Taste of Instacart
Meet Garima Sinha, Director of Product Management, Growth
When Garima Sinha started her career, she didn’t know what product management was. “The function didn’t really exist back then, but that didn’t stop me from loving solving problems, brainstorming possibilities, and designing solutions,” she says.
As an undergraduate, Garima studied computer science and then joined a startup incubator in India. While there, she counseled and coached engineers and founders, but the entire process was priming her for her role as an engineer herself. “Like most engineers in India, I was gearing myself up for a software engineering role,” she says.
It was when she started looking for a new job that the position of Product Manager (PM) was proposed. “I met with their Head of Product, who told me that, ‘Given your personality and passion about users and developing roadmaps, I think you might be good at it.’ I told them that if it didn’t work out, I wanted my engineering job back.” She took the job and started as a PM, working on products at the intersection of gaming and social, eventually finding her way into working on messaging.
“Through my work, I realized that so much of what we were doing was based on trends in the Bay Area,” she explains. “Once I’d realized that, I wanted to be working closer to the epicenter: I set my sights on moving to the Bay and started applying to some of the biggest tech companies every day.”
But after being told she wouldn’t get hired as an international candidate, she decided to pursue a Master’s at Carnegie Mellon University to improve her chances of getting hired. If it’s not obvious by now, Garima Sinha has a whole lot of drive. She eventually landed a job at Facebook.
During her time at Facebook, she worked on Messenger as part of the core team driving growth to 1B users. She then took Facebook fundraisers from $100M to $1B raised for fundraisers in a single year.
Taking on new challenges
When she started her search for somewhere new to tackle growth, Garima wanted to try something new. “I hoped to apply my skills to a new problem—if I’ve learned one thing in the product world, it’s that constantly taking on new challenges is the best way to stay sharp,” she says. “I craved a company where I could have an outsized impact on the business. That, coupled with my love of food, made Instacart the perfect place.”
What’s more, Garima had seen Instacart be resilient in the face of change amid growing demand during the COVID-19 pandemic, “And it still has massive potential for growth,” she says. “The upside I saw at Instacart didn’t compare to any other company in the space.”
From a growth perspective, Garima loves hypergrowth environments because they lend themselves to finding solutions for the “There’s no way we can do that” kind of problems.
Some of the problems she was drawn to? “I love the idea of making Instacart “more personalized” so people are inspired as they shop and given contextually relevant products—think movie night snacks if they’re browsing and have popcorn in their basket, candy, costumes, and decorations leading up to Halloween, or suggesting deliciously simple takes on Thanksgiving classics before the holiday,” she explains. “Food is such a huge part of our daily lives and we have an opportunity to serve up delight and even better products to our customers.”
Not to mention, Garima loves food: “It’s the most important thing I care about other than my dogs!” And having grown up in India and later moved to the U.S., Garima has multiple experiences of food and cuisines and loves exploring different cultures through food—including her own.
“Perhaps most of all, I’m excited to build an organization and culture of growth at Instacart,” she says. “Instilling a growth mindset is very different from building a team and I believe there’s a special opportunity to infuse growth into everything we do at Instacart.”
To lay the foundations of the team and growth culture she’s building, Garima is focusing on three core areas:
- Resilience and perseverance: “It’s easy to give up on an idea because it didn’t work the first time,” Garima says. She hopes to build a team that doesn’t give up or get distracted by new and shiny ideas, but instead push themselves to try again until their execution works flawlessly.
- Humility: “Not only is this a new company, business, and problem space for me, I believe that being humble is important for everyone,” she says. “We all have to be able to recognize that we don’t know everything and ask questions.”
- Values and potential over paper: Never one to hire solely for what’s on paper, Garima hopes to gather folks who are aligned on the same values and have room to grow with the team and company.
The truth behind growing products
Garima is an expert in the field of PM and growth, so it’s no surprise that she’s got some tricks up her sleeve—only they’re not really tricks. “People think that you can come up with growth hacks and your numbers will soar, but that’s hardly what sustains growth,” she explains. She believes that sustaining growth is much harder than using growth hacks and requires great discipline.
To start with, Garima aims to deeply understand what drives the growth of a product. By analyzing what makes customers use a product or feature, stick with it, and share with others, she believes that teams can focus on providing value for customers and building a product they love and use.
With a deep understanding of a product and its customers, Garima then takes a disciplined approach that applies learnings and waits to observe results. “The goal is long-term, sustainable growth—growth that compounds over time. When you change one thing, everything else compounds, so you have to be disciplined, observe results, and stay patient. A lot of growth teams can feel like they’re doing a lot of work but not much has changed; that’s why this field requires discipline and patience.”
Finally, Garima will apply learnings and discipline to methodically explore new users, new verticals, and closely examine things like repeat shopping behavior for ways to build a growth engine that compounds over time. “I believe Instacart can be 10x what we are today—and we’re going to find a way to get there,” she says.
The value of a different perspective
When Garima first came to the U.S., she encountered a very different culture and working style. “Even though I felt confident in my instincts, I never felt confident enough to voice them in a room full of people because it was such a different environment than I was used to,” she says. “I spent the first six months working in the U.S. getting comfortable sharing my ideas.”
During that time, she learned the value of being wrong and got coaching from a manager on how to build confidence. The most important learning she took away from being new and lacking confidence was the understanding of how to build conviction in her own ideas: by looking at data points, facts, and understanding the ‘why.’ Then she practiced, getting to the point where she could voice her ideas in her sleep.
Her quiet confidence, coupled with her different cultural perspective, gave her an edge: “I’m really good at connecting the dots and understanding the ‘why,’ instead of simply acting,” she says. “As an outsider having to adjust to a new environment and build my own confidence, I slowed down and became extremely analytical—I think that’s a huge part of the successes I’ve had in my career.”
Bringing her opinions to work—and encouraging others to as well
Throughout her career, Garima has moved from lacking confidence to being a very opinionated and transparent person. “Being opinionated and transparent has both served me and been a challenge as a woman in tech and ultimately cemented my belief that it’s critical for all members of a team to feel comfortable having—and sharing—their opinions.”
To that end, Garima has worked to create team environments that encourage her reports and others to speak up. “If people feel psychologically safe and like someone has their back, they’re more likely to share their ideas, even if they risk disagreement,” she says. “I didn’t always feel that safe, so I’d like to create a place where people do—and believe that’s the only way we’ll all adopt a growth mindset and take the company to the next level”
Garima’s advice for women in PM and tech is not unlike how she approaches growth—and her career. “First, gather all the necessary information, understand the ‘why’, stay disciplined, keep practicing, and, last but not least: Don’t hold back.”
We’re thrilled to have Garima on the team and can’t wait to see the growth she and her team achieve for Instacart.
Interested in working with Garima or on Instacart’s Product? Check out opportunities on the team.
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