Being a Product Manager at an LaaS firm

The good, the bad, and the ugly…

By Malaika Ademola-Majekodunmi

For those who may not know, Lendsqr is a Lending-as-a-Service company and not a lender. What does this mean? I’ll explain.

In simple terms, we provide Lenders with the technology they need to succeed. To go further, Lendsqr provides lenders with the relevant technologies and infrastructure, through APIs and cloud-based systems, that are required to maintain and improve their business.

Our services cover the entire loan origination process from the scoring and processing to the approval and disbursement and the repayments and collections. We aim to streamline the bulk of the lending business so our lenders can focus on improving their strategies and bettering their business.

We achieve this by building various in-house systems and services as well as partnering with other SaaS companies. To run this operation smoothly, we have a team of dedicated and driven professionals who understand the business and will do whatever it takes to succeed. One such person would be me 😅

My journey to becoming a product manager happened by chance. I started my life as a Chemical Engineer. Fun fact: Product management came out of engineering (or marketing). Anyways, engineers have been building stuff for centuries, even before we started calling ourselves engineers.

Since I already had a knack for building stuff and sometimes breaking them, becoming a Product Manager was a process that I eased into well. I did a stint of customer support and, I loved it. But I love building stuff more than fixing them.

As a PM, my work involves a bunch of stuff. I know that being a PM looks glamorous from the outside just as being the mother of cute kids — you don’t get to see the screaming tantrums and sleepless nights.

I am responsible for delivering new products to market within due time; which means tons of market research, boring meetings etc. I also juggle new features on existing products and ensure that we meet all requirements. Meeting requirements is like Noah floating his ark for the first time when the flood came even though he built it on some small mountain — it just had to work.

So to achieve this, I have to huddle (aka babysit, cajole, or even threaten) the support, design, and engineering teams behind a common goal to ensure the success of my product.

On a high level, I have to do complex Jujitsu with customers, teammates, stakeholders, and others to ensure that we are all working towards achieving the vision for my product.

With already existing products on the platform, managing our customers is quite interesting. Being able to empathize and understand their concerns and issues is of great importance. And when I say empathy, I mean Christ-like empathy filled with genuine concern because, as we know, the customer is always right, right? 🤐.

For a B2B2C company like ours, we also have to consider what would appeal to our customer’s customers, the borrowers. In essence, we create two products, one for our lenders and one for their borrowers. Understanding the pain points of the borrowers is also part of the JD.

Many of my days, I work closely with the product and customer support team. They interact with lenders (and sometimes their customers) on the platform and have good insights into the end-user customer needs.

On other days, I get semi-dolled up, head off to spend time talking to our lenders, hearing them out, and solving their problems. After all, we have a perfect alignment. If they don’t do loans, I don’t get paid; I can’t trek in Lagos 🤣

On the other side of the spectrum, there’s the development phase of a product. Here, I become my customer and product support team (who says there’s no I in team) and work closely with the design and engineering teams.

We work using a lean approach of achieving milestones and pushing the product out. This phase is equally as critical as it truly determines the success of the product.

On a high level, it seems pretty straightforward. The devil is in the details. Day-to-day, we are faced with different issues and plans changing. However, we adapt and push forward.

Sometimes, achieving this is quite tricky as we sometimes want to stick to the initial plan and timeline. Getting the team to move forward and readjust is very important.

As we continue to grow, the issues that arise become typical and somewhat expected, and of course, we have playbooks and guides for managing these things.

A typical day for me starts at 6 am, with tea in my hand to warm my heart and cool my nerves. I work remotely, so it’s straight to my little cubicle in the corner of my room, system on and, I delve right into work. I use anti-reflective glasses because staring at a laptop for too long is one sure way to go blind.

I plan my day and schedule all relevant emails. I follow up with everyone that owes me something, typically the developers (the bane of my existence but, I wouldn’t have it any other way and still love them), and organise my backlog analysing what next to push out.

Every other day, I meet with the Products team (PMs, designers and data science personnel). We run down what we have been able to achieve and those that are blocked. And from time to time, I meet with other stakeholders to get things done. We discuss the approach, document the process and build great stuff.

We are quite fast-paced. Sometimes it can be an uneventful day and, other times you’re dying in meetings till 10 pm. All-in-all it is a fun job as one gets to directly see the works of thy hands come to life. You learn every day, interact with various people and create something promising from scratch.

From what I have learned during my short time as a PM in Lendsqr, without any bias (maybe just a bit), the success-defining ingredient for any product is the Product Manager. You sometimes have to stand outside of the system and see the whole picture, that way you’re able to rebase and regroup and get things right.

It is truly a great experience, and you get to learn each day. So if you’re reading this as a potential customer, Product Manager or Developer, see this as your sign to join us at Lendsqr. You already have a PM that is customer-centric and a great team player. But what do I know, after all, I’ve only been a PM for 6+ months.

Lendsqr is a platform that takes the pain out of lending. Our initial focus is on small and individual lenders.