Transitioning from non-tech roles into Product Management

Iyin Fisher
4 min read
Remote Religion is a series which shines a spotlight into the life of a remote tech worker in Africa. We explore the promise and perils of remote work and how to navigate career transition.
In this edition of Remote Religion, we spoke with Anthony Agah, a former Lead Product Manager at Lazerpay. We talk about his experiences navigating different careers and settling into Product Management in the Web3 space.

Hi Anthony! I’m so excited to be speaking with you. Please tell us about yourself

Hi Iyin! My name is Anthony. I was the former lead Product Manager at Lazerpay. I am a product manager with over two years of experience building Web2 and Web3 user-centric products.

How did your tech journey start?

My tech journey has been one with a lot of explorations. While I was in university, I co-founded an agritech startup with a team of other students. My school organised a startup competition and we won! We actually got a lot of money - millions of naira. Unfortunately, the startup wasn’t successful.

That sucks. So you weren’t deterred by the experience of having a failed tech startup?

No, I wasn’t. The experience showed me that I enjoyed building products. I worked in HR at AIESEC as a talent manager when I was in university. I went on to work in marketing at an edtech company. After that, I was a project manager at an eCommerce company.

Wow! You’ve had quite the career journey! How did you get into product management?

After all these different roles, I ventured into product design. While doing this, I started looking for roles that would allow me to leverage my leadership and communication skills, and that’s how I stumbled upon product management. It just felt right, like it was for me.

What made you interested in the crypto/blockchain space?

As an individual, I’ve always traded on platforms like Binance, so I had a decent understanding of the space. With the way the Naira is constantly fluctuating, I loved the idea of being able to save your money and escape inflation. Professionally, a friend of mine posted about a crypto hangout back in 2019. I went to the event and met other crypto-curious people and that resonated with me.

You were at Lazerpay for the last couple of months. How was your experience?

My experience was amazing. It was the first crypto-based product that I got to build, which was really exciting. I was able to lead a product team from beta to launch. Being a Web3 product, the experience was quite different from Web2 which I’m used to, so I was able to learn a lot.

I also love the organisational structure. Lazerpay has a flat structure which means everyone has a voice, from the interns to the team leads. It felt like we were a family. It was a really great experience.

What do you like most about being a product manager?

I love leading a team and having the responsibility of implementing and executing a product from ideation to production. With a simple idea, you could build a solution or feature that could have an enormous impact on millions of people. It makes me feel like I have superpowers, being able to reach so many people with my work.

Love it! On the flip side, what’s the hardest thing about your job?

I would say the hardest thing is dealing with individuals with varying personalities. It can be difficult but I believe everything can be negotiated and solved. Another hard thing is having to say no a lot, even when you don’t want to. This is especially true with internal stakeholders but it's a necessary evil in product management.

What advice would you give to people looking to work in product management?

I have a couple of things I would tell them. Firstly, you don’t necessarily need to have a technical background to work as a PM. You also have to be prepared to wear several hats to make things work. There are several skills you need to be a good PM, whether it's communication/interpersonal skills, collaboration, strategy, etc

As a PM, you have to be curious and willing to learn. There are always new trends with regards to how products are being built or new frameworks, methodologies, processes, etc. You should be willing to read a lot and have a growth mindset. Finally, you need to be a people person and love collaboration. You’ll be leading people with various personalities so you need to be approachable.

How would you advise those looking to transition from Web2 to Web3?

I’d give them the same advice I give myself. Be willing to learn. There are so many things to learn about if we’re being honest. You can learn about protocols, DeFI, NFTs, gaming, cryptocurrencies. I could go on and on! Whether it’s videos or articles or courses you need to pay for, just be intentional about your learning.

That’s great advice. So what do you do for fun?

I like hanging out with friends. I like playing chess and video games. I also enjoy watching football - I’m a Liverpool fan. These are the kinds of activities you would find me doing during the weekend.

Awesome! So what’s next for you?

For me, I want to keep building products for the global market. I would like to be able to say that I have built things that are being used in more than 50-60 countries. I’d love to lead a globally distributed team of other crypto curious individuals, help them learn more about the blockchain space, and just build really amazing products.

Thank you for your time, Anthony! How can people follow you?

Thanks for having me, Iyin. People can follow me on my Twitter @Anthony_Agah

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