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In celebration of International Women’s Day, Pooja Kulkarni, Director Product & Design at Bonzai shares her approach to product development – one that’s built on empathy, perseverance and importantly, results.

In a world where each click, swipe and interaction serves as a digital fingerprint, designers hold the power to shape not only the user experience but the very essence of connection. I’ve been immersed in the industry for a decade, beginning my career as a brand designer. Now as Bonzai’s Director of Product and Design, I can safely say that I’ve learned a lot about what makes a product successful and well received across markets. And today I want to share them with you. 

Here are my three key take-aways:

  1. A true understanding of the user’s needs: Don’t jump to solutions. Instead, first work to understand the user’s needs. Design Thinking teaches us to really get into the user’s shoes and empathise with their challenges. You need to go deep into understanding a pain point and systematically arrive at a solution. 
  2. Building a product is not enough: There’s more to building a product than just focussing on pixel-perfect designs. Once the product is developed, that’s when the real work begins. Strategic planning is imperative for ensuring the ongoing success of a product. It involves crafting a comprehensive go-to-market plan and consistently monitoring product usage – a pivotal element influencing crucial business decisions.
  3. Patience: Working on launching a product takes a lot of patience and perseverance, which can be challenging in a world driven by immediacy. However, with patience you can easily remain undeterred with a clear vision. You realise that results take time to manifest.

On this IWD, I am proud to be leading a team that’s building powerful products like our recently released BrandStory, which empowers our customers to unlock new opportunities and revenue streams. We’re setting new standards in the industry, helping customers reach their audiences like never before. And we’re doing it in an environment that values empathy, collaboration and resilience — qualities that transcend gender boundaries.

Huge credit to the team at Bonzai for recognising an individual’s potential and then trusting them whole-heartedly with responsibility. I have experienced this right from the beginning and would like to thank the team for believing in me more than myself. That’s what keeps me going! With such an inclusive and supportive team, it’s easy to focus on building your career than having to worry about being accepted at the workplace. Bonzai has been successful in building an environment where your work speaks for you and that’s what makes me look forward to going to work every day. 

IWD: Behind the gloss and beyond the glass ceiling

Today, IWD has come to be another important day in the marketing calendars for brands and retail. But it’s important to look beneath the surface of this gloss, cupcakes and happy hours designed for women. I believe it’s a day to be grateful to all the women who have over the years led us to where we are today. 

It’s easy to take things for granted but to think the simplest things we enjoy today were probably illegal for women just about a century ago. Thankfully, we’ve come a long way since then. All the women who have struggled in these years for equality, education, opportunities and rights deserve a day to be remembered and celebrated.

It’s heartening to see more and more women stand their ground and not tolerate toxic work cultures. I think the best way to overcome this is to find a person you trust and confide in them.  Having a strong woman mentor/coach can be life altering. I’ve been lucky to have some wonderful women in my life to look up to. I hope I can be that support for more women some day.

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Pooja Kulkarni, Director Product & Design at Bonzai

Pooja Kulkarni is a seasoned professional and visionary in the realm of product and design, currently serving as the Director of Product & Design at Bonzai, a leading creative automation platform. At Bonzai, she champions a culture of continuous learning, incorporating Design Thinking into the organisation’s DNA.

A creative and empathetic leader, Pooja ensures that users remain at the forefront of product development, inspiring her team to deliver truly user-centric solutions.

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