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Overcoming the Imposter Syndrome to Land More Opportunities

Customers
Ownership
Cloud
Cross-Functional Collaboration
Health / Stress / Burn-Out

11 March, 2022

Paramita Bhattacharjee
Paramita Bhattacharjee

Vice President of Product Management at Early Warning

Paramita Bhattacharjee, Vice President of Product Management at Early Warning, shares her experience fighting the imposter syndrome to take ownership of a significant opportunity within her organization.

Struggling with the Imposter Syndrome

Previously in my career, I worked at a startup that was completely redesigning its app. The first version of the app was an MVP, but after receiving customer feedback, we saw areas that we could improve. At a leadership level, we were involved in meetings with the CEO – finding the best way to redesign the app.

The primary responsibility landed on me and my peer, the Head of Design. Both of us had our perspectives, mine was product-focused, and his was design. The CEO left it up to us to decide who wanted to take ownership of the redesign, as it was a lot of work and would include managing it E2E starting from UX to back end technology. The Head of Design expressed interest to lead the redesign, and while he had a strong perspective in design, he was not fully versed with the product nitty-gritties and the back-end technical infrastructure, which impacted the front-end design.

Taking Ownership of the Redesign

Taking on the Challenge:

After my colleague had expressed interest, I felt a stir inside of me. Both my inner voices (negative and positive) became extremely active and there was a battle I was going through internally. I questioned myself on why I stayed back from taking the lead immediately while I knew that I was the more deserving and able candidate. I would be the one to see it through end-to-end elegantly starting from customer pain points to the technical infrastructure back end. All night I contemplated my decision – it haunted me that someone else would be a potential to lead redesigning a product that I understood well and could bring a greater impact. Additionally, he would have to completely rely on my inputs from a product and technical perspective to understand the infrastructure.

Early the following day, I went to the CEO and explained to her why I should lead the redesign. The reasoning behind my decision was:

  • While the redesign was a major design overhaul, the customer feedback, product inputs, and technical infrastructure would directly impact the design which I was closest to and understood the best.

The CEO ensured that I recognized what I was getting myself into – days, nights, and weekends dedicated to this project. At the end of the day, I knew that I was up for the challenge and opportunity.

I had acknowledged that the first day I was dealing a little bit with the imposter syndrome – unsure if I could complete the redesign. The more I thought about I knew that if I passed on this project, I was giving away an opportunity that would benefit my larger career. I also had to take up this challenge to pave a path for the upcoming leadership as well who were looking up to me in their careers.

Redesigning the App:

It took around three months to completely redesign the app. What that meant for me was endless workdays and working through many nights. This was pre-COVID, so I was in the office until very late.

Even though I was more senior, I stayed with the details, working with the engineers to understand what the architecture was. Overall I had a challenging but enjoyable experience that proved to be an opportunity for growth.

Second Guessing Opportunities

  • Speaking up at the right time is essential. This experience taught me that I shouldn’t second guess myself in terms of capability – instead, take the opportunity to grow and push myself.
  • When I gave the CEO my decision that I wanted to lead the redesign, she was very impressed. In a subsequent board meeting, she mentioned the experience in a positive light – confirming that I made the right decision. Sometimes to gain opportunities, you need to fight through the imposter syndrome.

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