In the tech world, successful professionals need to know the technical ins and outs of the company’s product, as well as customer-facing marketing skills. For Marketing certificate graduate Madhura Limaye, she brings both needed skill sets to her Product Marketing Manager role at VMware.
But let’s backtrack just a bit.
Madhura’s early career was intensely focused on engineering. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in computer science from Savitribai Phule Pune University and Binghamton University, respectively, then went on to acquire lengthy experience as a software engineer: first for six years at Sun Microsystems and then for four years at NetApp. But finding success as a Silicon Valley engineer wasn’t enough. Madhura wanted to understand how customers were using the products she helped build.
Fortunately, Madhura’s next role was a Technical Marketing Manager at Hitachi Data Systems, where she was able to explore the marketing side of technology. That position demanded a mix of technical and marketing knowledge—and it’s where she became even more interested in understanding the role of marketing.
“I wanted to leave behind some of the low-level technical details and start focusing on high-level propositions and value,” she says. “That’s when I started investigating courses and certificates that wouldn’t require the same time commitment as an M.B.A., but would still teach me the concepts that I would need to use in my job.”
Her research led her to our Marketing Certificate, which she completed in two years— all while working full time in a tech and marketing role at Sr. Technical Marketing Engineer/Solutions Consultant at Hitachi Data Systems and SanDisk. Madhura was drawn to the flexibility of the program, as well as its mix of online and on-campus courses.
“I was working full time, commuting and managing my personal life,” she recalls. “That flexibility was important.”
Coursework Helps With Transition to Marketing Role
From the first class, Madhura found that lessons learned helped solidify her ability to move into a more marketing-focused role.
Earning the certificate put me in a much better position to talk about problems at a level that is interesting to executives.
“Some of the strategic concepts that were taught in a couple of the core courses—Marketing Management (formerly Introduction to Marketing) and Marketing Strategy—were very useful in terms of understanding the conventions and the different terminology,” Madhura remembers. “This included understanding your customers, figuring out how you need to manage your work profile and responsibilities to meet those needs. It’s very important to understand those properties and terminology. You get lost if you don’t have that introduction. Also, the projects in these classes were hands-on and you had to do a lot of research.”
That project-based classwork had immediate applications to her work at Hitachi Data Systems.
“While most of my projects were confidential and couldn’t be directly discussed in class, I could always extrapolate the knowledge from class to those challenges at work,” Madhura explains. “When we studied pricing, I was dealing with pricing questions on a work project at the same time. Learning about the different techniques in my classes helped me guide the discussion at work. And it was great to have the opportunity to pick my own challenge or problem to manage during those projects.”
And Now We Come Full Circle
Upon completing the certificate, Madhura was able to successfully transition into a full-on marketing role as Product Marketing Manager at VMware.
“Earning the certificate put me in a much better position to talk about problems at a level that is interesting to executives,” she says. “Ultimately, while the technology can be great, you still need to consider the customer’s needs. I became more confident in being able to talk about that.
“I’m on the product side, where we take feedback from our customers and drive it into our product engineering teams,” Madhura continues. “My team provides our sales team with materials for selling our products, and also helps them with packaging, customer references and success stories—all sorts of material to give them the toolkit to sell our products more effectively.”
Madhura has worked in both product management and product marketing roles. Which one will we find her in five years from now?
“My overall goal is product management, which is a better fit for my heavy technical background,” Madhura says. “It has a good mix of the marketing, as well as the product and technical sides. But my role will have a marketing component; that’s something I’m not leaving out!”