For fueling fintech innovation with change-ready teams fluent in agile ways of working
Over the past decade, John Ndubuisi has had a front-row seat to Nigeria’s booming fintech revolution. In a time of such staggering change, he knows the value of being ready to pivot—as well as clearly communicating the rationale for the shift.
After startup Titan Trust Bank acquired century-old Union Bank in 2022, Ndubuisi was tapped to lead a project to merge capabilities—and help ensure the new company doesn’t get left behind as the industry hurtles toward its fintech future. One stand-out effort: building a team that could iterate its way to a shared banking app.
Here are two ways Ndubuisi is staking his claim as a go-to project leader:
He actively engages stakeholders in solving problems.
Glossing over setbacks and downplaying bad news? Not on Ndubuisi’s watch. “Communicating effectively with all stakeholders is my superpower,” he says. “When a project isn’t going as planned, my stakeholders are well aware of the issues and the plan to resolve them—so we can get the project back on track.”
It’s a skill Ndubuisi frequently relies on, given the pioneering nature of fintech initiatives and the huge swath of stakeholders such projects involve. He’s often asked to field multiple change requests, and “when stakeholders keep changing the goalposts,” he says, scope creep and missed deadlines can happen.
To keep everyone in the loop even amid project flux, he uses a strategic communications plan that clearly outlines the project’s value—and the risks (financial and reputational) of not delivering that value. He tailors the message and targets stakeholders “on a need-to-know basis,” guided by a matrix he develops early on that sorts stakeholders by level of influence and preferred communication method. “That has helped me greatly in delivering my projects,” he says.
He leans into agile—and is scaling it across teams.
The increasing pace of changing market conditions and speed of product development is changing how we manage projects,” Ndubuisi says. To accommodate the barrage of “inevitable change requests,” teams need to adopt agile ways of working.
An iterative approach allows him to break down each project into deliverable work packages and test them along the way—a must-have when teams are pushing for innovative solutions, he says. During the Titan Trust/Union Bank app project, for instance, Ndubuisi and his team used agile to identify a potential security vulnerability early on and then redesign the solution well before delivering the final product.
Ndubuisi trains team members on agile as they go and even offers mentoring beyond working hours.
“I involve my team in all aspects of my projects and explain to them why I’m taking each step and why we need an agile approach,” Ndubuisi says. “I ensure they see the bigger picture of agile and how it helps improve project delivery.”
The goal? To build pivot-ready cross-functional teams that can provide an antidote to Nigeria’s chronic talent drain, Ndubuisi says. It also doesn’t hurt that developing flex resourcing that can be shared with other projects increases his own value to the company.
Q&A: John Ndubuisi on Steve McConnell, globalization and why he was born to lead projects
What famous person would you want to recruit for your team?
Steve McConnell, founder of Construx Software and author of several groundbreaking books about software development. It would be great to work with an icon in software project management.
What moonshot project would you most like to work on?
A project that harmonizes payment collection across the entire world. This would enhance global trade and improve globalization.
Why did you decide to become a project manager?
Growing up in Lagos, where so many things are done in a very disorderly manner, I always dreamed of doing things in a planned, orderly and goal-oriented manner. So I didn’t hesitate to accept the offer of studying project management for my bachelor’s degree.