AMA with BABAJIDE SHOYEBO

On Wednesday, September 9th, 2020 at 6 pm, the #ProductdiveAMA slack channel came alive like it does every fortnight. This time we hosted Babajide Shoyebo, Head of Product Management and Design at Zone Tech Park. He graciously gave us one hour out of his busy schedule to answer some of our most pressing questions. We hope that by giving you a little taste of what you missed below, we whet your appetite enough to ensure you do not miss the next one.

ProductDiver: So, you transitioned from Interswitch to Zone Tech Park. What was it like transitioning from a payment PM to a non-payment PM?

Babajide: First thing that changed was the role I was to play. At Interswitch, most of the products then were well-established products that made good monthly revenue. As at the time I changed, I needed to have a feel of developing a product from scratch and not just managing an existing product. Industry knowledge is important so I had to double up my knowledge of the new industry I entered.

ProductDiver: What will be your advice to PMs taking over existing products?

Babajide: Understanding of the industry is the most important. So, 

1. You would need to do some industry analysis

2. Understand the Users of the product

3. Talk to the identified user groups the product serves

4. Understand their pain points

Don’t just jump to improving the product. When you understand all these, you can then start improving the product. You should also set clear targets for the products.

ProductDiver: What advice can you give to someone who is looking to transition into the PM world newly after graduating from Productdive

Babajide: I will take it you are coming from another role. If you are, you would need to try to get experience somehow. There are many ways to achieve this:

1. You take on a voluntary job

2. You try to take on additional responsibilities related to product management where you currently work.

3. Take on an Associate Product Manager role, if available.

ProductDiver: What are the core competencies of an international product leader? I see jobs as a Product Manager and also a Product Marketing Manager and I think a Product Manager should have these two skills. I would like your thoughts on that. 

Babajide: Yes… Product Marketing Manager and Product Manager are two important roles and they do two different things. In a smaller organization, you can do both but in larger organizations, the roles are separate because of focus. It would be tedious to do both product marketing and product management for a brand. You won’t have time.

ProductDiver: My question will be on decision making. When stakeholders want you to prioritize a feature where research has clearly shown it will have a less positive impact on the product compared to other features on the backlog, how do you get the stakeholders to be on the same page with you?

Babajide: They call it stakeholder management. I have been in that situation before. I had a prioritization matrix I developed which had as my criteria:

1. Business goal

2. Customer

3. Engineering

I drew the conversation back to the prioritization matrix which we discussed elaborately on. We then added weight to them based on how we felt we needed to move as an organization. When we added the scores to each criterium for the feature that they proposed, they then decided otherwise. I was closer to the customer; I had the data to sway at the call. I used it wisely without steering resentment.

ProductDiver: I want to know while working with Interswitch, how did you approach UAT? Also, were there instances where you had to do an emergency release to the market, especially when the product wasn’t stable enough? If there were, what were the factors you and the stakeholders involved considered?

Babajide: Yea… UAT was an important part of product development at Interswitch. For organizations like Interswitch that is well regulated, they cannot just release products anyhow. Lawsuits will be waiting for them. While there are internal user tests, there are also closed user group testing sessions where interested external participants test and rate the product. They cannot release product to the market without it being stable enough. Different departments sign-off the release. Operations is one. Operations would have punched holes in the product if it wasn’t stable. That is why it seems they take long to release new products.

ProductDiver: Do PMs need to have technical skills as a non-negotiable? If yes, what skills are necessary?

Babajide: Technical skill is good but you don’t need to be a developer to be a good Product Manager. You will need to know the concept at least so that our developer friends will not sell you and since you are the face of the product, you should be able to talk technical terms with the developers.

ProductDiver: Can data skill be considered technical? Do you think every PM should have a basic idea of how to navigate some of their product data?

Babajide: It is becoming an important skill even though in a structured organization, there would be a team for data analytics. But while it has not become mainstream in Nigeria, it would be an added advantage for you to be good with data analytics.

And that’s it, folks. We say a big thank you to Babajide Shoyebo for his time and for sharing his wealth of experience with us all. 

You can join our ever-growing product community on slack using the link below to ensure you do not miss out of the next AMA and our first anniversary celebrations and giveaways. Productdive is one in a couple of days. 💥💥💥

Slack: https://bit.ly/PDSlack

Also, follow us on LinkedIn @ProductDive & Twitter @ProductDive and Instagram @product_dive

You can follow the speaker Babajide Shoyebo on LinkedIn

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