My Pivot Journal is a Ventures Africa weekly series documenting people’s career transitions from one industry to another, especially to tech.
Jennifer Daniel possesses an expansive creative mindset and a profound passion for bringing novel ideas to life. Having initially pursued a career in Mass Communication and gaining diverse experience across various sectors, she successfully transitioned into the tech industry as a Product Designer. Here is her pivot journal:
How it started
I enrolled in Mass Communications at the University of Lagos in 2014, successfully graduating in 2018 with a major in film and broadcasting and a minor in public relations. Following graduation, I embarked on my professional journey as a talent manager and later transitioned to the real estate sector, where I assumed the role of a sales manager for several months. Despite the diverse experiences, I found myself yearning for greater career fulfilment.
Recognizing the need for a change, I decided to take a career break before fulfilling my mandatory one-year National Youth Service Corps (NYSC). I served in Birnin-Kebbi, Kebbi State (Northwestern Nigeria) and completed my NYSC in 2020. It was during this time that I stumbled into the world of technology, and the year 2020 marked a significant turning point in my career. It was the auspicious year when I caught the “tech bug,” igniting a newfound passion for the tech industry.
I soon realized that tech was the domain where I was destined to build my career. I struggled to find fulfilment elsewhere, and it was taking a toll on my well-being. Fortunately, tech became my remedy for overcoming challenges, including depression. Before this discovery, I had ventured into fashion design as a brand owner and engaged in small social media projects. With an inherent creative mindset and a passion for creation, tech emerged as a transformative discovery.
Driven to address my depression and anxiety, I delved into extensive research about the tech field. The more I explored, the clearer it became that tech was my calling. A turning point occurred when an old friend, who owned a small company, offered me the opportunity to contribute by creating UI/UX designs using WordPress. That marked the inception of my career in tech.
I’ve never been as intentional about anything as I have been about tech. During my transition, I did not have a laptop, so I prayed for a miracle. My mom soon bought a laptop at a discount. I saw it as an answer to my prayers and quickly claimed it to practice what I had learned from a friend.
I enrolled in several Coursera courses and collaborated with my friend for practical experience. Although my first Udacity course in product design was challenging, the hands-on practice in the field significantly accelerated my learning. Engaging in self-directed learning, I compiled useful links and videos in a digital notepad, creating a timetable to structure my learning.
Learning UI/UX brought unprecedented excitement; I immersed myself in reading and constant practice. My parents, initially concerned yet hopeful, witnessed a positive transformation in their once-depressed daughter. Since I transitioned into tech, I’ve been able to access different economic sectors with my tech skills. In my last role as a Product Design Lead in 2021 at Access Bank plc, I took on a leadership position guiding design decisions for B2B and B2C products. That was a core financial service sector.
While I cherished leading and managing a product, I recognized the challenge of time management due to the workload. Looking back, I acknowledge the importance of better time management and maintaining a healthy work-life balance.
How it’s going
I currently work at Interswitch Group as a Product Designer, contributing to the growth and enhancement of Quickteller to ensure seamless payment and services for millions of global users. In my role, I focus on practical solutions and understanding the underlying reasons (‘The why’). My responsibilities include design thinking, brainstorming, research, wireframing, and testing. This involves multiple meetings with cross-functional teams and stakeholders.
An ongoing challenge in my role is the continual need for iteration, an inherent aspect of the design process. However, I appreciate the collaborative aspect, engaging with diverse perspectives and ideas during brainstorming sessions, and fostering personal and professional growth.
Last year, while reviewing my transition notes, I rediscovered a collection of links I had created in a digital notepad while transitioning to tech. This discovery led to the creation of my UX resource hub website, uxresourcehub.com. It offers free UI/UX learning pathways, videos, resources, and a study guide. This initiative is my way of giving back to the tech community.
Focus on personal progress – Start your tech journey by concentrating on your steps, and avoiding comparisons with others.
Understand your motivation – Reflect on why you want to transition into tech and let that motivation drive your efforts.
Explore tech fields wisely – Recognize the diversity of tech careers and research to find the field that aligns with your preferences.
Prioritise intentional learning and support – Approach learning with intention, seek mentorship for guidance and connect with a community for mutual support.