Looking at Product Management Differently

Parth Vasani waited a year to visit Motorola Solutions. Discover what he learned from company leaders during the unique experience.

Vasani on a behind-the-scenes tour at Motorola Solutions with classmates from Northwestern's Master of Engineering Management (MEM) program

The elevator opened on the 42nd floor of the West Loop highrise in downtown Chicago, and out walked Parth Vasani (MEM '24), realizing a dream he'd spent a year envisioning.

Vasani was on a behind-the-scenes tour at Motorola Solutions with classmates from Northwestern's Master of Engineering Management (MEM) program. When he was a prospective student, he read about a similar excursion MEM students took and looked forward to the opportunity to follow in their footsteps. 

Despite the time he spent thinking about this moment, he was still overwhelmed by the experience.

Vasani and his classmates interacted with organizational leaders and toured the Experience Center, seeing the company's latest innovations. Vasani said it would have been easy for the company to simply show off its newest creations, but instead, students got to interact with the products and learn their inner workings.

“They created an entire product-launch environment, with the doors opening and us getting an entire view of what exactly is happening,” he said. “They took us on an entire journey, and that was really fun.”

Vasani came to the MEM program from India with a plan to transition from mechanical engineering to project management or product management. The Motorola field trip reinforced his excitement about the transition.

It also gave him guidance for the discipline that will be needed to make the change.

“It’s an engineering team's work to identify solutions to problems, and it's product management's work to explore the problem side,” he said. “If we want to move toward product management, we need to gravitate toward the problem and not the solution."

A major highlight of the trip beyond the Experience Center was a visit with John Touvannas, Motorola’s vice president of engineering and product management.

“His wealth of experience and willingness to answer our different questions offered us a profound understanding of what it's like to be a product manager,” Vasani said.

Opportunities for behind-the-scenes looks at successful companies provide invaluable insights to MEM students and are a huge key to their development as future leaders, Vasani said.

The visit gave students a look at how the lessons they are learning in the classroom play out in the working world. That provides greater context for students to take into the rest of their time in the MEM program — as well as after they graduate.

“If I had not come to MEM and gained the skills and insights I've gotten, I don't think I'd be able to understand where I fit in the industry," Vasani said. “The visit to Motorola Solutions helped me focus my learnings better because now I'm thinking of product management from a practical, tactical standpoint, not just theoretical.”

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