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AMA SESSION WITH George-Daniel Osuagwu

On 22nd July, 2022, we had George-Daniel Osuagwu as the PM guest on our Monthly #ProductDiveAMA.

Meet George

George is a product manager with over 7 years of experience in building and managing innovative products and services across a variety of industries. He has worked in the health care, e-commerce and logistics sectors, and currently in the fintech sector.

George is passionate about developing and releasing value-added services based on disruptive web and mobile technologies.

ProductDiver: Why did you become a product Manager

George: Quite interesting tale actually, but I’ll keep it simple.

I couldn’t code, I struggled to do that and grew frustrated day in – day out till a mentor/ friend told me not to push it, that I’ll only get more upset. However, he said this to me. “THOSE who know how, end up working for those who know why, Be the guy who knows why”, he went on to give examples even using himself and his experiences. After that? I went on to fully understand each of the roles within the tech space and coupled with a desire of wanting to just build stuff that everyone could use? I settled for Product Management, this was after a couple of stints as a product designer who knew he could do so much more than just research and design.

ProductDiver: How do you grow as a PM? And does the growth reflect on the product you’re working on?

George: Learning never stops, but here are a few that have worked for me.

  • Read up
  • Grow your product sense
  • Conduct tear-downs
  • Join communities
  • Network with other PMs
  • Take courses
  • Find a mentor

ProductDiver: What did you study as an undergraduate, How do you learn product management and are there lots of opportunities for newbies like me still learning?

George:  This story? ha.

Ok, growing up? I knew I wanted to Mix three things together.

  • Business
  • HealthCare
  • Tech.

Business?  because of my stint with AIESEC, Health? I had an interest there but Just did not like Blood or horror movies, and tech? Well, I have an Older sibling that influenced me.

SO, I had to pick a course that was going to help me combine these three and this was how I settled for Public Health (No cutting, no blood just admin etc. and gave me huge advantage as I could do virtually anything with it.

I Jumped right in and during my service year, a friend sent an Opportunity at a HealthTech company for a Business Dev. and believe you me, I wanted to cry.

Jumped at it, but my first day at the office? I knew BD wasn’t for me. I found some Opportunities within the company that needed to be filled (after the conversation with my mentor) and the rest is history.

But along the line, I had tasted the PM life and knew I just didn’t want to focus on one industry, I wanted to be flexible and not restricted to just healthcare, so I applied and got a role in the E-commerce space and after sometime, ended up in Fintech.

For Opportunities, there are tons of them, and trust me they will only increase, you just need to position yourself.

ProductDiver: I have another question: From experience, what are the things every Product manager should do in their first 30 Days at a new company?

George: There are a couple of recommended guides for this but please know this.

The first month in a new PM role will be a fire hose of information. Setting personal goals can help you stay focused. I recommend that you:

  • Meet everyone – Introduce yourself, PM is all about relationships and how you can manage them so it’s good to start off on a good note and with a good Impression PS: take notes while at this.
  • Learn the Process – understand how they do things at your new place, and why it’s done that way. You don’t want to manage a product they way you think it should be managed by changing their structures / processes just because they don’t seat well with you. Ps: you would have your chance just be patient.
  • Study all existing documentations (talk to customers if possible, may not be possible sha, at least within the first month) and reference with what’s in development (JIRA) to understand what has been done and what’s in play. Seek clarifications when and where necessary. Ps: Personally, I like to do a tear-down before joining just so I can compare notes and ideas.
  • Set some personal goals (onboarding goals) – e.g., Understand processes, Understand product, etc… If you are lucky you’ll be in an organisation that has a proper onboarding structure and process – who to meet, what to do etc. but primarily these worked for me, and currently doing so.

Full disclosure?, I recently just started off with a new company, so you can say I am doing exactly all these coupled with the blessing of having an existing onboarding process here, so merging the two has brought me up to speed (company processes especially) within a week.

ProductDiver: I will like to ask you the following set of questions;

 — For a newbie PM who has taken few courses on product management, what’s the best way to secure a PM internship to hone his theoretical knowledge?

— What are the top five skills a PM must have, judging from your years of experience.

— If you were to recommend three books for a newbie PM, what would they be?

— What’s your thought on cold emailing with respects to getting PM jobs?

