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Tuesday, October 4, 2022

My Pivot Journal: How Paul Osawe pivoted from marketing to product management – Ventures Africa

My Pivot Journal is a Ventures Africa weekly series documenting people’s career transitions from one industry to another, especially to tech.
Paul Osawe Solomon’s career path has been an adventure of exploring skills that pique his interest. After spending almost four years scouting the modern marketing space, Paul found a new interest in product management. Here is Paul Solomon’s pivot journal. 
How it started
Paul’s time in marketing exposed him to vast lines like marketing strategy, content marketing, paid advertising, analytics and content writing. 
During that period, he worked as a senior advertising specialist at OperaAds. Then, he moved to work at Life Bank. At life bank, he led high-level customer acquisition campaigns and user acquisition app products such as One Donor App & Stockbank. The one donor app is an innovative blood donation app which helps people schedule an appointment to donate blood, while the stock bank app helps hospitals procure medical consumables easily. This went on for a while until he decided that he wanted to be a product manager. 
Epiphany 
“I have a tech-savvy elder sister. She influenced my decision to transition into tech full-t ime.” His elder sister, a software engineer, was a source of inspiration to him. She always talked to him about how cool technology is and how much one can make in that field. His breakpoint was in 2016 when he learnt about Andela, a global job placement network for software developers, and how much everything the network runs resonated deeply with him. At this point, he knew he wanted to build a career in tech but he did not know how or where to fit in. 
Transition
Before Paul’s time in marketing, he had tried to join a software engineering booth camp, Andela, because he liked the idea of building software products. This was where he began learning software programming languages like HTML, CSS and Javascript. Learning these became quite challenging as he did not have the patience to see through the completion of these programs since he had no other stable income after school. 
During his time at Life Bank, he began researching what someone like him, with an interest in different complementing skills, could do. He realised product management revolves around the business of software products and other core areas he was knowledgeable on. He decided product management was what he wanted to do full-time. 
He went through a 3-months intensive virtual course on product marketing with Product Marketing Alliance in the US. He did this to tie his marketing skills to software product marketing. At this point, he was actively practising product marketing at Life Bank. Paul also turned to Udemy and Youtube for further learning. 
“My need for actual certifications led me to explore the various courses I could lay my hands on. I completed a short course on Udacity, on the fundamentals of product management,” Paul explained. He also did an 8-month software product management course by the University of Alberta on Coursera. “I knew without a doubt that it was time for me to transition. I needed to leverage my marketing business and design experience to get a product manager job,” he said. 
Three months after, he landed a role at iQube Labs as the product lead for a product line called MyserciceAgent and led the product team at a management & growth capacity. As a product manager at iQubes, his duties were to improve software products, push new product features, and run a market test.
While at iQubes Labs, he got a better offer at an agritech startup, VorianCorelli, helping the team build the first version of a matching app, a web application that helps key players in the agricultural value chain to trade seamlessly.
However, his transition did not come without challenges. His first job as a product manager required him to take a pay cut. “I did not mind because my goal was to get started in product management,” he said. Also, he was new in tech, so it took time to get a hang of the field. Often, he’d visit his online courses to understand what to do.

How it’s going
Paul is presently a product manager at Quidax, one of Africa’s foremost cryptocurrency exchanges. “I started to learn more about the crypto industry and blockchain,” he said. His primary role is to build and deploy products that solve customer problems. On a typical work day, he works with designers, engineers and other stakeholders to improve products and ensure it meets user needs.  
Career hack
“There is little to how far you can get when you wait for people to tell you what is good for you. Geek out over your interests. Consume a ton of information on what you want to do, research, have a mentor, ask questions and go all out for things you find interesting. Devote time to learning, and be patient with yourself.”
Written by Amakanyadioha Chidera 

© 2022 Ventures Africa. All rights reserved

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