My Pivot Journal is a weekly series from Ventures Africa documenting people’s career transitions from one industry to another, particularly into technology.
Paul Osawe Solomon’s career path has been an adventure of exploring skills that pique his interest. After spending nearly four years exploring the modern marketing space, Paul discovered a new interest in product management. This is Paul Solomon’s pivotal diary.
how it started
Paul’s time in marketing has exposed him to broad areas such as marketing strategy, content marketing, paid advertising, analytics and content writing.
During this period, he worked as a Senior Advertising Specialist at Opera Ads. Then he moved to work at Bank of life. At Life Bank, he led high profile customer acquisition campaigns and user acquisition app products such as A donor app & Stock bank. The One Donner app is an innovative blood donation app that helps people schedule an appointment to donate blood, while the stock bank app helps hospitals easily procure medical consumables. It went on for a while until he decided he wanted to be a product manager.
“I have a tech-savvy older sister. She influenced my decision to move into tech full time. His older sister, a software engineer, was an inspiration to him. She always told him about cool technology and all that can be gained from it. His stopping point was in 2016 when he learned Andela, a global placement network for software developers, and how deeply everything the network works resonated with him. At this point, he knew he wanted a career in technology, but he didn’t know how or where to fit in.
While at Life Bank, he started researching what someone like him, interested in different complementary skills, could do. He realized that product management revolved around the software product business and other key areas that he was knowledgeable about. He decided product management was what he wanted to do full time.
He completed an intensive 3-month virtual course in Product Marketing with Product Marketing Alliance in the United States. He did this to tie his marketing skills into marketing software products. At this point, he was actively practicing product marketing at Life Bank. Paul also turned to Udemy and Youtube to further his knowledge.
“My need for actual certifications led me to explore the different courses I could get my hands on. I took a short course on Udacity, on product management fundamentals,” Paul explained. He also completed an 8-month software product management course at the University of Alberta on Coursera. “I knew without a doubt that it was time for me to make the transition. I needed to leverage my background in marketing and design to get a product manager position,” he said.
Three months later, he landed a role in iQube Laboratories as a product manager for a product line called MyserciceAgent and led the product team to capacity management and growth. As a product manager at iQubes, his tasks consisted of improving software products, proposing new product features and performing market testing.
While at iQubes Labs, he got a better deal at an agritech startup, VorianCorellihelping the team to create the first version of a corresponding application, a web app which helps key players in the agricultural value chain to trade transparently.
However, his transition was not without difficulties. His first job as a product manager required him to take a pay cut. “I didn’t mind because my goal was to get into product management,” he said. Plus, he was new to the technology, so it took a while to master the terrain. Often, he would visit his online classes to figure out what to do.
How are you
Paul is currently Product Manager at Quidax, one of Africa’s leading cryptocurrency exchanges. “I started learning more about the crypto industry and blockchain,” he said. Its main role is to create and deploy products that solve customer problems. During a typical workday, he works with designers, engineers, and other stakeholders to improve products and ensure they meet user needs.
“There’s not much you can do when you’re waiting for people to tell you what’s good for you. Pay attention to your interests. Consume a ton of information about what you want to do, do research, have a mentor, ask questions, and do whatever you find interesting. Make time for learning and be patient with yourself.
Written by Amakanyadioha Chidera