For the first five years at Paystack, I was focused on product and marketing execution. I joined as a freelancer and kept this energy for a long time. I enjoyed starting new teams, taking up new roles and solving increasingly bigger problems.
After my sabbatical last year, I had to find my place in Stefan’s new Engineering organisation. I figured I could either be an independent contributor leader (quality, systems) or an organisational leader (people, scale). I chose the former, updated my role to Design Director, and started looking for someone else to lead the team.
One year later — after a temporary stint with a Head of Design, unsuccessful attempts to replace her, picking up the work and learning about the different functions in the company, leadership training and management coaching, getting closer to Engineering Managers and realising they’re happy to help — I decided to take up management.
I was really stubborn about being an IC because I was yearning for those days back in SF and Ikeja cooped up just making stuff. But the company is not the same anymore. The problem is clearly much larger than whatever it is we were doing back then and requires a more complex organisation. Shola realised this a long time ago and now I can see what he’s built.
I figure the only way for me to get back to just making stuff is to hire and build a team that can run without me. The work doesn’t end, so what’s important is to build an organisation that can prioritise, align, organise, scale and execute quickly and to a very high standard. As I’ve grown into leadership, things like this have become more obvious.
I feel a little guilty for not prioritising management all these years. Not that I think I was a bad leader — I tried to set a good example, but I realise that this personal decision not to take management seriously or hire for it early enough has affected the growth of people on my team. But, c’est la vie.
I may shit on it a lot, but management is not that bad, especially when the mission is to build a high-performing global team that actively participates in and contributes to the design community in Africa. Don’t quote me outside, but I may even be enjoying it.
With the acquisition behind us, the company is in a different race. It took me some time to catch up, but I’m learning to pace myself for the marathon.