Black History Month is dedicated to honoring and commemorating the important events, notable accomplishments, and people who have contributed—and continue to contribute—to African American history. While we tend to celebrate the past and its historical figures, it is also important to celebrate those in the present that are continuing to pave the way for the future. Ronke Majekodunmi, the Director of Product Management at Promevo, has risen in leadership throughout her career and is now doing her part in shaping the future of this industry by sharing her knowledge with younger generations.
In 2021, Zippia , a website that extracts intelligence from real-world experiences to help people discover new jobs and career paths, analyzed their database and found that 34.8% of product managers are female in the United States, and 4.2% of product managers are Black or African American. We chatted with Ronke to learn about her experiences within the industry and how she’s making this career path more accessible to the Black community and women.
What barriers have you had to overcome during your career?
When certain opportunities have not worked out for me, when dealing with personal and professional setbacks or failures, my mentors will ask me, what is next?
I have learned from these four incredible individuals the importance of getting up after disappointments and missteps. Owning my mistakes and, most notably, the importance of not running away from challenges but instead running toward opportunities. Perhaps the most valuable lesson of all is that the impossible may take a long time or cost money, but it is possible—and I am a testament to this life lesson.
Do you consider yourself a trailblazer?
I absolutely consider myself a trailblazer. There are opportunities that await us all when we choose to follow our dreams, despite seeming impossible to achieve. What keeps me going is my desire to be a part of history.
I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to use my leadership voice to help shape the next generation of diverse product makers. I look forward to making the transition easier for them or even blazing the path forward. After all, when we use our voice, we can create lasting change that impacts future generations to come.
Is there a person who inspired you to follow your career path?
I’m driven, motivated, intelligent, and graceful, and lead with humility. I’m profoundly grateful for my story in all of its messy brilliance. The person I am today has evolved throughout the years because four women took a chance and mentored me. I am a product of my village. They have guided and supported me at various stages of my professional and personal life. They all took me under their wing and provided me with truthfulness, robust advice, and support—even when I did not realize I needed or wanted it.
Why is sharing your experience in product management so important and why are you passionate about it?
As a product leader, it is a privilege to have the awesome responsibility of shaping the products our communities will use for years to come. Without diversity in our viewpoints and the inclusion of those different from us, our products would not have the same reach as they would if they were created with everybody in mind.
Why is diversity, equity and inclusion so important in the space where you work?
Diversity and inclusion are essential within the product management space because our cross-functional teams are made better by them. We can only build efficacious, best-in- class products with individuals from unique cultures, backgrounds, experiences, and beliefs.
A diverse product management team powers imagination, ingenuity, and creativity. It provides organizations with a competitive edge. In addition, when cross-disciplinary teams include individuals from unique ethnicities with different interpretations and experiences, we strengthen our propensity to comprehend the requirements of our current customers, leads, or prospects.
When product exploration encompasses a wide range of thinking, products can be built into something everyone can use regardless of race, ethnicity, and circumstances. By creating products that work for everyone, we can increase our customer base, allowing our organization’s revenue to grow. Diversity is essential to building best-in-class products.
How do you assist in mentorship and career development for women and other POC?
I have always been passionate about sharing my wisdom and experience with beginner product managers. Partnering with Product School, I have the unique opportunity to contribute to a community of over one million product professionals, sharing my industry insights to help shape their effectiveness and leadership.
At Product School, I host webinars teaching the importance of leading with empathy and gratitude and utilizing soft skills, interpersonal characteristics, and building coalitions. I also host Product Management Certification courses, where I guide product managers joining the space. In addition to my various teaching opportunities, I regularly volunteer my time at the University of Washington’s Product Management Center. There, I engage with and offer insights and guidance to empower product management students from historically marginalized communities.
In addition, I actively use my website and podcast to engage with fellow product managers and provide valuable content that helps expand their careers and create clarity from ambiguity. You can read more on www.ronkepm.com or tune into my podcast “Product Magic” on your favorite listening platform!