2 years of product leadership.

Ted Oladele
5 min readJun 28, 2022


My foray into product management officially began in San Francisco in 2019. We (Nosa, Azeez, and I) were in San Francisco for work. It was a quick decision — the former product manager had just announced his impending transition from the company, effectively creating a vacancy for the role. We couldn’t miss a beat, given all that was at stake at the time. GB asked me to assume the role as they deemed me to be a right fit. Seeing as I led and would continue to lead the design team, my title quickly changed to Acting Head of Product and Design.

From left to right, GB, AZ, O, Ted, Nosa

This didn’t really come as a surprise, as design and product development are intricately interconnected at Flutterwave. Our designers are core product team members and are essential to successful product sprints, development, and delivery. When I started to officially put on the Head of Product hat, one key agenda for me was figuring out how to adapt the systems and design thinking processes that made our design team successful to the product org. Given the stage we were at as a company, it was a crucial time to do some foundational work that set the tone for how we operate today.

Major highlights

The first course of action for me was to institute a new name for our pioneer product at the time(Rave) that was more in sync with its vision and propositions. Rave became Flutterwave for Business. There was also an internal drive to get everyone to start addressing the products by those names.

The next challenge was restructuring the product team into smaller units, as it was counterintuitive and difficult to have one large product team. Some of the first things I did to solve this was breaking the F4B (Flutterwave for Business) product into smaller producing units. This was inspired by Amazon’s 2 pizza team structure, an ideology that supports making teams as lean as possible such that a particular team is never larger than can be fed by two boxes of pizzas.

Beyond designing the teams for efficiency and productivity, it was practical to define the product areas across our larger product ecosystem which we would focus the teams around. For Flutterwave for Business, we had to critically reassess the different offerings and capabilities within the suite (Payments, Card Issuing, Commerce, Capital, Compliance, Settlement, Onboarding, etc) and define product functional areas along those lines. This made it easier to set up the product teams to have more focus and a clear path to success.

This structure helped to improve team cohesion and empowered us to optimally support our customers and other cross-functional teams. Consequent to the division of the product team into units, the model product team in the company became a composition of a product designer, a frontend engineer, a backend engineer, a product manager, and a quality assurance analyst as the core product development team; with stakeholders from a marketing, customer support, sales, and compliance making up the larger team.

One thing that the new structure made glaringly obvious to us was that we were going to need to do quite a bit of hiring. Essentially creating new product teams also meant we had to hire new product managers for the products that didn’t have one. In the meantime, I made it a point of duty to actively communicate with and support all the teams so when there’s a design sprint, they have as much context as possible to create the best plan that’s possible for a product. The next line of action was to create a workforce plan of some sort.

Naturally, there was some pushback. Successfully making a case for why it was the right direction for the company to take and eventually getting the needed backing is one of the shining examples of stakeholder management I’ve executed.


As challenging as it was to lead the design and product teams at a high-growth global fintech company, it afforded me the opportunity to directly influence innovation and product vision across the company. It also allowed for the creation of structure and standards which continue to shape the direction of both teams today, and some of the work we’ve done has defined standards for our industry as well.

Some key changes instituted include:

  • The synergy between the engineering, product, and design team: Product delivery timelines were greatly optimized and we could ship quickly due to the elimination of communication barriers and other decision-making blockers.
  • Product designers thinking like product managers, product managers thinking like product designers: this helped put things in perspective for members of both teams to create the best product experience for our customers.
  • Introduction of Release Notes within the company: There was a gnawing problem of customers being aware of our products before other non-product team members of the company were. This caused a major drawback for the customer relations unit in particular which was quite embarrassing as users had complaints on products which even they weren’t aware had launched. The implementation of release notes which were published and shared internally helped solve this conundrum. Today, no product would launch publicly without launching internally first.

Will I do this again?

To start with, being a product manager opened my eyes early to one of the most important obligations of a product manager, which is stakeholder management. This was a major challenge for me, and it brought me out of my comfort zone which meant interacting with people 60% of the time when all I wanted to do was build products. These interactions, however, were key to the smooth running of the teams working together and successful product launches.

Corporate communication was also a skill I had to hone to help bring things into perspective for other stakeholders to have more buy-in on ideas and initiatives. I had to master how to effectively articulate propositions and get management backing on ideas I knew would move the company forward.

My roles as Head of Product and Design made me realize managing two teams was doable, and all I just had to do was manage my time more effectively.

This basically sums up the highlights of my journey as a product manager at Flutterwave. Now, would I take this role again? Probably not. I would if it didn’t include stakeholder management which is one of the core functions of a product manager so NO. What I do miss actually is the power or control it affords you to influence the trajectory of product development as there are some decisions I might not be aligned with but I’m also not in the position to disagree with so I move on.

I’ve since returned to managing the design team, as Vice president of Design. Just as it is with design, the core goal for me when I assumed the role in Product was to create processes that help improve people’s lives, I think we did well. Today, both teams are greatly in sync and collaborate extremely well to create value for the millions of people and businesses who use the products we build.