In this insightful conversation, we had the privilege of speaking with Bianca Stanescu, Director of Product Marketing at SiriusXM (AdsWizz | Simplecast), and Kushal Khandelwal, Product Marketing professional. Both are proudly serving as PMA Ambassadors.

Together, they shared their enriching journey as mentor and mentee, fostered through the Product Marketing Alliance (PMA) mentorship program.

Within the discussion, they unveiled valuable insights on unlocking their full potential as product marketing experts, the exchange of fresh perspectives, highlights of their experiences, and the significant personal and professional growth they've experienced through the mentorship program - and more.

Take a journey through their reflections and discover how you, too, can leverage the mentorship program to enhance your own career and expertise.

How did you find out about the PMA Mentorship program?

Bianca: I’ve been a PMA member for a few years, and the newsletter, along with the LinkedIn posts about the mentorship program, caught my eye. It was the first time I had seen something so well-structured, built by product marketers for product marketers.

Kushal: I found out about the PMA mentor program via the PMA dashboard and read some great reviews from community members on Slack

What was your motivation for joining this program?

Bianca: I've always found joy in giving back to the community and helping folks kickstart their careers or climb the career ladder. Mentorship, to me, is a two-way street; I learn just as much as I teach. I'm excited about what the PMA team and community are doing together. When I saw the program, I just knew it was going to be awesome. 

Signing up is so straightforward - you just fill out your bio, pick your expertise areas, and the platform matches you with mentees who want your guidance based on complementing skill sets. I'm pumped to be part of this mentorship journey and can't wait to see where it takes us. 

Kushal: My decision to join the program was primarily motivated by my career trajectory as a Product Marketing Manager (PMM). Having navigated my role mostly through self-learning or trial and error, I recognized the invaluable opportunity to collaborate with a seasoned PMM leader who could serve as both a mentor and guide. 

Specifically, upon matching with Bianca, I aimed to seek guidance not only in refining my skills but also in embarking on a job search. At the time, I was working within a small marketing department at a post-Series A dev tool company, and I aspired to transition to a larger and more equipped team, where I could assume greater responsibilities and create a bigger impact.

What have you enjoyed most since joining?

Bianca: Since joining the PMA Mentorship program, what I've enjoyed most is the relationship I've built with my mentee. It's been rewarding to witness his growth, and I've learned a lot from our interactions.

He’s very involved in the product marketing community, and it's fulfilling to share experiences and insights while also receiving fresh perspectives and ideas in return. 

The fact that PMA has scaled globally has also evolved the program into more than just mentorship. It’s become a cultural exchange, with Kushal and I (as well as many others) connecting from different regions, countries, and even continents. This aspect has added a unique dimension to our mentorship journey, enriching it with diverse perspectives and insights.

Kushal: The candid conversations with my mentor have been the highlight. She’s encouraged informal conversations about more than just work or PMM-related things. We constantly chat about our weekend plans and share pictures of random things we’re doing.  

Reaching true potential as a product marketing professional

How have you helped other product marketers reach their true potential? 

Bianca: I've had the opportunity to help fellow product marketers tap into their true potential from various backgrounds, including MarCom, Technical Writing, Product Training, and Content Marketing. It's been a blast sharing insights, offering guidance, and witnessing their growth firsthand. 

Whether it's helping them navigate the nuances of product marketing, providing mentorship, or simply being a sounding board for ideas, I've always been passionate about empowering others to shine in their roles. 

Seeing them flourish and make meaningful contributions to the field is incredibly rewarding and motivates me to continue fostering a collaborative environment within our community.

Has this program helped you reach your true PMM potential?

Kushal: Undoubtedly, the mentorship sessions with Bianca have significantly contributed to unlocking my PMM potential. Specifically, Bianca's guidance proved instrumental in honing my interview skills and discerning the ideal companies aligned with my skill set and aspirations.

Together, we meticulously crafted narratives surrounding my professional endeavors, effectively showcasing my strengths and expertise.

Gaining fresh perspectives from each other

What fresh perspectives or learning have you gained from your protégé?

Bianca: I approach mentorship with humility and a genuine desire to support my mentees’ success. Kushal has been incredibly generous with sharing resources, including various opportunities and communities that have broadened my perspective. 

I'm gaining insights from him every time we interact, and being a part of his journey is a genuine privilege. With a more technical background, his insights have been invaluable in understanding the intricacies of developer marketing. 

What fresh perspectives have you gained from your mentor?

Kushal: One of the most notable insights Bianca shared was the importance of approaching conversations with hiring managers more strategically rather than merely tactically. 

