Tanya Naik: My Eleven Commandments Helped Me Get Off To A Flying Start

My eleven commandments helped me get off to a flying start: Tanya Naik

By Tanya Naik | January 14, 2021

As I complete one month at Pine Labs today, I heave a sigh of relief. Relief that the opportunity set out in front of me was way bigger than the fear of the unknown. That opportunity being - building and scaling an Indian fintech that one can take to the world. Easy peasy!

Joining a new workplace while "e-working" is like walking on eggshells, constantly careful and trying to be as diligent as one can, relying sometimes on vague cues; But, as Denzel Washington said "You've gotta do what you've gotta do"!

So here's my account of what I did in my first 30 days of joining Pine Labs:

1. Getting onboarded

This was one experience of delight. With a neat agenda starting 9 am on a Monday, e-meet/ greet culminating into a real handover of a fully set-up and ready to operate laptop by 2 pm. New faces on calls, new plans and new people, great work awaited.

2. Obsessive planning

Wanting to hit the road from day 1 is great, but what's your plan on not crashing midway? Plan some more! Product management tips aside, I tried to set in a 1- year plan for myself, the team, the product, in my first two weeks here, some of it had been thought through even before I got here. More importantly, set out your own goals, without waiting for someone to share those with you. Be aggressive here, especially when you have a team that you inherit and one that looks up to you. Break it down to as much detail as you can, people appreciate thought process in addition to outcome. Explaining things simply, cannot stress this enough.

3. KYC (Know Your Company)

I setup approximately 50 1:1s and still counting. An organization with a 20-year heritage isn't easy to decipher. Getting to know the company and grabbing its pulse - that's mission critical early on. Talk to people across teams, vintage, hierarchies, it is they who run the show today after all. Don't forget to prepare well especially for what you want out of every interaction. And remember, one can be dazzled and inspired when you least expect it. A 30-min conversation with a retail sales executive in my first week helped answer many questions I had on omnichannel retail.

4. Talent scouting

New business, new product, old me and more importantly, only me! Whilst the belief in yourself is great, a one-woman show is one of burnout. I came onboard with a plan to hire and interview I did, across organizations of all sizes. Every interview taught me to fine tune my own plan. The existing teams working with me, got to know them better, and energize them towards our plan. Made them part of the planning exercise too.

5. Educate yourself

What better way to stay relevant! Whether its reading or listening, treat it like its training camp. Listen hard, catch cues, write your notes and filter out what you can apply to your product. I found my network of product and technology support groups of immense help here. Moreover, there is no such thing as "its not my job" anymore; try to comprehend things beyond your existing skill sets too, for instance- from technical writing and designs to sales planning, I worked on it all.

6. Know your USP

Why you, why this product, why now? Obsess with these answers till you are happy with it yourself. Research across people within and outside the company, your mentor if there is one (find one if there is none). Try and poke holes in your plan and dig your own way out.

7. Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize

So many things, so little time. Ruthlessly prioritize. Important to help, but more important to filter out what's important to YOUR goals. Set out non negotiables, like say your team catch up, follow ups with a merchant or another team, exercise (Yes, that too!)

8. Broom those cobwebs away

Coming from highly regimented and structured workplaces, gives you little time to truly digress outside of the known. Initial days here taught me to take those learnings and apply them to the unknown. People love getting a sense of direction and you can be that guiding light.

9. Get set launch

Many exciting things have already happened in this one month. Pine Labs scaled new geographies, raised a round of funding, revamped their website, and is poised for more launches in the new year. Phew! What goes behind it: immense planning, countless deliberations/ pivots and a real symphony like orchestrator devising the musical extravaganza. I decided I want to be that for my line of business and set out planning my launch too. Speaking to team members who worked on previous launches helped here.

10. Embarrassing questions? There are none

I find this one particularly challenging. Its initial days and you want to make an impression, but what about the tons of questions you have in your mind, silly or not. Refer pt. 3 here, the more people you meet, the more you know who you can reach out to. My mentor at Citi once told me, no one knows your own presentation and your agenda better than you. So don't forget to keep that confident streak on.

11. No time for incommunicado

This really culminates into my sign off and is the thread binding each of my points above. Why wait for a meeting invite when you can WhatsApp and start a conversation first? There is no reason to stay quiet, unless of course you have been asked to.

With these 11 commandments, here I am, beginning my month 2 at Pine Labs, still obsessed about the opportunity and still figuring out the details!