM program provided her, the benefits of being a mentor and mentee, and Intuit’s ongoing support of her career goals. Here’s what she had to say. 

Tell us a bit about your current role as a PM. What is it like to work in Product Management at Intuit, and what is your favorite part of your job?

At Intuit, there is emphasis on the value of the product craft. Even on your first day, you feel empowered. The culture of the product management organization at Intuit sees the product manager as the ultimate decision maker to bring the disparate threads of user experience, engineering excellence, and analytics data together to help maximize our positive impact on the lives of the people we serve. The trust that my cross-functional team puts in my decision-making is a huge responsibility, but also an incredible opportunity, which I feel grateful to have every day.

How has Intuit supported your career as a PM thus far?

Product management at Intuit over the last 3.5 years has been a wild roller coaster ride of incredible opportunities.

Through the support of the Rotational Product Management program and my internal teams, I’ve gotten the opportunity to travel and speak at multiple conferences, learn what it means to build product for international audiences (like Mexico and Australia), take Spanish classes and user-experience design courses, teach as a data science educator, and engage with an incredible community of other product managers that help me figure out what kind of product manager I want to be.

Overall, Intuit has always been supportive of any and all directions my curiosity decides to take me. The beauty of product management is that there are infinite vectors of growth that can inform your perspective to make you a better, more holistic steward of your product for your customers. So, for me, there is always an area to learn, improve, and grow yourself.

How have you been a mentor to others on your team? Did that happen organically or through a program?

I’m definitely still fairly early on in my career, so I’d say I probably take more mentorship than I give! I’m insanely grateful for all the humans who have contributed their time, energy and care to helping me grow.

In small moments where I do find myself giving advice, it is usually through meeting newer product managers in our Intuit RPM community. Although, to be honest, I still think I’m learning more from them than they are learning from me.

What are the top 1-5 traits that you think a good mentor should have?

  1. Psychological safety

  2. Reserving the right to be better

  3. Encouraging asking “why” and celebrating “I don’t know”

  4. Good, direct, and actionable feedback

  5. Active listening

What advice do you have for mentees and mentors on how to make the best of this relationship?

I think being as intentional as possible to maximize your relationships with both your mentors and mentees.

From a tactical perspective, I usually spend my first mentoring session brainstorming what topics the mentee would like to learn and what topics the mentor feels uniquely capable of helping with. Usually, together we can come up with a prioritized list of topics to help guide our future conversations. Some examples of topics I’ve covered in the past include:

  • Product Management Competencies 

  • Using design thinking as a PM at Intuit

  • Conferences and other learning opportunities

  • Networking at Intuit and outside of Intuit 

  • Work-life balance, stress management, and how to handle team members with different personalities

  • How to set measurable personal development goals, including setting one-, three-, and five-year goals

  • Presenting, speaking in front of groups / leadership

Once the mentee/mentor has the curated list of topics prioritized, we will create a plan where we spend one to two sessions on each topic. Usually, both the mentor and mentee will do some pre-work to make sure our time together is as useful as possible.

However, I think it is also important to emphasize that sometimes the relationship of a mentor/mentee can evolve beyond these tactical and practical topics. Often, I’ve found myself discussing the implications of being a woman or mixed-race person in the workplace with a mentor. Sometimes these topics don’t come up as part of the initial brainstorm list because they are much more personal. It’s important to let each side come as they are to allow for space for more organic conversations too.

In your own words, can you describe the Rotational Product Manager (RPM) program? What is this program’s goal and what is your involvement in the program?

The rotational product management (RPM) program is an accelerated program to introduce early career product managers to the product management role. At Intuit, we currently have three rotations over two years with built-in time for training. 

Currently, we have:

  • One month of onboarding to Intuit/product management

  • 11-month rotation learning foundational PM skills

  • Training interspersed to help grow foundational skills with PMs across Intuit

  • Two six-month rotations to continue expanding scope and exposure to different team/PM styles

The goal of the program is to help foster the next generation of product managers. Product management traditionally is not something you can major in during university, so it is important to take folks we think can grow into the role from disparate fields and have the program help foster their foundational product management skills/grow their careers.

I graduated from the RPM program in 2020. Now, I hang out with the current cohorts as an alum/friend. Sometimes, I will offer formal training as part of the program, but more often than not I find myself just lending my ear to help people feel heard and validated as they navigate their first jobs.

How has the RPM program helped with your own career?

The RPM program has really been my launch pad. I learned everything I know about product management from my peers and mentors at Intuit. All my experiences and opportunities have been opened to me because others believed in me. I appreciate the RPM program taking a chance on me when I truly knew nothing and set me up with opportunities to make an impact to help the customers we serve.

What are you most proud of about your participation in the RPM program?

My contribution to the community! Especially in a pandemic-ridden, digital world, the RPM program has been a lovely community to participate in and help foster.

Do you think other companies would benefit from similar programs to the RPM program?

Yes! Product management is a skill that we need to continue fostering in tech. It would be wonderful if more companies committed to helping empower the next generation of product managers.

If you’re interested in learning more about career opportunities at Intuit, please join our Talent Community today. 

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