Skip to main content

From Punchline to AWS Product Manager 

Jayadev Kalla talks about how the MPD2 program helped him find the type of job he once thought was beyond his reach.

Over a year, Jayadev Kalla went from laughing at the thought of being hired by a big tech company to settling into a new role at Amazon Web Services (AWS). 

Kalla graduated from Northwestern Engineering's Master of Product Design and Development Management (MPD2) program last June and started as a product manager with AWS the following month. He credits the MPD2 program with helping turn what was once unfathomable into his reality.  

Jayadev Kalla“I did not have a degree from a top-tier college and neither did I have any popular companies on my resume," Kalla (MPD2 '22) said. "I was from a non-tech background, which was a challenge too. MPD2 gave me the exposure, confidence, and opportunities to get here.”  

“Here” is with AWS Spark and AWS GetIT, two programs aimed at inspiring young learners to pursue careers in STEM and the cloud. His mission is to understand what educators and students need so he can help his team create products to match.  

Kalla said he sees himself as the voice of the customer. The MPD2 program made it possible for him to refocus his career and excel in this role.  

“MPD2 helped me connect the dots in my learnings from my earlier work experience and helped me bridge my learning gaps,” he said. “MPD2 gives you the opportunity to look back on your career through a fresh lens.” 

Kalla was a product manager before MPD2, but he points to the program’s emphasis on human-centered design as what most changed his approach to his work. During his time in the MPD2 program, he said he became more centered on empathizing with the end user.  

Without that approach, he wouldn’t be at AWS.  

“I do not think people realize how customer-centric AWS and Amazon are,” he said. “Customer-centric doesn't just mean solving the customer's problems, but it also includes earning customer's trust. The lengths our teams go to earn the customer's trust in areas such as accessibility and data security are unparalleled.”  

Solving customer problems is something Kalla felt was ingrained throughout the MPD2 curriculum, but he said to maximize its impact, students have to maximize the commitment they put into the program. 

“MPD2 is only as intensive as you want it to be,” he said. “The more you want to dive deep and learn, the more intense it becomes. The more intense it becomes, the steeper the learning curve is. You will not get the most of it unless you are coming here to learn and willing to put in the effort.”  

The lessons students can extract go beyond what it takes to develop and manage products. Kalla said some of the most important lessons he learned were about people, teamwork, and work relationships.  

Because of how MPD2 took what once would have been a joke to him and helped turn it into his reborn career, he has become a strong advocate for people looking for their own boost to follow in his footsteps.  

“MPD2 is the perfect blend of product design, development, and business," he said. "It is the best program one could do for a career in product management. The program is way ahead of the curve and prepares you for the real world.” 

Back to top