November 23, 2022

Conversations With Black Product Managers: Quadri Oshibotu Of Product Hall

Originally published on Medium by Glenesha Grant as part of her "5 Coffees, 5 Days w/ Black Product Managers" series.

Our second feature is with Quadri Oshibotu, Senior Product Manager @ Alcumus — North America and Founder of Product Hall.

Quadri is an experienced Product Manager with multiple years of experience building world-class products. He is passionate about building products that have a positive impact on people’s lives and helping people grow through teaching, training, and mentorship.

I started by asking questions to learn more about Quadri’s story and his journey into the product management field as a Black professional.

G: Can you describe your journey into product management? How did it start and what’s next for you?

Q: In high school, I wasn’t sure of which career path I wanted to pursue so I decided to go to business school. One of the beneficial things about business is that it touches various industries, so I figured that I would sort out this decision in business school.

During my time in the program, I was leaning towards supply chain and logistics management, however, in my 3rd year of university, I started getting involved in start-ups.

From these experiences, I was eventually introduced to the founder of an app studio, Tiny Hearts, who gave me an opportunity to join his company as the first full-time hire soon after completing my undergraduate business program.

This is how I got into product management.

Someone from my ethnic background saw potential in me, gave me an opportunity, and mentored me throughout our time together (and continues to do so).

This was back in 2013. Today I am a more seasoned Product Manager with more than eight years of experience and manage one of the leading products in the EHS space.

Last year, I started Product Hall, an online school that provides new and aspiring Product Managers with the knowledge, mentorship, and support they need to succeed in their careers. To date, I have spent more than 550 hours teaching, training, and mentoring new and aspiring PMs.

G: If you have been a part of product management communities, how has being a part of them helped your career?

Q: Product Management as a practice is not uniform across all businesses and teams.

While some may not be as open about it, many Product Managers are constantly figuring it out (learning, experimenting, and modifying their approach to reach their goals).

There are many PM communities out there and one great thing about them is that you will find PMs that are willing to be vulnerable while sharing their journey with you but also openly share beneficial advice. Whether you need assistance levelling up your skills, preparing for an interview, or solving a work-related problem, you will find someone to assist you.

I value these communities because the content produced helps me constantly learn and gain perspective on how other skilled PMs are solving various problems.

I would also suggest subscribing to product newsletters too. I recently joined one called Lenny’s Newsletter.

Lenny and the community produce great product content. Along with access to thousands of PMs, every Friday I receive an email digest of curated product content and answers to questions posed by the PM community. There’s so much to learn about what’s happening in the field.

G: What is one innovative thing you are seeing changing in the product management field in the next 5–10 years?

Q: Technology is the future. As such you will always need individuals that can understand the problems that people face and use technology to define the right solutions and make them available in the right ways – these individuals are Product Managers.

I also think that Crypto is here to stay, and I’m curious to see how the industry will develop (I’ve been watching it for the past couple of years). It’s clear that as innovations continue in the software industry, Product Managers will continue to play a vital role.

Another thing that I am very happy to see in the PM field is that more companies are open to hiring remote Product Managers. This adds to the job options for PMs and can support a better lifestyle as well.

And lastly, we are seeing an increasing number of business leaders realize the value that PMs provide, and there is a growing demand for them as a result.

G: In your opinion, why do you think we aren’t seeing as many Black men and women in tech as we could?

Q: I think socioeconomic status is one key reason. When you read stories about tech founders a common thing you come across is that their parents bought them a desktop computer which they played and tinkered with until they became familiar with software and technology.

The fact is that for many Black men and women in North America our parents couldn’t afford to provide us with such a luxury.

Likewise, tech jobs are not as promoted in our communities. Many of us aren’t as aware of the opportunities available in the tech space as we are for other jobs and careers.

And to be frank, unfortunately, being a developer for example was not seen as a cool job when we were younger, but I do think that this is changing with the younger generation.

Advice for aspiring Black Product Managers

As someone who is considered a Product Teacher in his field, I thought it would be beneficial to hear some advice Quadri would have for aspiring Black Product Managers who want a career in tech.

G: What sort of advice would you give to someone that wants to shift careers into product management without a tech background?

Q: I would advise them to first learn as much as they can about product management. There are many available resources to learn what the role entails.

I suggest starting here because there is a lot of hype around the role and it may not be for everyone.

Anyone can become a Product Manager, literally anyone. Once you’re sure that this is the role for you I recommend the following:

1.Find a mentor

2.Take a course on product management

3.Learn as much as you can about how software and technology works

4.Implement what you learn by building something (the best way to gain experience)

G: What sort of advice would you give to Black men and women interested in a career in product management, but don’t see themselves represented in tech companies?

Q: Don’t be discouraged by the lack of representation that you may not see in many companies. Trust me when I say that there are many Black men and women who are in the tech scene and thriving.

Also, there are many communities and groups that are extremely supportive and working on solving this specific issue. For example, the Black Product Managers (BPM) Network and the Black Professionals in Tech Network (BPTN) are just two organizations, to name a few.

Both are amazing organizations with thousands of talented Black men and women who are happy to support Black professionals and help them thrive in their PM/tech careers.

Originally published on Medium by Glenesha Grant as part of her "5 Coffees, 5 Days w/ Black Product Managers" series.  Find more interviews from the series here.
Glenesha Grant

Associate Product Manager at Loblaw Digital