Photograph — Medium

My Pivot Journal is a Ventures Africa weekly series documenting people’s career transitions from one industry to another, especially to tech.

When Joyce Temilolu Daramola started as a product manager, she barely had time for anything. She had six years to study law and only six months to learn product management. Two years, several courses and calendar plans later, she has finally got the hang of it. Here is Joyce Daramola’s pivot journal.

How it started

Joyce Temilolu wanted to study law mainly to avoid studying mathematics. So although she grew up in a family of techies, she was unfazed by the tech space. “My dad is a computer scientist. He built the first computer school in Kogi state. My elder brother is a product manager, and my younger brother is a python engineer in agronomy. But I did not want anything to do with mathematics,” she says.


While in law school, Joyce freelanced on Fiverr, offering writing services and harnessing some marketing skills. But it was not enough for her to abandon studying law. After graduating from law school and being called to the bar, Joyce started practising law full time. “I would go to court, file documents, and interface with clients. I went the whole 9 yards,” she says.

Almost two years into her law career, Joyce was tired of the ills that plagued the Nigerian judiciary system. One of which was the meagre pay. She decided she would leave law and do something else. When she discovered there were tech jobs that do not require coding, she jumped on it. “I also think I eventually got influenced by my family,” she says. “Before I knew it, I found something interesting in tech. And my passion for it grew.”

Joyce Daramola


The first thing Joyce did was research tech roles. “Because I was looking for non-coding tech roles, I had to streamline my research.” Joyce chose Product Marketing and took a 30-days course on it. Then she got a google certification in marketing and soon got a job as a product marketer in Abuja.

 She worked there for about three months before falling in love with product management. “When I started working as a product marketer, I interfaced with product managers. The job seemed interesting. When I realized I loved everything about product management, I took a step to learn it,” she says.

It took Joyce six months of intentional learning to get started with product management. She went to the Utiva product school for three months. At Utiva, she networked and learned about the Nigerian tech ecosystem. Afterwards, she bought more product management courses on Udemy and Coursera. “I took every course that Cole Mercer and Evan Kimbrell had on Udemy, like advanced product management and fundamentals of product management,” she says.

“My learning period was an intentional one. I wanted to understand what I was doing before going into product management,” she adds. After six months of learning, she started applying for internships. Unfortunately, many employers are not receptive to product management interns. “Employers often want very qualified people,” she notes. So, it took Joyce a while to get her first job.

Fortunately, one of the important things she did while preparing herself for the tech role was reach out to senior product managers on LinkedIn and liaise with them. “One of my mentors put in a good word for me in the company he worked for. They were not hiring interns at the time, but they decided to give me a chance,” she says.

After three months of interning with the company, Joyce got to take on her first solo project. “Handling my first project on my own was overwhelming,” she recalls. “The senior product manager was leaving the company at the time. So I had to handle the project alone. I spoke to the product manager about my anxiety, and he set up a reading plan for me. I remember he told me not to worry, that sometimes it is easier to let the eaglet fly on its own, so they learn how to fly.”

How it’s going

Currently, Joyce is the product manager for Demz analytics, a consulting firm that builds tech solutions for companies within and outside Nigeria. As a product manager, Joyce’s job entails creating timelines, doing user research, and interfacing with the users of different tech products.

Although Joyce works remotely in Nigeria, her users are in Kenya. This means she has to maintain strict communication with them. “I also have to communicate with my team in Kenya daily and get user feedback. Then I translate this feedback into requirements for my team, prioritise tasks, and create a timeline for the features’ expected release date,” she says.

So far, Joyce has been a product manager for two years and has worked on different products. Her favourite products to work on are Fleet Golf and Fleet Manager. “Fleet Golf is a government-centred application used to track commercial vehicles. We connect the vehicles to the Fleet golf system with API, and the government uses it to track accidents, overspeeding, and other violations. Fleet Manager help users track their vehicles and devices. We are still working on it. Eventually, you would be able to track anything, including pets. It’s an exciting product pair,” she says.

Joyce does not regret pivoting. “Honestly, being a lawyer was easier than being a product manager. I have to push myself every day to get better,” she says. She has not stopped learning and improving her skills. “I’m currently taking a six-month google product management course on Coursera, and I am on the fourth month. I also do a lot of random reading and listen to e-books. One I would recommend is a 300-page e-book on how to answer product management interview questions,” she says. 

Despite everything she has going, working remotely and having flexible work hours afford her time for herself. “When I started, I would try to do everything at once. Instead of sleeping at night, I would be working. I did not have time for myself. I had to create a plan to organise my activities. These days I’m more relaxed. Now, when I close at five, I visit the gym,” she says.

Career hack

“Do your research and make sure product management is what you want to do,” she says. “Then work on your transferable skills, especially communication skills, because that is eighty percent of your job as a product manager. In the end, success is determined by how well you can communicate with your team and your stakeholders. And finally, when starting out, reach out to senior product managers (LinkedIn is a good place to start) to mentor you and guide you.”

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