We caught up with Stitch Product Manager Natalie Tirivanhu to find out more about her approach to Product Management at Stitch, and her passion around the potential for fintech in Africa.
It’s like when your mum is making you a pancake. Before she makes the pancake she first has an idea in her head. She then thinks of whether that’s the right idea or not based on a number of reasons like “Does she have the energy?” or “Is it the right weather for pancakes?” for example.
Once she comes to a decision to make the pancakes, she then needs to figure out who is going to make the pancakes, what they need to make them and where she’s going to get the ingredients to make them. Then she has to make sure all of those questions are answered before starting.
Once those questions are answered, the pancakes get made. She can decide to make one big pancake or many small ones. She also needs to decide when she’s going to serve them to you, and how. That’s basically what a Product Manager does with the products and services a company offers - not (usually) with pancakes.
After thoroughly assessing a variety of factors, doing research and answering lots of questions, we’re in the position to make data-backed decisions about creating, expanding on and shipping our products.
There are always problems in this space and opportunities to build products that have the potential to be groundbreaking – or even sometimes, good enough. There is a lot of uncertainty and hypothesising but when you do get it right - when you lean into more of the groundbreaking stuff - the euphoria, pride and camaraderie it elicits from the team is highly worthwhile.
Do all the small work – the work that feels like someone else should be doing; do it. It helps build greater context into the product development cycle and helps you understand what the expression “mini-CEO of the product” actually means.
My journey started when I expressed interest in moving into product management with my previous employer, and I was thrown into the deep end, which essentially meant owning an entirely new payment product. I did everything from testing to writing the end-user API documentation. From there I worked my way up to Associate Product Manager and eventually Product Manager, where I currently sit.
The people. We have a great team at Stitch. Everyone is kind and welcoming. There’s a lot of empathy that we channel towards each other, our merchants and their end-users which adds that human touch in a space where everything is so heavily technical. We also have a team of really intelligent innovators which makes ideating and problem-solving really fun and a great learning experience.
Africa has a unique set of problems and opportunities, and the packaging of the solutions is also completely different to what you’d see elsewhere. It makes building for African consumers very exciting because usually you start out with an idea that ends up being completely shifted by the very real realities of people’s lives, and what they deem as actual problems they are willing to pay to solve.
I spend my free time with music. Either making it as a producer or curating it as a DJ.
Teleportation. I love travelling but hate long drives or flights. So that would work perfectly for a person like me.
I’m currently watching Succession. I waited for the seasons to build up to the finale so I can watch without the disruption of waiting for new episode dates.
“Being a great orator is great but being a good listener is even better.”
I find this advice quite helpful for myself as a Product Manager because it encourages empathy through listening and building what users want and not what we think they want.
You can never go wrong with the classic two-minute noodles. University taught me.