Symphony Personas: Yinka Akinbobola

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Symphony Solutions’ talents come from around the world and bring to the company their unique experiences and diverse backgrounds. Not by tech alone, our services and products truly come to life when all the teams work together, leaving a lot of room for creativity. This time we interviewed Yinka Akinbobola, Lead Visual Designer here at Symphony Solutions, who comes from Nigeria and has always been very involved in the life of the local tech community and more. Yinka told us about his entrepreneurial endeavors, his take on human-centered design, and gave some awesome tips on productivity and work-life balance.

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1. You joined Symphony Solutions in 2022. How has your experience with the company been so far?

It has been great so far. Working with people from diverse backgrounds has been an enriching experience for me. I also like the flexibility and the company culture because I have been able to grow as a person and impact my community.

2. What do you like most about your current UI/UX Lead role? 

I like the challenge that the work I do poses. Working with designers from different parts of the world with different perspectives has contributed to my learning. I am excited to be part of a great vision and challenge. 

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3. What values are important to you in Symphony Solutions? How do you experience those values here?

All the values actually, Trust, Integrity, Innovation, Initiative, Passion, and Intimacy. I believe these values are important and make up an integral part of our culture here at Symphony Solution.

4. Is Symphony Solutions the first remote company you worked with? What’s it like working remotely?

No, Symphony Solutions is not my first remote company. I have worked remotely with startups in the past. I like the flexibility of working remotely because I spend the time, I would use to commute to do more meaningful work. Especially if you’re living in a city like Lagos where commute time can take hours due to heavy traffic congestion.

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5. What is the most exciting project you worked on? Or one that you are proud of, and why?  

I was a co-founder and product lead at DropQue. Dropque was Africa’s first interactive and intelligent talent exchange which uses unassisted video interviews and AI to help recruiters find the best talent. Dropque was a first-to-market product with a unique blend of technologies designed specifically to tackle the problems faced in Africa’s unique hiring culture. We won numerous awards and got into the Peace Tech Accelerator in Washington, D.C. But most important for me was the impact we made. After just being around for a little over 2 years, Dropque had helped interview over 7000 candidates across 19 African countries. We won the public vote award at the Nigerian round of Seedstars World 2017 and were later the overall winner in 2018. We were one of the ten startups selected by NITDA to represent Nigeria at the GITEX technology exhibition and conference in Dubai and were also selected as one of the delegates by the Lagos State Government in collaboration with the Ministry of Wealth Creation and Employment to represent at the John Hopkins SAIS ICT Summit. We also got selected as one of the delegates by The NCC to represent Nigeria at the ITU Telecom World 2018, Durban, South Africa, and were awarded one of the 3 most scalable startups at the world summit. I am really proud of our accomplishments; it was a great learning experience for me. 

6. You call yourself a human-centered designer. What does it mean? How did you come up with this concept? 

Human-centered design has been around for a while. It is a problem-solving technique that puts real people at the center of the development process, enabling you to create products and services that resonate and are tailored to your audience’s needs. I like to call myself a Human-centered designer because I use human-centered design principles to inform and make my design decisions.

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7. On your media profiles, you mention that you combine technologies and empathy. What does it mean?

For me, technology and empathy mean creating technology that is usable. The idea is understanding people’s needs and build solutions that not just cater to these needs but also consider the context they exist in. Using empathy enables the designer to walk in the user’s shoes in an effort to understand why and how they use technology. This gives the designer a clearer point of view through which they can now build not just functional but usable tech products.

8. You are a Co-founder at Dropque company. Tell us more about it. How did the idea come to you?   

I believe I spoke a lot about Dropque already. On how it started three other cofounders, and I started Dropque during our one-year Entrepreneur-in-training program at MEST (Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology). The idea of the training program was to learn about software entrepreneurship and start a company at the end of the program. My other three cofounders and I shared similar experiences around the problem we were trying to solve. We all had had to travel long distances to interview for jobs in the past and also believed that CVs did not provide enough information for recruiters to hire the right candidate. So, after a lot of user research and market validation, we came up with the idea to use asynchronous video interviews and artificial intelligence to help recruiters know more about their candidates early on in the recruitment process. On the candidate side, the solution will enable them to take interviews from anywhere, at any time on their smartphones. This was how Dropque came to life. 

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9. How did you find your passion for 360 photography? Is there a business part to it or is it just a hobby?

I first came across 360 photography around the same time I was learning about Virtual Reality. I was intrigued by the idea of being able to capture experiences in more interactive forms. As an entrepreneur I could see the business side but it ended up being just a hobby because of other things I was engaged in. So, I bought a 360 camera and just had fun with it.

10. Suppose you need to choose entrepreneurship or design. What will you choose and why? 

I cannot separate both because they work hand in hand. From my experience, design is a tool for entrepreneurship. So, whether it is creating a service or a tech product, design will always be the center of entrepreneurship for me.

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11. Is it true that you are one of the founders of a prominent rock music festival “RocktoberFest”? We’d love to know the details.

Yes, I am one of the founders of Rock Nation, the company that organized RocktoberFest in Lagos, Nigeria. I have always loved rock music and I started out organizing rock music parties. After a while I found myself in the company of people like me who liked rock music. Together, we organized several events, RocktoberFest being one of them. We have had five festivals so far.

12. Designer is a creative profession. What inspires you? 

I have always been creative and I would say seeing what others have created and understanding the process behind it inspires me. Understanding other’s work pushes me to want to do better and more.

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13. What are your top 3 motivators at work? 

  • Impact
  • Value
  • Team spirit

14. People usually find it not easy to keep a work-life balance. How do you manage your work at Symphony Solutions, entrepreneurship, and hobbies? 

I always create time for everything. Going to the gym, hanging out with friends, watching movies, are some of the things I do for fun after a long productive week. It’s not easy, but I try not to take work into my weekends and I have also identified my most productive hours, allowing me to get more done and free up time to relax.

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15. What are your productivity hacks?  

Set clear objectives for what you want to achieve and visit them constantly to remind yourself of what you are working towards. Avoid procrastination at all costs, and remember to breathe. You are almost there.

16. What is the best advice someone has given you?  

Live for today, hope for tomorrow, and learn from yesterday. The most important thing is to not stop questioning. 

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We invite you to learn more about Symphonians! Check out some of our previous Symphony Personas interviews. 

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