AMA SESSION WITH CHIDERA OKOLI
On 16th November 2022, we had Chidera Okoli as the PM guest on our bi-weekly #ProductDiveAMA.
Chidera Okolie is a Product Journey Manager with 4 years of experience. Her career has been a smooth transition from CX to business strategy and research.
On most days, she spearheads product design and strategy – crafting the user experience journey for different digital products ranging from banking, E-commerce, savings, and BNPL bouquet of products.
On other days, she’s researching fun places to visit with lovely water-sides and watching comedy.
Her utmost joy is that customers are heard and remain the reason why we keep building and iterating.
ProductDiver: Hi Chidera. Please can you experience a typical day of a Product journey manager and the difference from a traditional product manager?
Chidera: I’ll start by saying my role is heavily focused on the customer journey. I consider touchpoints while building or working with other teams.
My typical day can defer on some days, depending on the product and stage of the product.
It’s largely, product strategy, product monitoring, user testing, focus groups, reviews, internal and external stakeholder management, meetings and meetings and meetings.
A difference would be that I actually use and create journey maps while working with a technical PM. I wear the hat of the customer in all conversations about the product. I’m steadily validating and working closely with customer-facing teams. This way, I’m closer to what the customer is saying, doing, or not.
ProductDiver: Why Product Management?
Chidera: Why not PM? I’m very customer-centric and I’m steadily thinking about design and experience for customers. Product Management allows me to do that on a broader and more impactful scale.
I get to ask all the whys, validate or not in the process of building with and for the customer.
ProductDiver: What are the top five(5) things one shouldn’t do as a Product journey Manager?
Chidera: Never build without your customers. You need to be sure that your product is
desirable and usable. Building with your customers can start by asking what they want to watch, so you can infer and validate that.
2. Not using a visual tool. This is so important. I find that visualization does much more than color and shapes. It creates a clearer view of the journey you’re creating. You’re able to see loops faster.
3. Not engaging internal and external stakeholders: You always always always need buy-in from the decision-makers, buy-in from those who can bring the product or processes to life, and buy-in from those who sell your product.
4. Not viewing your internal customers as valuable: They help you create the balance of growing the business and putting the customers first.
5. Not sleeping: Rest is good for everyone.
ProductDiver: How long do you think you will be in Product Management?
PM is a role that easily allows me to move in and out of other tasks. There are so many transferable skills. Noting that products can be digital or not and everything we use or create for customers are mostly products.
We also see that PMs for different organizations can be expanded into many things. For example, a data PM, or a product experience manager.
When I think of it this way, then I’ll be saying a long long time.
I always always want to wear the hat of the customer and continue to build from that.
ProductDiver: Can you share your product journey and your current experience?
Chidera: I transitioned from Customer success, business analysis, and user experience design to PM. Transitioning was easy for me because of the many transferable skills and I also took courses to validate my interests. ProductDive surely helped me validate and properly create what I wanted through the classes and tasks we had to do. It got me to re-evaluate my why. It’s truly one of my most valuable educational investments. Transitioning was easy for me because of the many transferable skills and I also took courses to validate my interests.
ProductDiver: Do you interface with Engineers in your current role?
If yes, how often and how do you manage an engineer that fails to deliver milestones?
Chidera: Yes, I do. Things I do:
Having a relationship with my team beyond the work they do is very important. I connect the dots between their work and the impact on customers and business. It’s easier to continue to improve the value of your work if you can see it. In some cases, I work with the lead of the team directly who then manages the members of the team.
ProductDiver: Where do you see yourself in 5 years as a Product Manager?
Chidera: In 5 years, I want to be a product/customer journey contributor.
My work would have morphed beyond the single products I create and co-work on to a more robust system of products to which I also teach and contribute my expertise.
Where you are is an important part of the process. Don’t belittle it. Instead, you can spend time expanding your tasks so you can do much more even in that role and it’ll be way easier doing a switch. A large part of PM is transferable skills. Nothing is wasted. Keep learning to validate too.
If you’re doing a lot of customer-facing now, enjoy it. You have a special place in my heart because you’re the reason our customers continue to choose our business.
ProductDiver: Have you ever been overwhelmed by work and how do you manage to get through?
Chidera: This question is general to us all.
I rest – I differentiate this from sleeping. My mind is not processing a lot. I’m resting.
I’m a Jesus girl so I pray a lot, worship with beautiful music, and meditate on the Word. I spend time doing fun, peaceful things like visiting a new place. I prioritize my tasks and use my Google Calendar a lotttt! Take a break when I need to – annual leaves, etc.
Connect with our guest PM on LinkedIn at Chidera Okoli
Join the ProductDive Slack Community here.