George: This is plenty in one, lol

SECURING an Internship

  • Apply for internships really, there are quite a number of them and sites that offer these things
  • Build a portfolio, trust me, it’s all about the processes. Once someone see’s you know what you are doing, they’ll take a chance on you
  • For the portfolio, you can never go wrong with product teardowns as a newbie in the industry.
  • Showcase yourself, interact with post, update your learning processes on LinkedIn, it is a very powerful tool actually.

TOP 5 SKILLS:

  • Stakeholder management
  • Critical thinking
  • Listening
  • Product sense
  • Story telling

BOOKS:

confession? This is important, but I find it difficult reading for extended periods of time, so I just watch videos. I have read a few though but there are short easy to learn strategy writeups, I can share my folder (Hit me up later).

ProductDiver: What is more important during early stages of a product? Getting more users to try it and possibly generate revenue or building product with all the core features to excite the customer?

George: There is a chance of high churn if product doesn’t have sufficient features.

First off, what is the goal of the product? what are you guys seeking to achieve?

First defining and understanding your product goals from the onset will guide you.

In my previous company, market share was what we were all about, not profitability.

In doing this, we deployed a number of strategies to achieve this, sometimes it’s not all about profitability you know? Know this and your days would be long trust me- e get why.

ProductDiver:  How does one land a job as a beginner without experience? Every company wants someone with 3 years experience and above.

George: I feel your pain, trust me I do. I could tell you the story of my worst ever interview (lasted exactly 3minutes) because of experience, but here is the thing.

DON’T GIVE UP!

I mentioned this earlier to 

  • Apply for internships really, there are quite a number of them and sites that offer these things
  • Build a portfolio, trust me, it’s all about the processes. Once someone see’s you know what you are doing? they’ll take a chance on you
  • For the portfolio, you can never go wrong with product tear downs as a newbie in the industry.
  • Showcase yourself, interact with post, update your learning processes on LinkedIn, it is a very powerful tool actually.

Just so you know, I have a cousin here who is fresh out of school, no prior “formal” experience, he applied for a couple of internships but has gotten full-time offers instead after the interview process.

Most Recruiters would take a chance on you if they see a personal growth trajectory to be honest.

ProductDiver: How many hours a day should a PM be working remotely? Because some bosses even disturb in the midnight because it’s remote?

George: On this one, it depends on the organisation you are working with actually. Most startups however have this habit of wanting you online 24/7 (not advisable), but I think you can set the boundaries right from the interview.

Understand what they require of you, and you be the judge. you decide If you want that experience or not. Also, it is important to note, that not all experiences are healthy, sometimes you have to say NO (in a good and respectful way).

ProductDiver: My question is, when running sprints, what is your recommendation to account for QA efforts? Do you run parallel QA sprints that’s 1 week ahead of Dev or include all the swim lanes in one board and as part of the requirement for done.

If 1, how do you efficiently keep track of both.

If 2 , how do you prevent constant spillovers for cases where tasks don’t get to QA early enough, without incurring redundancy on development time

George: Nice question.

  • Sprints processes are in most cases (speaking from experience) already decided. However, QA is done in parallel, starting off when a ticket is marked for QA. However, should any tickets fail? it’s thrown right back to be fixed.
  • Preventing Constant Spillovers? This is where your grooming sessions come in, trade-offs as well. Also, if you having constant spillovers? the reasons for this should be detected during your retrospectives and reviews as well, and then recommendations implemented for the next sprint.

And example of the last one has been tickets where designs are done, and handed off, but the handoff wasn’t done properly, so devs constantly are faced with stuff they don’t really understand, and these guys “NO LIKE STRESS” just a sneak peak into an experience I had.

ProductDiver: For someone who wants to do masters and wants to be a product manager, what course would you advise the person to go for?

George: I think there are quite a number of amazing courses out there, but personally, I’ll go for an MBA in Digital transformation. It’s a preference though. But you might want to pick one that’s related to your field of practice if you want to focus only in one Industry.

ProductDiver: Thanks for sharing a lot with us. noticed you mentioned “teardown” a number of times in your advices, would appreciate if you could give a high level description of what it is and how you go about it.

George: A product teardown, or simply teardown, is simply taking a product apart, identifying and understanding what it is out to solve, and functionalities, amongst other things. the process helps improve your research skills and product sense.

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