Jide Ogunjobi

In April of this year, VerifyMe, a digital identity and consumer insights technology company, hired Babajide Ogunjobi as vice president, of products & data strategy. VerifyMe provides contactless customer onboarding, and real-time identity confirmation for National Identification Number (NIN), Bank Verification Number (BVN), and driver’s license; and also secures e-commerce transactions for a wide range of industries.

Before moving to VerifyMe, Ogunjobi served as chief technology officer (CTO) at Moove Africa where he built out real-time solutions for onboarding and analytics services leading to the company’s Series A funding. Ogunjobi joined the VerifyMe team with extensive leadership experience spanning almost 15 years in data engineering and architecture. His career includes serving as a data engineering lead at the global consultancy, Publicis Sapient; working as a data engineer at Grubhub in the US; serving as vice president at Citigroup, and a data solutions architect at J.P. Morgan.

Ogunjobi spoke to TechCabal about his new role, the power of data points, and how he plans to build identity and data products that connect identity to consumer analytics at VerifyMe.

TC: Why does VerifyMe need a VP for products and data strategy right now?

Babajide: Our mission at VerifyMe is to connect businesses to trusted identities and customer analytics, and that includes products based on data and analytics. So, although we are regarded as a KYC and identity tech company, we really are a data company at our core. VerifyMe is at a critical stage to continue to enable fintech. With over 500 B2B customers signed on to use our APIs, we see the opportunity to build powerful data products that will reimagine customer onboarding and how analytics is done for Nigeria and Africa, and that’s why I’m here now.

TC: What will you be doing for VerifyMe in this new role?

Babajide: As a data engineer and executive, my role is to unlock VerifyMe’s ability to build superior data products that give our B2B customers insight and analytics capabilities so they can provide more services to their customers. We have been building blockchain and artificial intelligence-based products targeted toward customer and corporate sectors. 

My primary role will be to create a data analytics and artificial intelligence function within the company where I will lead some smart analysts, engineers, and scientists to build out multiple internal and external products to create and unlock new business opportunities for the company.

TC: With previous experience at prestigious companies like Citigroup and J.P. Morgan, what drew you to VerifyMe, and what interests you about this position?

Babajide: My number one passion is building, especially building with companies that have massive potential within Africa. I had the opportunity to work with VerifyMe in a previous role and also had multiple discussions with the CEO, Esigie Aguele, and I was very impressed with the trajectory and milestones that the company had attained in a short period. More importantly, the company has only been scratching the surface of multiple potentially massive opportunities in the sector. VerifyMe is already the biggest company in the KYC and identity sector in Nigeria and has some very interesting plans in the next few years to make a mark within the rest of Africa, and I wanted to be a part of that journey.

TC: You’ve had an illustrious career filled with data roles. What intrigues you about data and analytics?

Babajide: One of the biggest drivers of my data career is the excitement of working with data in multiple raw and atomic forms where I can spend multiple hours just trying to make the data make sense. I started my data career many years ago at The Bank of New York Mellon as an investment analyst where I mainly just worked with Microsoft Excel and Access. And then I was introduced to the possibility of using SQL within Access to speed up my analysis and reports much more efficiently than everyone else. That rush pushed me to explore SQL more deeply and also explore new possibilities of data modeling. As I grew within that role, I went out of my way to find more exciting and smarter ways to manipulate data using programming languages like Visual Basic, python, and C#, and my developer career took off. 

With every new role, I got the opportunity to work with super smart people who mentored and unlocked new aspects of data and analytics for me, from rebuilding and managing enterprise data warehouses at J.P. Morgan to build a massive scalable Hadoop data platform at Grubhub, and [other] multiple rewarding roles before coming to onboard VerifyMe.

TC: You’re joining VerifyMe to build identity and data products that connect identity to consumer analytics. Please explain what this means.

Babajide: Historically, VerifyMe has been a provider of government-based and in-house identity solutions to downstream corporate and SME companies. These solutions have mostly been operational in nature where VerifyMe creates, retrieves, and transmits data to our customers. The company has a very big opportunity to create “intelligent” data products for our customers which enables them to make instant decisions on their customers with little to no additional effort on their end.

What is the biggest challenge ahead for you in this new role, and how do you plan to tackle that?

Babajide: My biggest challenge now is trying to navigate the logistics of building a new team and function from scratch as well as trying to evangelize the need for a data function within the company. As I intentionally build out the team and function, I’m finding out that I’m wearing multiple hats at the same time, which can be a challenge as I have to switch contexts multiple times a day. In many previous roles, I was an employee or manager who was brought into an already established team or group where my primary responsibilities were mainly functional tasks. 

However, my last role at Moove where I was the CTO and number one employee has largely prepared me for this role. At Moove, I learned how to build a team from scratch, navigate how best to grow a team based on priority functions and external dependencies as well as work with the senior leadership and partner teams to help prioritize products and the company direction. I aim to bring the same concepts to VerifyMe, hopefully with more tenacity, and work with the executive team to embrace additional opportunities that they may not have considered in the past.

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