My Pivot Journal: How Joyce Daramola Got From Lawyer To Developing Vehicle Tracking Apps
My pivot journal is a Ventures Africa weekly series Documenting people’s professional transitions from one industry to another, particularly technology.
When Joyce Temilolu Daramola started out 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, multiple courses and calendar schedules later, she finally gets the hang of it. Here is the screenplay by Joyce Daramola.
how it started
Joyce Temilolu primarily wanted to study law to avoid studying mathematics. Despite being raised in a family of techies, she was unfazed by the tech world. “My father is a computer scientist. He built the first computer school in Kogi State. My older brother is a product manager and my younger brother is a python engineer in agronomy. But I didn’t want anything to do with mathematics,” she says.
While she was in law school, Joyce did freelance work Fiverr, provides writing services and uses some marketing skills. But dropping out of law school wasn’t enough for her. After graduating from law school and becoming an attorney, Joyce began practicing law full-time. “I would go to court, file documents and communicate with clients. I walked the whole 9 meters,” she says.
Almost two years into her legal career, Joyce was fed up with the ills plaguing the Nigerian justice system. One of them was the meager pay. She decided to drop out of law school and do something else. When she discovered there were tech jobs that didn’t require coding, she jumped at it. “I also think that eventually I was influenced by my family,” she says. “Before I knew it, I found something interesting in engineering. And my passion for it grew.”
The first thing Joyce did was research tech roles. “Because I was looking for non-coding tech roles, I needed to streamline my research.” Joyce chose product marketing and completed a 30-day 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 first started working as a product marketer, I was in contact with product managers. The job seemed interesting. Once I realized I love everything about product management, I took a step to learn it,” she says.
It took Joyce six months of focused study to get started with product management. she went to Utiva Product school for three months. At Utiva she networked and got to know the Nigerian tech ecosystem. After that, she bought more product management courses on Udemy and Coursera. “I’ve taken every class Cole Mercer and Evan Kimbrell have taken on Udemy advanced product management and Basics of product management,” She says.
“My learning phase was intentional. I wanted to understand what I was doing before going into product management,” she adds. After six months of learning, she began applying for internships. Unfortunately, many employers are not open to interns in product management. “Employers often want very qualified people,” she notes. So it took Joyce a while to get her first job.
Luckily, one of the most important things she did while preparing for the technical role was reaching out and connecting with senior product managers on LinkedIn. “One of my mentors put in a good word for me at his company. They didn’t hire interns at the time, but they decided to give me a chance,” she says.
After a three-month internship at the company, Joyce embarked on her first solo project. “Handling my first project alone was overwhelming,” she recalls. “The Senior Product Manager left the company at the time. So I had to do the project on my own. I spoke to the product manager about my anxiety and he created a reading plan for me. I remember him telling me not to worry that sometimes it’s easier to let the eagle fly alone so it can learn how to fly.”
How it is going
Currently, Joyce is Product Manager at Demz Analytics, a consulting company that develops technical solutions for companies inside and outside Nigeria. As a product manager, Joyce’s job includes creating schedules, conducting user research, and communicating with users of various technical products.
Although Joyce works remotely in Nigeria, her users are in Kenya. This means that she must maintain strict communication with them. “Also, I have to communicate with my team in Kenya on a daily basis and get feedback from the users. Then I translate that feedback into requirements for my team, prioritizing tasks and creating a timeline for the expected feature release date,” she says.
To date, Joyce has been a product manager for two years and has worked on various products. Her favorite products are Fleet Golf and Fleet Manager. “Fleet Golf is a government-centric commercial vehicle tracking application. We connect the vehicles to the Fleet golf system with API and the government uses it to track accidents, speeding and other violations. Fleet Manager helps users track their vehicles and devices. We’re still working on it. After all, you could track everything, including pets. It’s an exciting product pair,” she says.
Joyce does not regret the change. “Honestly, being a lawyer was easier than being a product manager. I have to work hard every day to get better,” she says. She has not stopped learning and improving her skills. “I’m currently doing a six-month Google product management course Coursera, and I am in the fourth month. I also do a lot of random reading and listening 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, telework and flexible working hours give her time for herself. “When I started, I tried to do everything at once. Instead of sleeping at night, I would work. I didn’t have time for myself. I had to create a plan to organize my activities. I’m more relaxed today. Now when I close at five, I go to the gym,” she says.
“Do your research and make sure product management is what you want to do,” she says. “Then work on your transferrable skills, especially communication skills, because that’s eighty percent of your job as a product manager. In the end, success depends on how well you can communicate with your team and stakeholders. And finally, at the beginning, you turn to experienced product managers (LinkedIn is a good place to start) to mentor and guide you.”