How a Capstone Project Led to a Robust Future in Product Management

Deb Sasmal, UPMC Healthcare Product ManagerAfter nine years working as a systems engineer, applications engineer, software engineer and finally, a lead data engineer, Debashish Sasmal was ready for his next strategic move.

“I’d worked for a startup in Hyderabad, India where everyone had to wear different hats,“ recalls Debashish. “I realized that I wanted to expand my focus into product management.”

He began this new career path by moving from India to Pittsburgh and joining Carnegie Mellon University’s intensive, one-year MS in Product Management program.

“I was making a strategic shift. I had a strong tech background, so I wanted to dive into the business and design side of product management and hone my leadership skills. The MSPM program was very much in line with my goals,” Debashish explains. “And it’s CMU.”

UPMC Enterprises Provides Deep Insight Into Product Management. And The Healthcare Industry.

When asked to be an MSPM capstone sponsor, UPMC Enterprises was happy to partner with the program. “Not only do we get their expertise for a specific project, but we also see it as a recruiting opportunity,” explains Curtis Stratman, Director of Product Management.

This specific capstone project was complex and challenging. UPMC Enterprises had developed a successful internal solution, now they wanted to know if and how it could be leveraged into a commercial offering.

“It was a ton of work for a three-month time period,” Curtis remembers. “It required someone who could quickly understand healthcare, IT, our product solution, and how it’s used. Gather the right competitive data and synthesize it. And then formulate recommendations for the future of the product.”

Debashish was up for the challenge. “I was trying to find a more strategic experience, something beyond traditional tech. Much of this project was an open question: ‘How do you go beyond product strategy to business strategy?’ CMU teaches you open independence, how to multitask, be smart and precise. I was ready.”

The MS in Product Management program provides a team of students to work with each capstone project sponsor. The students gain experience advising on product management projects with the support of coaches who work in the industry and MSPM faculty.

Deb Sasmal, CMU MS in Product Management AlumI think combining the learnings, the coaching, the advice… it all helped us create significant work in a very, very meaningful manner.

Debashish Sasmal

Making the Move from Capstone to A Multidimensional Career.

Through his capstone experience, Debashish gained a greater appreciation for the complexities and importance of product management in the healthcare industry. He also grew to value UPMC Enterprises’ venture and innovation environment, and the way teams work together. “It’s a relentless, cohesive drive to the solution,” he says. “There is an openness and candidness, a pursuit of ideas on merit.”

Due to his exemplary work, Debashish received his final offer just before his final presentation. “His capstone ended in December, he was on-boarded for full-time employment in February,” recalls Curtis.

Today, as a Product Manager for UPMC Enterprises, Debashish has the multidimensional career he envisioned. “Today, I’m working in innovation strategy, investment strategy and portfolio management. I’m driving real solutions for UPMC, our clinicians, and the patients and people we serve.”

He’s well equipped to do it all.

“Debashish’s tech and tech management experience and Product Management degree bring a broader, more rounded set of skills to our team. It makes him more agile and flexible, he definitely stands out,” concludes Curtis.

Debashish Sasmal is a Product Manager at UPMC Enterprises where he focuses on innovation strategy, investment strategy, and portfolio management and leadership. He graduated from CMU’s MS in Product Management program in 2019.

Curtis Stratman is Director of Product Management at UPMC Enterprises. He has more than 20 years of experience creating and delivering software solutions that impact people’s lives. Curtis (MBA ’08) is an alumnus of CMU’s Tepper School of Business.