Bianca has been instrumental in helping me address immediate questions while also underscoring a broader understanding of organizational dynamics and the impact of my contributions to the business. 

This shift in perspective has influenced my approach to problem-solving and decision-making at work and beyond. Additionally, Bianca's encouragement of informal conversations beyond work-related topics has broadened my outlook and reminded me of the value of embracing a holistic approach to both personal and professional growth.

What was the best advice you received from your mentor? 

Kushal: While interviewing for senior roles, it’s very important to be strategic while answering questions. Most candidates tend to answer interview questions with tactical information and while that’s absolutely alright, answering interview questions from a strategic point of view really has helped me show the interviewer that you can see the big picture and understand how my work makes an impact. 

One of the most impactful pieces of advice from Bianca pertained to the strategic approach to answering interview questions for senior roles. 

While many candidates often provide tactical responses, Bianca emphasized the importance of articulating answers from a strategic standpoint to help me stand out from other candidates. This viewpoint shows that you understand the big picture well and can also explain clearly how your work makes a difference.

How has this mentorship impacted your professional growth?

Bianca: Balancing work and life can be daunting, especially with the constant juggling of tasks, team management, and wearing multiple hats. I was struggling to find a sense of purpose beyond work while still tied to what I love most – product marketing. 

This mentor-mentee experience has instilled greater confidence in my abilities, equipped me with valuable leadership skills, and provided me with connections that I wouldn't have forged otherwise. 

Has there been a specific instance where you’ve helped your protégé overcome a professional challenge?

Bianca: There have been times when I've helped my protégé navigate professional challenges, especially related to career planning and goal setting. 

Together, we've teamed up to devise strategies, spot opportunities, improve skills, and get ready to move up the ranks. I'm incredibly grateful for his trust in me and my guidance, and I’m proud of his determination and success. 

How do you see the value of this mentorship program in comparison to other professional programs you're part of?

Bianca: I've mentored before within the companies I worked for, but the pairing process was often rooted in established working relationships. I've been looking for new ways to give back to the community, and I stumbled upon this cool, structured approach from PMA, which emphasizes both process and human connection.  

Kushal: I’ve tried to find a mentor on various platforms including ADPlist, MentorCruise, etc. but those charge you a heavy fee. Plus, there were only 1-2 potential mentors relevant to my profile. 

PMA’s mentor program proved more valuable since the members are all part of one PMM community and there’s a special sense of belonging. There’s such a rich pool of potential mentors to choose from, based on exactly what I’m looking for, whether it's long-term guidance or quick assistance with work-related challenges. 

Any advice for fellow product marketing professionals considering becoming a mentor?

Bianca: Mentorship can help you refine your communication and leadership skills, broaden your understanding of product marketing challenges and solutions, and establish genuine connections. Stay open-minded and humble throughout the process, focusing on more than skill-building. Just strive to be the mentor you wish you had.

Kushal: I would highly encourage fellow product marketing professionals to seek out mentorship opportunities. As Steve Jobs once said, “My job is not to be easy on people. My job is to make them better.” And that’s exactly what a mentor’s job is. 

A mentor can offer insights based on their own experiences, help network with other PMMs, navigate challenges, and provide constructive feedback to aid in your professional (and personal, if you’re lucky) development. 

Additionally, a mentor can serve as a trusted sounding board for ideas, goals, and aspirations, helping you to clarify your path and make informed decisions. 

Any final thoughts or comments you’d like to share about your experience with this mentorship?

Bianca: Thank you for taking the time to read about my mentorship experience. I found the PMA Mentorship program immensely helpful in establishing processes and getting organized with meeting minutes, notes, and resources. 

It helped me focus more on fostering relationships rather than worrying about the technicalities. Mentoring forges a profound sense of belonging and connection, and with minimal investment, you can gain so much in return.

Join Bianca and Kushal, and sign up to the mentorship program

Whether you’re looking to learn from others, guide fellow product marketers, or both, our mentorship program has something for everyone.

Become a mentor

📈 Help other product marketers reach their potential

😇 Give back to the community and leave your own legacy

🤔 Gain fresh perspectives and learn from your protégé

🤝 Level up your career and forge new, lasting relationships


Become a mentee

👩🏽‍💻 Tap into invaluable expertise and advance your career

👌🏻 Pick a mentor perfectly suited to your circumstances

✅ Complete, confidential 1:1 time to ask what you want

⬆️ Grow your network and learn from topic-specific specialists

💯 Solve problems and up-skill with 100% confidence