March 15

AMA SESSION WITH OLATUNJI FAGBORE

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AMA SESSION WITH Olatunji Fagbore

On 22nd February, 2023, we had Olatunji Fagbore as the PM guest on our bi-weekly #ProductDiveAMA.

Meet Olatunji

Olatunji Fagbore has 6+ years of professional experience in business analysis, pre-sales/market support, product owning, Software engineering, agile methodology, product management & Project Management with a successful track record of leading product teams in conceptualizing, planning, developing, launching, growing, and supporting B2C and B2B products in multiple industries and verticals across Asia; the Middle East, and Africa. Olatunji is an AIPMM Certified Product Manager, and British Certified IT Specialist (BCS IT) and holds a Business Management certificate from, International Business Institute (IBMI), Germany.

He currently works as an Independent Product Consultant building a CRM product with a team of 12 members from several countries (Pakistan, Nigeria, Germany, Spain, Argentina, Ghana, Senegal, etc.). In his free time, he acts as a Life coach to Millennials and centennials.

ProductDiver: How and when did you transition into Product Management?

Olatunji: Haha Interesting question. I would say I transitioned while I was a Software Engineer in 2018, I was already working with Startups to build their company website, and products just trying to make some money unknowingly I was already doing product management. I officially transitioned in 2018 when I was in a Company that identified my business strength from my appearance, contents I wrote about business, and my business traits, they gave me an offer for me to join the product department and I accepted.

ProductDiver: Do you take any certification before you transition to product management?

Olatunji: I had no certifications before I transitioned. I took them after.

ProductDiver: So what is the first thing a newly employed Product Manager should do in his new firm?

Olatunji: As a newly employed Product Manager, I would say have a 3 months plan.

The first month is to observe how things work, people, processes, tools, structure, existing issues, and what is going well. Understand the reasons and approaches behind existing issues.

Next, create a plan for the impact you want to make in the second month, the team you need to work with, the people you need to know, and how you plan to execute. Do not rush to propose solutions but share your findings and your thinking with your manager and team.

And in the third month, after identifying step 1 and getting approval for step 2, you can execute.

ProductDiver: for someone wanting to transition into tech, and want to go into product management. What skill would you advise the person to learn first?

Olatunji: For product management, several skills are needed so my advice would be: profile yourself, map your skills, hard skills, and soft skills then try to check only the key product management skills. Once you can see the gaps, work on only the key skills and not all as some skills could take months to build or learn.

ProductDiver: which one is worth consideration, the money in PM role or the lifestyle in it. Cos, recently, I was discussing with my company PM, and he said if I know the stress in it, I won’t dare to transition.

Olatunji: It depends, money and Lifestyle can be relative. Working as a PM is stressful indeed but I always ask l people “which work is not stressful”? I have found a way to balance my Lifestyle, going out and working. Right now I am trying to stop working on Sundays because I do that now.

You just need to create a plan and schedule that works and you can follow it.

ProductDiver: You have been in this industry for 6 years plus. Do you think you will still be doing this in the next 6-10 years? And why?

Olatunji: Hmmmm. In the next 6-10 years wow, that is a long time. I will be building definitely just that it might not be a software product. I am currently working on some products and I have more to build so I will probably be a Product Founder by then and also transition into entertainment and media.

My reason is I see a Product Manager as a Product Leader, a Product Builder and this is where I most likely will be.

ProductDiver: For most products, there are need for new updates, new versions and all. How do you balance growth versus stability of your products/systems?

Olatunji: When building a product the two areas you have mentioned are important. However, a bug in production is more important than a new feature because one solves the problem and enables us to keep making money.

In as much as growth and stability is important, these are questions to answer.

  • Which feature is the most used
  • Which features are making us money
  • Which features would most likely make us money and which will not

In this case, we need to prioritize the stability of the one’s mostly used and making us money and also the growth of the features validated that is needed and would make us money. 

ProductDiver: What aspect of Product Management excites you?

Olatunji: I would say building, interacting with people, critical thinking, and problem-solving.

ProductDiver: In your opinion, what do you think is the reason or reasons why 95% of products fail?

Olatunji: Most times products fail for many reasons but one I would say is key for me is not understanding your market and your customer’s dynamics.

The reason for this is the market and customers determine if you will make money or not.

ProductDiver: I have struggled to get stories into the backlog what avenues would you recommend to get a healthy backlog?

Olatunji: Managing backlog can be quite difficult, but one of the approaches I tend to take is documenting a Module in a confluence page and breaking in down into Epic, features, requirements, and acceptance criteria. The reason for this is to manage questions, feature uncertainty and get answers and central communication to validate my assumptions.

Another document can also be used to track sprint review feedback and product gaps from already implemented features.

Once I have this iterative guide, I create Jira Epics and stories from the parent confluence document and plan my work per sprint.

Hope this helps!!

ProductDiver: Hi Olatunji, I am a PM intern at a startup but there’s been a huge difference in my expectations. Before I joined, my intention was to work with a team where I will have enough guidance, build my skills as a product manager, and be competitive enough going forward in my career journey but what I am experiencing is something far-fetched.

Here, there are little to zero cross-functional alignments and you have to figure everything out on your own when tasks are given without any guidance. I have only spent two months here and I am fed up with the whole experience.

Now to my question – Is this how things are in the Nigerian startup ecosystem or am I being unrealistic with my expectations?

How can I manage this kind of condition so that I can maximize my stay here while it lasted?

Olatunji: Very interesting question and I am sure many other people can benefit from it.

I would start by saying I see two problems

  1. Leadership and Mentorship
  2. Team Alignment

It varies from company to company, some companies have 1, some 2 and some have none.

However, If you work where you have to figure everything out yourself, try to have someone that can guide you outside work.

Also, for team alignment you need to enforce it strategically in workplaces, some people take ego over the actual work and for the actual work to happen you need alignment, you might need a combination of leadership and teamwork to solve this problem.

ProductDiver: Can you think back to a product idea of yours that didn’t come out as intended? Where did you go wrong, and what would you do differently?

Olatunji: For me, I am currently building my first product and hopefully it would be a success.

However, I would say mine was a failed product implementation idea, and what went wrong would be rushing because of timelines. In as much as it is important to meet deadlines, starting implementation or problem-solving; not having clarity will certainly make you not meet deadlines or make you meet deadlines without the intended outcome.

I would focus on validating my hypothesis to a very good point before starting execution next time.

Connect with our guest PM on LinkedIn at Olatunji Fagbore

Join the ProductDive Slack Community here.


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