Do all product managers like their job?
A brief introduction about you.
I am Damilare Ogunnaike, a product manager at Monnify, Team Apt right now. Before I got here, I attended Covenant University to study Computer science. When I was in SS2 or SS3, my sister mentioned the whole idea of programming to me so I just went for it and that’s how I studied computer science.
In my first year in University, I had a B (which was my lowest score at the time) in a programming course. I was curious about this course that gave me a ‘low score’ and so the next semester, I decided to focus on it and I ended up loving it. I am a very logical person so programming was like heaven to me. It got my brain up and running. I graduated with a first-class and joined Team Apt as a software engineer. Now I’m a product manager.
How long have you been at Team Apt?
I’ve been there for 5 years, since 2015.
How did you get into Team Apt?
Well, it was a referral, All my friends and schoolmates knew me then to be the guy that writes code. So a friend that was working at Team Apt told me to come join that they were doing some great work. So I joined.
Why did you move from development to product management?
The fact is that I like things on a bigger scale. As a developer, you work alone, in isolation. You’re in your zone once you have a clear task. At a point, I realized while looking at the long-term ambition I have for myself that I had to move from being a lone contributor to being able to get people to do stuff. I like the thought of business, gathering people to work on an idea or vision and actually executing it. So I knew being a developer would not be it for me and I saw product management as the perfect fit for me. It’s stressful but I’m actually enjoying it. I like the pressure, the kind of pressure that doesn’t break you but pushes you to keep improving yourself.
Is this your dream job?
I wouldn’t say it’s my dream job, I’m currently nurturing a passion for agriculture so I think something in the Agriculture + Tech space would be the dream for me. However, I’m still really enjoying this.
That’s interesting, what about agriculture fascinates you?
Well, I grew up on the farm and spent my holidays there so I just really like it and I’m still looking for the perfect intersection.
What’s your typical day like?
Well, I wake up around 6:30 or 7 am. I check around and read my articles online. Work typically starts at 8:30. It starts with a meeting with the engineering team, we discuss previous day’s work, challenges, and today’s work. After that, it’s operational work. Meeting with partners, merchants, banks, and different departments in the company. My work requires that I interface with all departments in the company, from engineering to design, to settlement and customer success. So basically numerous discussions with different people.
What do you think your most important skill is?
For me, I think it’s being able to work with people. As a developer, I wasn’t great at that. I liked to be on my own once I have what to do. But interestingly in the early days of Team Apt, developers wore many hats. You wrote code and talked to customers. It was during this period I realized that I lacked interpersonal skills. So I think you also need persuasive skills, some people wake up on the wrong side of the bed, you need to be able to calm them down to get them to do what you want. Also, there’s the ability to work effectively.
Something you wish you knew before getting into product management?
I wish I knew the importance of empathy. That was a major thing for me, but I’ve grown over time.
What’s your favorite thing and least favorite thing about your job?
I like that my product is empowering people. I love that I work on an innovative product.
My least favorite thing is technical issues that lead to the loss of funds. They can be so frustrating so I hate them.
What advice would you give someone looking to get into tech?
I would say learn the basics. If you want to jump into any industry, learn the basics. If you want to jump into software development, learn the basics and fundamentals of how the language works, learn the fundamentals of product management. If you know the basics, you’ll be able to build a lot of structure around it.
Thank you for sharing your story Damilare.