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Other Faces of Tech

Olabanji EwenlaFounder, Enoverlab and Product Manager

Olabanji Ewenla

What was growing up like for you?

Growing up was interesting and a mixture of good and bad times. I lost my father in 2012, which occurred during my transition from secondary school to university. To be honest, it really didn’t click at the time. I had a passion for playing football and was actively involved in sports throughout secondary school. After my father’s passing, I spent a few years at home before gaining admission to Lagos State Polytechnic, where I studied Urban and Regional planning even though I had wanted to study Political Science at the University of Benin. Alongside my studies, I pursued music, particularly playing the keyboard for church. After finishing school, I developed an interest in photography and learned the craft. I eventually recognized my inclination towards product management and began building a product-oriented business in Ghana and South Africa in 2017. Initially unaware of the term “product management,” my role involved actively engaging with customers, collecting feedback, and incorporating it into my work. I later transitioned into marketing communications before returning to product management. Currently, I work as the lead product manager at DASHOUT and co-founded Enoverlab, a product management training institute. They are also involved in undisclosed projects.

What did you want to be when you grow up?

Thank you for the question. When I was younger, I had dreams of becoming a pilot, and that desire still lingers in my mind today. Music was also a passion of mine, especially playing the drums in the children’s church. I remember breaking my mom’s buckets, and she used to jokingly tell me that I would have to buy new ones when I grew up. Alongside music, I aspired to be a movie director, drawn to the artistic expression it offered. This artistic inclination led me to explore photography, marketing communications, and even building products without realizing I was doing product management back in 2017. Although I temporarily stopped pursuing music actively, I still enjoy playing the keyboard and dabbling in music production. Looking back, I realize that these passions have always been a part of me, and I hope that in the future, when I have achieved financial success, I can delve into music, movie directing, and even fulfill my childhood dream of flying. It’s fascinating to see how life has unfolded, and I’m excited to continue exploring these creative avenues as time goes on.

Your Career Path?

To start off, I must admit that my career path wasn’t planned or based on vibes alone. It was more like going with the flow. For example, I stumbled into music when a friend introduced me to playing the keyboard, which eventually led me to learn photography and then venture into writing and marketing communications. The opportunity to build a product in Ghana and attract customers from South Africa was another unexpected turn, but I embraced the learning curve and found guidance from mentors along the way. One mentor suggested I explore product management, and after researching and considering my skills, I delved into it in 2020. Since then, I’ve been actively engaged in product management while also contributing my marketing expertise to various projects. It hasn’t been a straightforward journey, but the guidance of mentors has played a crucial role in shaping my career. In summary, my career path has been a blend of seizing opportunities, going with the flow, and being fortunate to have supportive mentors who have been integral to my professional growth.

Why did you start Enoverlab?

Hmm, okay. So, um, I started Enoverlab in 2021 after working as a product manager and sharing my experiences on LinkedIn. One person, Ibukun, a former GT Bank employee who had relocated to Canada, reached out to me for insights on product management. He mentioned that GT Bank’s product management lacked structure, leading to the underperformance of their Habari app. This sparked my interest in teaching product management to others. I noticed a growing demand for learning product management, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic, but existing training centers were expensive. This led me to establish Enoverlab, with the goal of providing affordable and structured product management training. Initially, it started as one-on-one sessions, but we eventually expanded to a classroom setup. Enoverlab was officially registered in September, although we had been active since May. Over the past three years, we have trained over 2000 individuals, with around 65% of them currently working as product managers worldwide. I am proud of our achievements and grateful for the opportunity to make a difference. It’s important to note that I co-founded Enoverlab with my wife, who had previous experience in product design and worked with me to build the company alongside our other venture, Perxels.

What advise would you give to new product managers?

When advising new project managers on networking and finding mentors, I stress the importance of patience, service, and humility. Many young professionals lack patience and the willingness to put in the effort to learn, often expecting immediate results. Sharing my own experience with a mentor whom I’ve never met in person, I highlight the value of providing genuine service and support without expecting anything in return. Building a mentor-mentee relationship takes time and investment, and being transparent about one’s intentions from the start is crucial. It’s essential to recognize that successful individuals have likely dedicated years of service and humility to achieve their goals. Active listening and absorbing insights from mentors are also vital for personal and professional growth.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

If I could give advice to my younger self, I would emphasize the importance of learning quickly and implementing ideas promptly. Looking back five years ago, I realize that the more I took action and made mistakes, the more I learned and accomplished. Often, we get caught up in overthinking and analysis paralysis, trying to make the perfect decision or weighing the pros and cons endlessly. However, I’ve come to understand that learning from both successes and failures happens when we swiftly put our knowledge into practice. By continuously learning, implementing, and iterating, we can gradually improve every aspect of our lives, leading to exponential growth. Reflecting on this, I imagine the potential if I had started implementing the things I’m working on now four years ago. I would likely be three or four times further ahead than where I am today. Therefore, my advice to my younger self is simple: Learn quickly, implement quickly, and repeat the process.

Any final words?

Closing remarks would be to encourage anyone out there, regardless of their profession, to embrace the philosophy of learning quickly and implementing quickly. From my experience training individuals to become product managers, those who displayed a relentless drive to learn and apply their knowledge swiftly stood out and achieved remarkable success. These individuals surpassed their peers in securing better job opportunities and experiencing rapid career growth. They were always eager to learn, ask questions, and take action. I’ve witnessed firsthand how these individuals excelled and obtained prestigious positions in renowned organizations. Therefore, my final words of advice to everyone, whether you’re a product manager, designer, analyst, or marketer, is to prioritize rapid learning and immediate implementation. By doing so, you will accelerate your personal and professional growth. Thank you.

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