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AMA with KELECHI UZOMA

According to the Cloud Computing market research report, the value of the market stood at $199.01 billion in 2019. The corona-virus pandemic saw a whole lot more organizations move their businesses to the cloud in 2020. So, we can be sure that the value above would have gotten a whole lot more by now. 

Cloud solutions have changed the role of product managers and how they collaborate with teams  for product development. As a product manager actually developing cloud solutions, we invited Kelechi Uzoma to come share with us what it’s like in his role especially in 2020 given present circumstances.

Kelechi Uzoma is a Senior Product Manager – B2B Cloud Computing and Data Management at ThinkOn Inc where he identifies and prioritizes problems to be solved, partnership with the C-Suite leadership, Business Enablement & the PMO, while driving the execution of product roadmap to achieve strategic growth goals for the organization.

Kelechi has also worked with reputable financial institutions, including Bank of Montreal (BMO) Canada, Standard Chartered Bank (Jersey UK & Nigeria) among others.

He is a Certified Product Manager, Project Management Professional (PMP), holds an MBA from the University of Leicester, a PGC from the University of Liverpool & an Engineering Degree. He is also an alumnus of the Business Edge Campus (Leadership Program) with Rotmans School of Business (University of Toronto).

It doesn’t get any better than that. Let’s dive into his wealth of knowledge.

ProductDiver: As a PM working on Cloud solutions, how does your role differ from other PM roles?

Kelechi: Great question. From a high level, I would say any differences are more industry specific – Financial services, Tech, Healthcare etc. We still walk a mile in the PDLC.

In my current space (and in a company at its growth phase), it is more about doing much more than I am expected to do and this gives me the opportunity to be a lot more creative with my problem solving approach – I am free to implement and test processes from time to time.

ProductDiver: What stage would you say the cloud space is in this part of the world? What do you think a PM aspiring for this space should do to get in or get ready for available opportunities?

Kelechi: I would say the cloud space is huge and still growing and with the recent pandemic, it’s getting busier everyday as businesses migrate operations and data off-premises.

As an aspiring PM, I would say start by letting people know you want to become a PM and the type of industries that fascinate you. Great PMs are passionate about their work and this helps to make the transition easier.

ProductDiver: Throughout your history as a PM, how will you describe the best working space and company culture that has complemented your growth?
What are those necessary soft & hard skills one must have to be able to beat his or her competitions as a PM?
What are those things in one’s resume that makes him or her a good candidate for a PM role?

Kelechi: These are great questions.

The best working space/culture for me has been a very collaborative one with little or no red tapes. I find that creativity flows freely and everyone feels open to feedback and improvement. It also keeps the teams’ eyes on the prize.

For soft skills, I am passionate about continuous learning and the desire to wow users/customers and employers can see this from a distance (trust me). As far as technical skills go, it is smart to understand the industry, skills, tools and some techniques they use.

For resumes, it serves to showcase your past experiences from an achievement perspective. What did you do and what was the impact on the company?

You can also stand out by learning from other PMs in forums like #ProductDive. They have an awesome team that genuinely supports aspiring PMs.

ProductDiver: What difficulties did you face at the beginning of your product management career? How did you overcome them?

Kelechi: For someone who had worked in various industries and on different roles and business lines (vertically and horizontally), it was a little tough to not get into one of those hats and think from one perspective. Being a PM is about stepping back and thinking holistically. It was also difficult to say no at the early stages.

Bottom line, engage with outcomes and not outputs.

ProductDiver: How is Cloud changing Product Management?

Kelechi: Great question. I would say the engagements have changed and will need some getting used to especially as remote jobs become more popular. 70% of the time, PMs manage stakeholders and this is usually less complex when teams are co-located. Now, there seems to be a disconnect for some folks and the engagement cycle becomes longer.

On the positive, the cloud is designed to eliminate some revenue waste and ensure organizations pay for what they utilize/consume. This has increased investments in the PM departments of some organizations as well.

ProductDiver: From your experience, do you think the industry in which one learns product management matters or has long term implications?
Are the same skills acquired regardless of industry?
In short, would there be any advantage or disadvantage taking an associate PM role in a health or education startup or even a bank, over the more popular fintechs?

Kelechi: At a high level, there is a standard product development life-cycle PMs follow, however these may not  be followed to the letter. Thus, I would say yes, you acquire the same skills as a PM (generally),  however, industries are different and the knowledge of these industries become critical.

If you are trying to get a job in a very specialized industry and role within that industry, I would imagine the company is looking for a very specific person. For example, a technical PM in IT (Cloud) may have no business applying for a role as a PM for Credit Cards in a bank. Not to say they may not know how to deliver on the job in the long run, but the learning curve may be longer.

ProductDiver: What key areas should a Cloud Product Manager focus on?

Kelechi: I would say start with the fundamental knowledge of the cloud.
– The difference between taking operations/data to the cloud and having them on-premises.
– The differences between IaaS, PaaS, SaaS. Different organizations play in these different spaces.
– Public Cloud, Private Cloud, Hybrid, Dedicated, Cloud Storage, Backup as a Service (BaaS).

This way, a PM is able to understand conversations with the team – engineers, developers, sales or marketing on why/how the company is curating specific solutions for their target customers/users.

Thank you to the ProductDive community for having me today. I enjoyed it a lot and I saw great questions here. If you have more questions, do not hesitate to reach out to me to continue the conversation. I would be more than happy to discuss product management with you.

To your Success!! 🥂

Please follow Kelechi on LinkedIn here and on Twitter @kayspirit25.

Do not forget to join us on Slack https://bit.ly/PDSlack and follow ProductDive across all our channels so you do not miss out on rare opportunities like this one.

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