Akintunde Opawole is a certified Product Manager (See his Lin. It is funny he started working as a product manager without knowing what the role implied. He said this during a Q&A with TechEconomy. Well, Tunde can be excused because a lot of roles as we know them today were once roped into another role, but times and innovations have brought out the best of these important fields, especially in the technology ecosystem.
So, how did Akintunde Opawole (AO) find himself in the field of product management?
AO: This might sound like a cliché but I would say that I’ve been doing products without knowing I was doing product management. Over 10years ago, I worked on a product with a startup called V-campus solutions. Where I helped the startup to build a CBT application and then worked on some product videos at the time. I was the product lead on that project, and that was how my journey into product management began. At the time, I didn’t know that this was me setting a path for myself for a career in product management. When I got into Sidmach technologies, I was really interested in our products even though I was in marketing at that time.
I was heavily invested in specific products which I was championing, and that was how I got to develop a huge interest in product management. Over time after so many years and a series of training in brand management, and all that, I got to see that product management was the path for me and that was how I went full-time into it when there was an opportunity in Sidmach at that time.
There was a product where we partnered with a company in the UK to launch into the Nigerian market. I was asked if I would like to lead the product at that time and I jumped right on it. That moment was how my product management journey started officially.
What is a typical day in the life of a product manager like?
AO: It depends on the organization, the role, size of the team, just to mention a few. Although, in between all of these variations, we still have some bit of similar typical day in life.
Well- depending on the day of the week, I start with-
- Planning and Documenting
First is, keeping tab on the Product Vision, developing and updating my Sprint/Kanban board to make sure it reflects my current priorities and progress and ensure we are well aligned with the vision of the product.
Then update my Product Roadmap to ensure product timeline is on track and all stakeholders are well updated by communicating through different channels such as product councils, end of the week updates on Slack channels, Sprint reviews amongst others. Also, refining the product backlog in preparation for sprint planning, and setting the sprint goal.
- Meetings and Communication
As a product manager, 70% of the time you will find us having series of meetings with different stakeholders at different point in time, ranging from meetings with your Development team, Product Team, Support, QA, Marketing and Sales amongst others. briefing and debriefing stakeholders.
- Researching & Analyzing
As a PM, we don’t stop learning. Consistent research and learning of customer behaviour, track metrics and key performance indicators, find bugs, gather user stories and customer feedback, collect data from the market, talk to your stakeholders and see what you can do to improve things.
You know, it’s usually a rollercoaster but as a product manager how I would sum up a day in life is being a nexus between stakeholders, working with the engineering team, ideating and thinking strategically on the product, and of course, balancing chaos.
What do you enjoy most about your profession?
AO: It’s the fact that I am working on something, ideating on something, or improving on something that can change lives, the way people work and the way people do things. That joy is limitless.
The fact that you can see your product in the market, somebody is using it and then you’re like Wow! Getting to hear from your users on how the product has helped them and played a significant role in their activities, is something that really gives me joy.
There is nothing more beautiful than you ideating something, bringing it to life, seeing what you thought about, seeing features that you thought about, and then you see it come alive.
Not just come alive and then see people use it and give you feedback (good and bad). Such things give me immense joy.
For me, it’s also seeing the wow factor anytime I am demoing a product. There is this particular amazing feature, and when I share it with everyone and they are like ‘Wow, the product’ can do this?
That wow factor releases lots of dopamine in my head (chuckles) and it gives me joy. That is something I love the most about my profession.
Did you come to Sidmach Technologies with a computer science background?
AO: I didn’t come to Sidmach technologies with a computer science background. I didn’t even study computer science as a matter of fact.
I studied microbiology but I knew even while I was in university that I wasn’t going to practice microbiology. I had started developing websites at that time using Joomla, Drupal, HTML, and CSS back in the day so that was my background that got me into Sidmach. It was because I could build something.
What is Akintunde Opawole ‘s favorite memory as a product manager?
AO: My favorite memory as a product manager would be when we had planned to build a data analytics product. We were to build the MVP in 14 weeks. We showed the prototype to the client, and the client loved the prototype so much that the client said that the product needed to be ready in 3 weeks. This is a B2B product.
The client insisted that they’d love to launch the product in 3 weeks and it was a final call. There was nothing we could do about it and I tried as much as possible to see how we could make that happen.
It’s my favorite memory because it was like impossible. 14 weeks for MVP, and then pinning that down to 3 weeks was a huge task for me. Again, because my team and I got to bond together for 3 weeks in the same location working day and night to make that happen. That is one of my favorite memory as a product manager because it brought us all together to see a goal that we all bought into and then make it happen.
What was your favorite project so far?
AO: I would say there are two products that are my favorite so far:
One is a workflow management product. I love that product because it involved us solving a need internally for the company. Then building it, tailoring it to the needs of the company, and then seeing it in use. It’s mind-blowing!
The second is a data product. Building a product with 150 million rows of datasets and then bringing it to life. Those two are my favorite so far. That’s Approval flow and Edustat.
Has Akintunde Opawole witnessed any moment as a product manager which he wished never happened?
AO: The sun-setting of a product that had so much potential and I was really passionate about due to dissolution of contract with a critical partner.
We have seen Product Managers (PM) being described as the CEO of a product…what are the qualities a PM must have??
AO: In no particular order of hierarchy, they are
- Excellent communication Skills
- Leadership abilities
- Strategic thinker
- Ability to Analyze and Prioritize
How viable is the field of PM today?
AO: The field of Product Management is really viable as their many jobs in demand today. Product Managers are also relatively well paid and are very important stakeholders in any organization.
Thank you Akintunde Opawole for this opportunity to learn from you.
AO: It is my pleasure.