Shefunmi Durojaiye is the Country Programme Manager at Oracle Academy. She is also a certified Project Manager for 5years and counting.

In this interview, she shares her experience of how she transitioned into the Tech Industry from working as an Event Management Professional.

Listen to the Interview with Shefunmi

Full Transcript of the Interview with Shefunmi

Heels and Tech: How did you get your first role in Tech?

Shefunmi: My first role in tech was very unexpected, I didn’t even have the full details of the tech company.  I had applied as a programs manager based on my project management skills, the role was to run the Oracle Academy programs and that was it.

It was supposed to be basically managing projects under their philanthropy arm which stood alone and it was supposed to focus on education and ICT. That was how i got into tech, It was unassuming for me, I didn’t even know what I was getting myself into honestly, I didn’t have the full understanding at the time.

Heels and Tech: What were some of the transferable skills you used from your previous place of work?

Shefunmi: I came from a brand and communications, philanthropy, sustainability and event planning background and with my project management background, that was what I came on board with, knowing that I will be running and developing projects,short and long term education based projects,  that was the skill I brought on board. Managing operations, managing stakeholders, alot of stakeholders both junior, senior and other levels.

Heels and Tech: What are the key skills for a successful Project Manager?

Shefunmi: a) Organizational skill cannot be over emphasized. One of the things that would happen a lot as a project manager is a lot of communication channels are open to you and from you.

b) Stakeholder management is another thing because when you are running a project you are everybody’s servant and everyone’s boss.

As a project manager, most times people do not report to you as per organogram or hierarchy but they do have to send their report to you and that’s how you manage people.

You work with senior, junior, same level on a project and because you are the project manager, they don’t answer directly to you but you have to know how to get all of the resources and information from them to make the job progressive.

So key skills for me would be organizational skills, stakeholder management skill and strategic thinking.

So gone are the days where management will just tell you what to do, nowadays project managers are required to sit at the table, strategize, define and even look for funding for the project, do a prototype before you go into the full project and then after the project is over, you hand it over to the organization as a continued operations.

So you have to understand the length and breath of project management.

Heels and Tech: What is some advice you have for people looking to enter into Project Management?

Shefunmi: Everybody is developing, there is a development program where you turn to, it’s either a new product for an existing organization or a new process for them or an entire company or an entire program all of a sudden.

We are in a developing country and there is a lot of development going around. All of these developments usually start as pilot projects before it becomes an operation.

I would say that it is a good time to be a project management professional, get yourself trained even though you don’t want to go for the certifications yet, get yourself trained and learn the practices, it helps you.

Another advice is to open your mind to do strategic thinking. You are not a project manager if someone has to tell you what to do always, that’s not who a project manager is. One of the things I have to say is, knowing that you have to sit on the table to do research and let data inform your decision.

Heels and Tech: What are the mindset and soft skills one should have in order to become a successful PM?

Shefunmi: Basically, the 5 core areas in project management are:

  1. Initiating
  2. Planning
  3. Execution
  4. Monitoring & Controlling
  5. Closing

Get trained and start  practicing in the least way you can.

Mindset for you is to think organisation, length and breath , think deeply about the project, think full circle, the people that will be affected or will benefit from the project. As a project manager you cannot be one sided, you have to be round sided (for lack of better words).

Your mindset should just be executional and planning.

Soft skills

  • Technology
  • People management
  • Data management
  • Data interpretation
  • Decision making

When I tell people to fill in information, it is because the data collected will inform me on some decisions I need to make based on the information collected. So you have to be thinking about data and decisions.

Heels and Tech: What advice would you give people who hope to transition to tech?

Shefunmi: Be open minded; Take it all in; Ask questions; Be willing to research

Thank you for having me.

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