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Female Founders: Ronke Majekodumi of Promevo On The Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed as a Woman Founder

An Interview With Candice Georgiadis

As a part of our series about “Why We Need More Women Founders”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Ronke Majekodumi.

Product Management is at the epicenter of all company innovation. It’s what drives businesses forward, solidifies customer relationships, and changes lives. Don’t believe us? Just ask Ronke.

Ronke Majekodunmi is a powerhouse product manager who is passionate about crafting exceptional products and sharing her breadth of knowledge with up-and-coming product leaders, especially those with diverse backgrounds.

As the current Director of Product at Promevo, Ronke’s responsibilities include frequent collaboration with global stakeholders, leading strategy, and developing new products. She has experience creating product lifecycles and composing product visions, and she has achieved optimal performance levels for products across a variety of industries.

Outside of her 9-to-5, Ronke is a teacher at heart. She’s spoken publicly about product management at dozens of events, writes ardently about her career journey, and records “Product Magic,” a podcast dedicated to showcasing the people that make it happen.

If you’re working on any business pieces about major products, launches, or brand news, Ronke is available for comment or interview. She is also available for longer-form speaking opportunities and to write op-eds on a variety of business- and product-related topics, including mentorship, teamwork and innovation, and management best practices.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

After college, I took a job in tech support for a bankruptcy filing program at LexisNexis, where I supported bankruptcy filing attorneys. Over time, I became the subject matter expert for the engineering team, where they would ask me to represent the voice of the customer, help rank customer problems, and duplicate bugs in the system. Then, when a content role became available, I applied for it and became the forms creator for the software, working with a product manager. I learned a lot from her, and when she left, I was promoted to the PM role.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

Since I founded RonkePM, the most surprising thing to me is that by using my leadership voice and sharing my own stories, I have been able to help shape the next generation of product leaders. In essence, I am helping to make the road easier for them, and in some cases where there is no road, I am helping to construct one.

Supporting the product management community has enriched my life as well. I have built long-lasting connections and relationships with other product managers and leaders to whom I wouldn’t have otherwise been introduced. I have conceptualized ideas that will continue to affect my perceptiveness for the rest of my life unequivocally. Giving back to the product community has sharpened my leadership skills and character.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

There are countless mistakes I’ve made during the start of my career. For example, in the middle of doing webinars, I’ve had so many gaffes, slips, and mispronounced words. Since they’re all recorded, people will see and hear my blunders. I’m OK with this because mistakes are unavoidable, and I believe my flaws have made me more astute. Acknowledging and owning my failings have made me a better person and leader. Additionally, I understand and accept failure as part of my journey to becoming an exceptional leader.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

If we look around and observe successful individuals, they have a village and a personal board of directors. They all have a trusted group of people who had real constructive impacts on their lives. The person I am today has evolved because four women took a chance and mentored me.

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.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. According to this EY report, only about 20 percent of funded companies have women founders. This reflects great historical progress, but it also shows that more work still has to be done to empower women to create companies. In your opinion and experience, what is currently holding women back from founding companies?

Let me start by saying Black and Latinx women opening businesses is great for the economy. Additionally, studies have shown that organizations deliver better outcomes when more women lead them. So, in my opinion, and experience, what’s holding women back from founding companies is that we are not planning, strategizing, or thinking about opening businesses ahead of time. And when we do, we are not dreaming big; we are ok with the success we garnered. Another challenge we face is not many women in venture capital with the wealth, and capital that can lead and support significant investments in companies founded by Black and Latinx women.

Can you help articulate a few things that can be done as individuals, as a society, or by the government, to help overcome those obstacles?

We can begin by reviewing and analyzing investment alliances to acquire better and obtain the proportion of funding for companies founded by Black and Latinx women vs. their counterparts. Additionally, research specifies that more women administrators and decision-makers in the venture will produce aftereffects in more women-founded businesses getting funding and support to grow more than initially strategized.

Furthermore, ventures must also assess their funding practices and processes to decrease bias in their appraisal process. For example, some firms put blind auditions into practice for early pitch stages, and they also disseminate approved and sanctioned sets of questions that all founders are asked in pitch meetings. These modifications can go a long way in equitability and fairness for the future of business.

What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a founder? Can you explain what you mean?

I’d like to dispel the myth that “founders do not have a work-life balance.” This is not true; I believe you can strike a balance. My significant other is very supportive of me in accomplishing my goals and dreams, he pushes me harder even when I think what I want to achieve is not within my grasp or might be impossible.

To ensure that we spend time together, we save for weekends for date nights. In addition, we plan multiple trips throughout the year, we book them early, so we have something in which to look forward.

Another myth is that “founders are all young.” People can be founders at any age. Sometimes the passion and calling to start your own business comes later in life.

Is everyone cut out to be a founder? In your opinion, which specific traits increase the likelihood that a person will be a successful founder, and what type of person should perhaps seek a “regular job” as an employee? Can you explain what you mean?

The attributes needed to be a successful founder are as follows:

  • They champion a culture of intellectual fortitude — Founders form a culture of intellectual boldness and fearlessness. They provide a supportive, safe environment where team members and direct reports can have different opinions, and disagreements, and not conform to the status quo or accept things the way they have always been.
  • They communicate clear product vision — Founders recognize that for their company’s strategy and vision to be transformative, they must share it through storytelling. But, even more indispensably, the story needs to travel easily. Likewise, the story must be compelling so that every staff member can remember and repeat it.

Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. Self-development — Being an effective and authentic leader necessitates being self-actualized. One of the lessons imparted to me through mentorship is that a genuine leader assesses the effect of their comportment and adjudications while examining their own personal SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis without any predisposition.
  2. The importance of mentorship — I looked to my mentors for guidance as they were people I revered. I studied their attributes and how they lead and engage with their direct reports, colleagues, leadership, and stakeholders. I paid a lot of heed to how they performed under pressure, especially when their organization is going through external and internal changes. They always put people first.
  3. Cultivating alliances — It’s of the utmost importance that we cultivate allies in our workplace. We cannot go at it alone. We need individuals who are invested in our success and help us bring our work mission to fruition. When the going gets tough, we need allies to hold our hand and help us get through the most difficult days and challenges.
  4. Altruism — Another significant experience from my mentors, which has helped me, was learning to put my ego aside and concentrate on the needs of my teams and the organization. Essentially, building the people and then products so the team’s needs come first.
  5. Empathy — Listening with empathy has never been more paramount, as the impact of the pandemic has directly affected our well-being, mental fitness, and workplace citizenship. In addition, we are all experiencing unease about the world, our families, our careers, and the uncertainty of what life will be like post-pandemic, so it must be reflected in how we relate to one another.

How have you used your success to make the world a better place?

I have and continue to mentor young women in product management. I love supporting young girls in grade school, women starting their careers, or even the women I work with daily. Then, I imagine how those actions can lead to more significant statistics of more women founders. That thought makes me extremely happy.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

I would love to inspire a movement where Black and Latinx women founders to go back to their elementary, junior, and high schools to visit and answer questions often. Research has repeatedly shown that when mentorship begins earlier, it has profound psychological effects on young girls. They see who and what they can become early on, and they can start to chart their path to shattering the glass ceiling that so many before them have begun to crack.

We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

Warren Buffett (Chairperson of Berkshire Hathaway). Regardless of his accomplishments and accolades, he is still humble and filled with gratitude. In addition, he is great at conveying his organization’s vision, mission, and objectives; he galvanizes his staff and board of directors through storytelling.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.

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Candice Georgiadis

Candice Georgiadis is an active mother of three as well as a designer, founder, social media expert, and philanthropist.