AMA WITH OMOJO ANWUZIA
On the 30th of March 2021, Omojo Anwuzia was our guest 0n the bi-weekly ProductDive #AMAs. A seasoned PM who comes from an interesting background, her take on some of the questions that were thrown at her reflected her diverse experience in securities, banking, payments, and insurance.
A Senior Product Manager at Tangerine Life, she was formerly a Product Manager at Opera-backed payments startup OPay. As a key member of OPay’s Product team, she was responsible for the conception, delivery, and optimization of web and mobile products and leading user experience initiatives.
Before OPay, Omojo was at Guaranty Trust Bank as a Product Manager where she led several third-party channel expansions and value-added services on 737. She also redesigned the user experience for cardless withdrawal on all GTBank ATMs.
Omojo started her career as a Market Research Analyst in BGL Plc where she contributed to Key Market Reports for the Nigerian Stock market.
She has a Bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Port Harcourt and is certified in User-Centered Design from Acumen and IDEO.org. Omojo cares deeply about building digital products and creating experiences customers love.
ProductDiver: How did being a Product Manager at GT Bank differ from Product Management at Opay?
Omojo: I joined GTBank as an Executive Trainee in the E-payment group in 2015 and I did not officially start as a Product Manager until Jan 2018. (we would talk a little bit more about this later)A product manager’s role may differ depending on the size of the industry and the companies philosophy to building products. At GTBank the product manager roles were more streamlined to a particular product vertical and the philosophy could be seen as being either product-led or engineering-led. However, at OPay, being a start-up I was more of a generalist and I practically transitioned from a non-tech PM to a tech PM and the philosophy to building a new product was that of a Product + Engineering partnership. I enjoy the latter greatly.
ProductDiver: As an aspiring product manager, I researched product management and I discovered that there are different types of product managers such as Software product manager, Digital product manager, Data product manager, and AI product manager. Which of these product management specializations is best for a beginner like me?
Omojo: Thank you for your question. It’s great that you are carrying out some research around the role you are aspiring to venture into. For anyone new to product management, my advice first is to be sure it’s the path you want to pursue and build your foundation on the core of what product management is about and product management is about identifying and defining problems and working with a team to build the right solution irrespective of the different types of PMs. For a beginner, you could start as a Software/Digital Product Manager and then transition into a more specific product role like the Data PM or AI PM based on the interest you pick up in your PM journey because it would get really clear to you as you keep building and working on various products.
ProductDiver: A co-worker is responsible for researching and providing you with a list of potential retirement party venues for the last three weeks, they have been telling you they will complete the list by “the end of the week (EOW).” When you check in with them at the beginning of each of the weeks, they tell you they didn’t get around to completing it but that it will be done by the current week. As a product manager, How might you influence this situation without authority?
Omojo: Thank you for your question. Talk to your co-worker about the overall schedule for the retirement party, and explain to them how selecting a venue as soon as possible is critical to the success of the overall event and will determine what the date of the party will be. Ask your co-worker about their current workload and see if there is anything you can do to free up their schedule. You can also offer to get someone else to help them if needed.
Midweek, consider sending your co-worker a gentle reminder about their end-of-week commitment and ask how it’s coming along.
ProductDiver: My question is that I’m still an undergraduate and I’ve discovered product management but my parents are keen on me doing my Masters in public health. As an aspiring product manager. is it cool for me to pursue a masters degree or just get a certification in Product management and move on with the career? Is having a masters degree needed?
Omojo: If you have an interest in Public Health, then by all means be open to developing yourself in that area. Now, remember product management is about identifying and defining problems and working with a team to build solutions in diverse areas in payments, e-commerce, health, and the list is endless. Your past experiences and domain knowledge could be very valuable to the products that you build and the industry you eventually decide to work in.
ProductDiver: Given the space you currently operate in, how do you make your products attractive given the culture we have and our religious idiosyncrasies?
Omojo: Thank you for your question. When building your product, it’s always great to understand the persona you are building for (this includes the culture and religion factor), and that greatly influences the solution that you bring to them. With culture and religion, you’d have to choose your messaging carefully to accommodate these factors. For example, there are savings products that the users can either choose to earn interest or not, and this I’d say is an example of a product that factors in the various religious belief towards interest and they used clear messaging to communicate with their users.
ProductDiver: What has informed your job switches so far? Money, the challenge, growth prospects, or just adventure?
Omojo: For me, it’s been first about the challenge and the growth prospects before the money that comes with it.
ProductDiver: What are your daily activities like as a Product Manager when you aren’t building new products?
Omojo: Really, when I’m not building new products I spend a lot of my time supporting, optimizing, and iterating my existing products and diving into data (I take metric and activity monitoring very seriously) for insights. I also spend some time grooming my product backlog for subsequent sprints. Other times I could work with the marketing team on designing the next campaigns.
ProductDiver: Are there other roles for an entry-level PM aside from Software/Digital, Data, and AI PM? For instance, I’m transitioning from an agriculture and sales background, can you please advise?
Omojo: Don’t let these categorizations bother you too much. Often digital or software PM can be used interchangeably and it indicates that the PM works on a digital product typically apps, website, or software. Yes, you can transition with your background to becoming a Product Manager, I’ve seen salespeople do well in PM. Some entry-level roles could come as Junior Product Manager or Associate Product Manager. To aid your transition you could seek formal training or a coach to know what you are getting yourself into and to know what is expected of you.
Omojo can be found on LinkedIn here.
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