• Monday, July 22, 2024
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Product management in Nigeria is rapidly evolving – Adesanya

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Adeyinka Adesanya is one of the fastest-growing Nigerian female Product Managers who is revolutionising the tech space. She is passionate and detail-oriented with a strong focus on process, strategy, and solving user problems. Despite her relatively young age in the industry, she has developed a deep understanding of how to leverage market feedback, stakeholder management, and cross-functional team inputs to develop nimble processes and create concise product road maps. In this interview with select Journalists, Adesanya gave deep insight into how product management is evolving in Nigeria and what it takes to be a successful product manager. MODESTUS ANAESORONYE brings the excerpts:

How did you get into product management?

My journey into Product Management wasn’t planned. After completing a degree in Mass Communication, I was drawn to the vibrant world of technology.

My first job was at iTap Solutions Limited, where I worked as a Customer Service Representative. While helping customers troubleshoot issues with our software, some expressed their struggles with understanding how to utilize our Deluxe application effectively. They found the setup to be rigid and confusing, which led to frequent queries and mounting frustrations.

Based on the feedback I got from our users. I proposed the development of a comprehensive standard operating procedure (SOP) for the application. My idea was to create a clear, step-by-step guide that would walk users through the various functionalities of the Deluxe application, making it more accessible and user-friendly.

To support my proposal, I shared specific examples from user feedback, highlighting common areas of confusion and frustration. I emphasized how a well-structured SOP could empower users with the knowledge they needed to navigate the application confidently. This, in turn, would likely reduce the volume of support queries and enhance the overall user experience.

My proposal was met with enthusiasm from the team. We collaborated to design and implement the SOP, ensuring it was comprehensive yet easy to understand. After the launch, we monitored user feedback closely and observed a significant decrease in support queries related to navigation and functionality. Users reported a smoother, more intuitive experience with the Deluxe application, validating the positive impact of the SOP.

This experience underscored the value of listening to user feedback and proactively acting on their queries. It also highlighted the importance of clear communication and thorough documentation in improving product usability and customer satisfaction.

Although the journey was not without its challenges, transitioning from Mass Communication to a tech-focused role required me to learn new skills and adapt to a different way of thinking. I spent countless hours studying, attending workshops, and seeking advice from industry experts to bridge the gap.

Looking back on my journey, I am reminded of the importance of staying open to new opportunities and embracing challenges and opportunities for growth. While my path into Product Management may have been unconventional, it has been a rewarding journey filled with learning, growing, and the thrill of bringing innovative ideas to life in the ever-evolving tech landscape of Nigeria.

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How important is a product manager to a company, and which companies need their services?

Product managers are essential in today’s business landscape, providing strategic vision, fostering cross-functional collaboration, and driving product success. We ensure product development aligns with company goals and market needs, and act as the voice of the customer, by overseeing the entire product lifecycle from ideation to post-launch evaluation. Their decisions directly impact market performance and revenue.

For example, in the tech sector, product managers are pivotal in the sense that they guide the development of innovative software and hardware products, ensuring they meet market demands and stay ahead of competitors. Our expertise in agile methodologies and user-centric design is crucial for creating products that resonate with users and drive adoption.

What is your view on product management in Nigeria today?

Driven by a flourishing tech ecosystem and a growing number of startups, I would say that Product Management in Nigeria is rapidly evolving.

Despite the challenges such as limited funding, regulatory hurdles, and a shortage of experienced mentors, the field is maturing daily and Nigerian product managers are gaining global recognition by participating in international forums, and fostering a strong sense of community through professional groups and meetups.

What should companies be looking forward to in a product manager?

In selecting product managers, companies need to look for individuals who embody a unique blend of skills and qualities tailored to the demands of the role.

For instance, for a tech company, candidates should demonstrate a solid grasp of technical concepts relevant to the company’s products or services. While they don’t necessarily need to be software programmers, a thorough understanding of how technology works enables effective collaboration with engineering teams, which ensures that product development aligns with technical feasibility.

Moreover, successful product managers should possess a strategic mind-set, capable of envisioning the trajectory of the product and aligning it with overarching business objectives. This strategic acumen allows them to define a clear product vision, develop long-term roadmaps, and identify market opportunities that drive sustainable growth.

Also, a keen understanding of customer’s needs and behaviors is paramount since it allows them to make informed decisions that resonate with the target audience. By prioritizing user experience and satisfaction, they can ensure that products meet and exceed customer expectations.

Leadership skills are equally paramount. Product Managers must inspire and guide cross-functional teams comprising individuals with diverse backgrounds and expertise. Effective leadership fosters collaboration, motivates team members, and ensures alignment towards common goals, ultimately driving product success.

Furthermore, the ability to communicate well is indispensable. Product Managers must possess the ability to articulate complex ideas clearly and persuasively to diverse stakeholders, both internally and externally. Whether conveying the product vision, aligning teams, or presenting progress updates, strong communication skills are instrumental in driving consensus and facilitating collaboration.

Analytical prowess is another prerequisite. Data-driven decision-making enables product managers to prioritize features, assess market trends, and optimize product strategies for maximum impact. By leveraging insights gleaned from metrics and analytics, they can steer product development in the right direction and drive continuous improvement. In today’s fast-paced tech landscape, adaptability and resilience are indispensable qualities. Product managers must thrive in dynamic environments characterised by rapid change and uncertainty. The ability to pivot strategies quickly in response to evolving market conditions or unforeseen challenges is essential for maintaining momentum and achieving long-term success.

Moreover, a culture of innovation is fundamental to driving product excellence. Product managers should encourage creativity and experimentation within their teams, fostering an environment where novel ideas are embraced, explored, and translated into tangible product innovations.

Effective project management is also critical. Proficiency in agile methodologies enables product managers to orchestrate product development cycles efficiently, prioritise tasks effectively, and ensure the timely delivery of high-quality products.

Finally, a strong grasp of business fundamentals rounds out the ideal skill set for a product manager. Understanding financial aspects such as budgeting, pricing strategies, and revenue models equips them to make informed decisions that drive business success while maximising return on investment.

In essence, by seeking candidates who embody these qualities, companies can ensure they have the leadership and expertise necessary to drive innovation, deliver value to customers, and maintain a competitive edge in today’s dynamic business landscape.