I have seen multiple articles in various media about the dress code in different offices. An article in Esquire mentions a lot of options for formals, business casuals etc, and you can read it here. However, that is more applicable to the US and less for India. A quick search for the dress code at Infosys reveals this article. And this is more applicable to Indian offices. However, it is common to see engineers walk in wearing flip-flops and old jeans in top engineering R&D centers. Given these options, what is the dress code that one should follow as a product manager in India?
Based on my experience of various firms and sectors, even for product managers it varies from slippers and ratty t-shirts to spiffy formal suits. The dress code depends on
- The type of firm’s business (enterprise software, telecom firm, dotcom, app development)
- The nature of the product management role (customer facing, offshore center, market facing)
- The closeness with customers/market
- The occasion (external meeting, internal meeting, travel to an industry conference)
So how do the above impact the PM’s office attire?
Enterprise software and telecom firms are often huge organizations with many layers of hierarchy. Someone in middle management or a junior product manager is expected to dress smart. The smartness however, depends on the geography. Folks in the US will often be clean-shaven, wearing formal shirts and if there is a customer meeting, a tie or suit as well. And for day-to-day attire in India, formal shirt and trousers seem to work well. And this also works when people are meeting other groups within the company, or over video conferences. Not surprisingly, these are also the most common meetings a product manager attends in larger firms.
On the other hand, I have seldom come across an e-commerce product manager who even owns a suit. But in industry conferences, I have seen them occasionally wearing fresh jeans and polo shirts with clean-shaven faces. And engineers who switch to product management might also be seen in sandals and cargo shorts. From what I understand, this is perfectly acceptable in such firms or startups.
And there is a rare product management director who will not be seen in a t-shirt with his company’s logo. As I understand, this is them trying to look cool on Fridays.
As a product manager, there are many things to look out for, when working in India. Suitably dressing up for the workplace will enhance your presence and positively impact your abilities to influence others.
[The rule of thumb is to dress as your director or manager does. It makes life a little easier. In case they are of the opposite sex, look for other folks at their seniority level within the firm.]