Oluwatoyin Oshinowo (PhD)
Years in Tech
Co-founder & VP, Product, Fieldinsight
Project Management, Product Strategy, and a little bit of Data Science
14th December, 2018
Toyin is Product Management professional with 8 years experience and has a passion for product development within the Nigerian Tech space. She has a MEng in Computer Systems Engineering and a Ph.D. in Engineering from the University of Warwick.
Her work experience includes being Team Lead of Online Infrastructure Management at GTBank Nigeria. At GTBank, her keystone projects included the SME MarketHub www.smemarkethub.com, GTBank Internet Banking Redesign and GTBank’s web and mobile apps. In 2014 she was the Product Lead for the Nigerian Stock Exchange website redesign project www.nse.com.ng.
What experiences led you to technology and how did you develop the skills to compete in the industry?
I am born to two loving parents with two fabulous sisters – no brothers. Growing up, I was my father’s personal assistant around the house. My father was and still is a very hands-on handyman and gadget geek. I guess his passions influenced me – technology has always been my interest. Fast forward to my undergraduate 4th year project, I became obsessed with modelling problems to find solutions. My 4th year project became my Ph.D thesis “The registration of images obtained from a digital Ophthalmoscope” which involved me learning biology, physics principles, camera technology, image processing, pattern recognition, Fourier transforms and C# .NET to solve this the problem. That was my first proper stint (though I didn’t know it then) in product design and I was hooked.
Fast forward to today, the questions are different but I’m still modelling problems to find solutions within business and technology: What is the goal of your business? What are your customer pain points? What is the value proposition of your solution? Would people be willing to pay for your proposed solution? What technologies should you use? How do you define your product roadmap etc.
How has your background helped/differentiated you in the tech industry?
I live with Sickle Cell Beta Thalassemia (SBThal), which is a type of Sickle Cell Disease. Some might consider this a weakness, but I have decided to use it to focus on my strengths. Living with a chronic disease influences your work ethic.
Due to my skill set and position within my company, I am a key-man risk – and a high one at that. If I am taken out for a couple of days due to a sickle cell crisis, I need for my business to still run while I recuperate without me being the bottleneck. This has made me conscientious about my focus on the defining and obtaining goals, documentation, collaboration and accountability.
What advice would you give to women considering a career in technology? What do you wish you had known?
Know your worth!! I’m reminded of an incident when in previous employment where I was pushing my agenda forward for a promotion. I spoke to fellow colleague (obviously he was senior to me) about how I should go about it and his response was “Why are you angling for a promotion now? You live in your father’s house. You don’t need it” . As a woman – you will be confronted with these mindsets and I urge you to fight for your worth. To do this you need to arm yourself with skills and experience. Seek out mentors to help guide your career goals and if all else fails don’t be afraid to set out on your own.
Never be afraid to ask questions. I say this to my interns – Never be afraid to ask questions. You will never learn or know you are on the wrong/right path if you never ask questions “Why?” is a powerful sentence. I’ve found it elicits two reactions:
An awesome conversation where ideas are defended, discussed, and with a better understanding of a concept or defensiveness, ego, and an unwillingness to collaborate.
Do not let the latter put you off. There will always be individuals who will put you down citing – you are not technical enough or you can’t possibly understand the answer. Don’t EVER let them decide that for you – you are the only one who can determine your own understanding/intelligence.