My Pivot Journal is a Ventures Africa weekly series documenting people’s career transitions from one industry to another, especially to tech.
Stephanie Osaji is one woman that is graced with the gift of eloquence, it’s no surprise she excelled as a customer representative in one of Nigeria’s major commercial banks. An English Language graduate, she tried her hands at writing and journalism immediately after school. It turned out not to be her forte. Today, Osaji is solving customer problems as a product manager and founder of Pagechap – a budding tech startup.
How it started
Stephanie Osaji was born 25 years ago in the bustling city of Lagos, Nigeria, to business-oriented parents from Anambra State (Southeastern Nigeria). At age 21, she graduated from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, where she studied English. In 2018, she returned to Lagos to serve in the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) for a year. During that time, she worked as a writer at Ventures Publishing International – Ventures Africa.
Shortly after her service year, she got a Customer Representative role at Union Bank during the pandemic. “Initially, I did not want to take the job. But considering that the pandemic came with a lot of uncertainties; people were losing their jobs and I could not foresee my future. I decided to take the job,” she said.
She soon warmed up to her new role and made the most of it. One thing she liked about her job was that it was customer-facing. “I could relate with people. I had to listen to their complaints about what they liked and did not like. How some services and products were not exactly what they would want them to be,” she stated.
The job gave Osaji insight into what people would or would not love to see in a product. However, she did not like that she lived a strict nine-to-five life. The job was rigid and stressful. “My stress level was high. I was always stuck in traffic. I started having back aches. I became very anxious and would go to bed being anxious for the next day,” she recounts.
Osaji’s banking job lasted a year and eight months, ending in late 2021. However, her experience in the role helped her identify a problem only technology could help her solve. The role gave her insight into customers’ pain points regarding products and services and what a world-class product should be – user-friendly.
Armed with the need to resolve customer problems, “I began to research and discovered that product management would allow me to chase my new passion of solving customer problems. To just try to make their lives easier,” she noted. In 2021, she pivoted to tech.
Having decided that product management was the career for her, she started taking classes. “I started by taking Udemy courses on product management. I started with Introduction to Project Management. I also reached out to people in the space for more resources,” she said.
According to the tech founder, some of the people she reached out to were gracious enough to send her articles. “A couple of friends granted me access to their own paid course on Udemy. They also helped me whenever I got stuck in my learning,” she added. “I also had access to free courses online. There are plenty of free materials online these days.”
Initially, she found it hard to understand the tech jargon. Thankfully, she had a club of product managers to always fall back to for clarifications. She did not have to buy any courses because her friends had bought most of them and shared them with her. “The learning process was not exactly smooth. But I had a support system that made the journey easier. I asked a lot of questions and connected to a lot of people,” she said.
How it’s going
Currently. Osaji works as a product manager at Clafiya, a tech company that helps people schedule appointments with health practitioners by simply dialling a USSD code. “I do product management and a bit of customer service as well. I love my job because it is flexible and helps me try new things; things I’m unsure about, things I have to do afraid. It keeps me on my toes,” she said.
Recently, Osaji built Pagechap, a one-link tool that allows creatives to merge and showcase all their work on a single personalised platform. “Not just creatives but anyone. It allows you to put links to your work, videos, pictures or anything you would like to showcase if you don’t have a website,” she stated. “I love tech because it keeps me on my toes and makes me try new things. I get to know a bit of everything. From marketing to engineering to team and stakeholders management and everything in between.”
The only challenge Osaji seems to have with tech is most companies’ unwillingness to take on newbies. “They would rather invest in people already in the industry with years of experience,” she stated. “They would rather poach talents that have worked for renowned companies than take chances on new talents.”
“Follow who knows the way.”
“Try to build your social circle. In tech, you cannot do it alone. Try to reach out to people in the industry you desire to pivot to.”
“Try to identify opportunity when you see one.”
“Put in the work. Learn. Upskill yourself. Tech is not a get rich scheme.”