Cross-Cultural Leadership is Product Management

Dilip Ramachandran is the founder/CEO and chief product therapist of Nimi and author of Gangsta Vision.


Dilip Ramachandran began his product-management career in the cloud. Working for a cloud BI company in the early 2010s, he was met with many questions about the very idea of putting data in the cloud. But he was attracted to the innovation and “muscled” his way in as a data analyst, where he struggled to find the right tools to succeed. And so began his quest to create great tools and great products. 

“A product is something that makes someone’s experience significantly simpler,” Dilip says. “And I kind of got hooked on that. I just wanted to do that. And I never stopped. I never looked back. Since then, even now, I am just kind of hooked, addicted to building software products and eliminating Excel. Excel is my enemy.”

With Excel in his rearview mirror, Dilip charted a course to product leadership. Along the way, of course, he’s learned a few things, not the least of which was overcoming cultural and social limitations as both an employee and a leader.

“It’s super-important that you treat people as people and be a bit more human about how you consider them as members of your team,” he says. “Pull them into the fold, then treat them as bodies — I think that’s the default people do with teams out of their culture. They don’t understand them. Then they tend to not treat them as an equal. That’s a big problem.”

Dilip employs his cross-cultural leadership experience in ways that maximize working with remote, sometimes far-flung teams — lessons that have become even more acutely relevant recently.

“One fundamental issue that teams face when they think about remote teams is that they look at remote teams as either body shops or cheap labor, and they don't see them as equal as their own teams,” he says. 

Dilip has developed methods and tools to address some of these issues, including the usage of personal “ReadMe” docs to get to know colleagues’ styles and needs and figure out, together, how to collaborate.

Learn more about Dilip’s advice and for cross-cultural success, as well his thoughts on how to transition from a mercenary to a missionary in your career and his explanation of the title of his new book, Gangster Vision, on this episode of This Is Product Management.

Download the transcript

Here are the highlights: 

  • Transitioning from a mercenary to a missionary
  • Alternatives to leadership
  • The importance of utilizing “readmes”
  • Succeeding with remote teams
  • Dilip’s advice for PMs

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