In product design, where creativity meets functionality, Tolu Oladimeji is a seasoned professional with a decade-long journey in shaping digital experiences. Based in Berlin and boasting an impressive portfolio with collaborations with Google, Moonfare, Interswitch, and Andela, Tolu’s insights into the design world unveil a fascinating narrative. This exclusive interview delves into Tolu’s creative process, his impactful contributions at Kwara, and the inspiration for his innovative designs.
David: Could you briefly introduce yourself?
Tolu: My name is Tolu Oladimeji, and I am a product designer based in Berlin. I’ve been designing for about ten years. I have worked with brands like Google, Moonfare, Interswitch, and Andela. When I am not designing, I can be found curating music as a DJ.
David: How did you get into design?
Tolu: I got into design out of curiosity. I wanted to solve problems and had two options: becoming a teacher or a designer. As a teacher, I could educate people on how their actions impacted society. However, the design route felt like a better path to getting people to make better decisions and, as a result, positively impact society.
David: How has the design journey been?
Tolu: It has been a wild journey! It’s been a challenge convincing people that good design is not just about aesthetics but a powerful tool for solving problems and enhancing user experience. People often underestimate design’s transformative impact on products, services, and overall business success.
David: How do the features that Kwara and users see come to life?
Tolu: First, we define the problem we are trying to solve. We understand what our customers are trying to do and how we help them do it. There’s this framework I use to guide my design process. It’s called the 3B framework; the first is understanding the behavior you are trying to get people to do. Second, look at existing barriers stopping people from achieving those behaviors. Lastly, when you get people to do those behaviors, what benefits do they stand to gain? Most of my knowledge and process is guided by psychology because it’s all about getting people to do something, convincing them repeatedly that your solution is best placed to solve their problem.
David: What is the most exciting thing about product design at Kwara?
Tolu: The most exciting aspect is simplifying financial processes into simpler experiences. I want to download my account statement; I want it for this period. We solve this for customers by presenting it in a way that is easy to understand. Those are the exciting things I get to do at Kwara. The challenge is simplifying complex financial processes into seamless experiences and thinking about the right balance between functionality and simplicity. Seeing the positive impact it has on our users is incredible for me.
David: Of all the features you have designed at Kwara, which is your favorite and why?
Tolu: My favorite feature is designing the ability to manage multiple SACCO memberships on one account. Why is this important to me? It simplifies money management, allowing our users to stay engaged in the communities they belong to. SACCOs are different communities, and with the Kwara App, allowing people to sign into their multiple SACCO accounts makes them feel and stay connected with their communities. This is still tied to our overall goal of building communities that help them improve their financial health.
David: Where do your creativity and ideas come from?
Tolu: Creativity is about connecting different dots. I draw inspiration from psychology and other apps, regular brainstorming with my team, and I get inspired by watching movies. One of the TV shows I am currently watching is called Flavourful Origins. It’s about different meals and how they are prepared. Music is also a source of inspiration for me.
David: What is your favorite movie?
Tolu: Megamind is an all-time favorite. I am a big fan of animated movies.
David: Are there specific people or products that inspire you?
Tolu: For people, Brain Chesky – CEO & Founder of Airbnb; Dieter Rams, a design legend; and Jony Ive of Apple. I wouldn’t call them designers; I would refer to them as thinkers who push boundaries to define what is possible. For products, I would say the iPhone.I also look forward to trying out the Vision Pro once it’s available.
David: How do you work with Kwara’s product owner and engineering team?
Tolu: The product and engineering teams work closely together. Collaboration and communication are prioritized. We pay attention to what we are building for our users to ensure it solves their problems. Doing this requires cooperation and communication at the top of our game, ensuring we build the right solution for our customers.
David: You and the product owner; how would you describe that relationship between you and the product owner?
Tolu: We work together closely by reviewing and documenting our customers’ challenges. We then ideate on potential solutions to the challenges. We work together to test if these solutions are solving their problems. I then use this feedback to fine-tune our solution, which is then built by the engineering team. We then go back to those we tested with to get their input on the improvements, taking data on usage to know if we have solved the problem.
David: If anyone were to interact with Kwara’s products, work with our team, or become a client or a new team member, what would you say is important for them to know about Kwara?
Tolu: Working with Kwara means joining a team dedicated to simplifying banking and assisting credit unions with cutting-edge technology. Anyone willing to join must be open to challenges, think creatively, and genuinely desire to make a difference in people’s lives. If you are an aspiring designer considering joining Kwara, stay curious and never stop learning. Even if you are not joining Kwara, the industry is fast-paced, so you need to stay updated on the latest trends and tools. You must focus on developing soft skills, as communication and empathy are essential to understanding users’ product development needs.
David: As a parting shot, why did you join Kwara?
Tolu: I joined because I wanted to contribute to making finance more accessible. I have experience in banking, microfinance, and private equity. I have learned a lot about various financial needs—Kwara’s goal of making credit unions into digital banks aligned with my desire. We are designing something new: how can we transform SACCOs into digital banks? How is it going to be managed? I wanted to be a part of this, so I joined Kwara.
As we wrap up this insightful conversation with Tolu, it becomes evident that the world of product design is not just about aesthetics but also about solving real-world problems. Through Tolu’s eyes, we witness the excitement and passion that drives innovation in FinTech, reminding us that the intersection of design and finance holds immense potential for positive change.