As a product manager for MOBI, Abdul Elantably has journeyed through a unique career path leading up to his product-specific role.
Prior to working in the technology space, Abdul worked in a completely different industry. “I used to work in retail right after I graduated from college. I found that I was very good at it and excelled pretty quickly even though I had no sales background,” says Abdul.
Abdul ElantablyProduct Manager
His colleague was right. Abdul ended up joining the team at MOBI in late 2012 as an account specialist. “I started by learning the operations of the business. As an account specialist, I supported the help desk and also worked directly with the carrier to fulfill the requests of the corporate end users, handle escalations, and troubleshooting. Over time, I became an account manager who dealt directly with our decision makers, and we partnered with these decision makers to direct the company in the best way possible and in the most cost effective way possible,” says Abdul.
“This was a multifaceted role where there was a lot of communication, follow up, and project planning involved. In this role, we were sometimes even tasked with making sure that we were saving money for our customers, which is a big reason why our customers love us; we’re able to dramatically reduce the amount of spend that they’re putting into their mobility programs,” says Abdul.
“Eventually, I grew into a role where I was managing account managers, which came with a lot of responsibility in understanding how the portal works, how it relates to our customers, how it relates to the market, and what we need to do to continue to deliver value to our new and existing customers,” says Abdul.
As he learned more, Abdul became passionate about the product and wanted to focus his time there. “I found that I really wanted to go into more of a product position. Because of my experience and the openness of our leadership, I was able to take on the product management role in September of 2016,” says Abdul.
As a Product Manager for MOBI, Abdul’s primary responsibilities include identifying new products and functionality features; scoping them out for the product team; leading discussions around ideation, planning and commitments; defining the requirements, risk, impact and cost of each feature; overseeing the completion of features from inception to testing; introducing the feature and demoing it internally; and guiding conversations about use cases, the value, and eventually tracking the adoption of a feature once it’s been released into production.
“Product management is multidisciplinary,” says Abdul. “It requires being able to corral different groups of people and getting them to discuss important matters in an efficient streamlined fashion. You have a lot of competing forces between sales, development, and marketing versus what the customers want. Bringing that all together and being able to define exactly what it is that we want to move forward with, how we’re going to do it, and how much time it will take is product management in a nutshell.”
Working for MOBI in a variety of positions for five years, Abdul has a comprehensive view of the business and where it’s going. “I’ve had the opportunity to get an understanding of the industry, our customers, and how those relate to our portal during my time at MOBI. Because of this experience, I was able to use that knowledge to support my role as product manager,” says Abdul.
“During my time at MOBI, I’ve learned a lot from my manager (the VP Product) and, prior to him, our director of QA (quality assurance) and our director of product management,” says Abdul. “I believe that’s why I’ve been so successful in my product management role.”
Why MOBI Appealed to Abdul
When he was considering making the switch, MOBI appealed to Abdul for a variety of reasons.
“The culture really appealed to me at MOBI. It was very open, and I really liked the idea of people being able to take ownership, share their ideas, drive the process forward, and be heard,” says Abdul. “When I joined, it was a small corporate climate at the time, and, even with the growth, it still feels that way today.”
Abdul also enjoyed being able to have access to multiple people throughout the organization. “We’ve grown since 2012, but I really liked the idea of working directly with managers, VPs, and directors. I recently worked with our Chief Strategy Officer to help prioritize some of things we’re working on,” says Abdul.
“Another reason MOBI appealed to me is because it’s a growing tech company in the Midwest. When you think of tech companies, many people think Silicon Valley or the West Coast,” says Abdul. “It intrigued me that there was this tech company growing in the Midwest and doing really well. MOBI was winning awards (like the Tech Company of the Year Mira Award in 2017), getting recognition, and partnering with some of the biggest logos around.” MOBI is also one of the most well-funded tech scale-ups in Indiana.
“The people were another big reason I was attracted to MOBI. Everyone here is really great to work with; they want to see the success of the company, and they contribute to it in ways that you wouldn’t normally see in a larger corporate climate,” says Abdul. “They’re invested in it; they want to see it grow and they want to see their peers be successful.” MOBI’s Director of Product Development, Chris Brown, was just named to the Class of 2017 Tech 25.
Finally, Abdul was attracted to MOBI’s values. “I believe in the values of the company. MOBI believes in taking ownership and respecting others. These are values I can get behind,” says Abdul.
What Abdul Has Learned Throughout His Career
While he’s learned a lot throughout his career, some of Abdul’s most important lessons were learned at MOBI.
“Everything ebbs and flows. Sometimes, I feel overwhelmed by how much is going on. I have to remember that it’s a good and positive thing,” says Abdul. “It’s easy to become disillusioned or overwhelmed, but that just means good things are happening. That’s one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned, especially working at a tech company.”
Another big lesson is how Abdul approaches his work. “Working with big businesses, there’s a trade off in the way that you approach things,” says Abdul. “At one point, I felt like whenever we took on a big new customer, it meant they were going to tell us what we need to do and what we need to create for them instead of trusting us to know what will be best for them. Over time, I learned that there’s always a benefit in getting their perspective and how to adopt it so that we can better suit their needs of other large enterprises as well. It’s a collaborative and feedback-reliant process.”
Like many, Abdul learned that communication is key in a team environment. “I’ve really improved my ability to communicate and command the respect of my peers. They look up to me, and that makes my role a lot easier when I’m able to garner their attention, strategize with them, and help make decisions, especially around prioritization and what we’re going to work on next,” says Abdul.
“Finally, it’s incredibly important to keep an open mind,” says Abdul. “Even in the face of adversity, there is always a silver lining and a lesson to be learned. Even out of failure, there’s always a positive consequence as long as it’s used as a learning opportunity for the future.”
Abdul received his undergraduate degree from Purdue and is currently pursuing an MBA from Butler University. He and his wife are expecting their first child later this year.
To learn more about MOBI, read their full company profile here.